Pope Francis slammed on Wednesday “the hypocrisy of talking about peace by building and selling war devices”.

Driving the news

Francis made his remarks in his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where he doubled down on the “firm condemnation” of nuclear weapons that he made in Japan on his week-long trip to Asia.

“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity”, the Pope had said a day before in a press conference on the flight back to Rome.

“Everything that can be done to stop arms production, to stop wars, to encourage negotiation, with the help of mediators, must always be done”, Francis also said on the plane.

Go deeper

Also in the General Audience, the Pope also sent his “greetings” and “closeness” to “the dear Albanian people, who have suffered so much these days”.

That was after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook the port city of Durres Tuesday, killing 28 and injuring more than 650.

“I am close to the victims, I pray for the dead, for the wounded, for the families. May the Lord bless this people whom I love so much”, Francis said.

The Pope’s sentiments were followed up in a telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in which Francis encouraged the relief efforts of emergency personnel.

Why it matters

Also on Wednesday, the Vatican confirmed the Pope’s appointment of Italian banker Carmelo Barbagallo as new President of the Vatican watchdog Financial Information Authority (AIF).

“I am honoured to have received this appointment, aware of the full weight of the moral and professional responsibility it carries, and I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in me”, Barbagallo, a former head of the Bank of Italy’s vigilance unit, told Vatican News.

“I intend to reassure the international system of financial information that all cooperation will be given in full respect of the best international standards”, the new AIF President added.

For the record

The news of Barbagallo’s appointment came just a day after the Pope on his return flight from Japan gave new details about the exit of the former AIF head, Swiss lawyer René Brülhart, who resigned on November 19.

Brülhart tried to retrieve documents seized in an October 1 raid on the AIF and the Secretary of State over a shady London real estate deal, Francis said.

The Pope added that Brülhart acted with the help of the Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units that suspended the Vatican from its internal systems November 13 over security concerns.

“Justice in the face of an accusation of corruption is something sovereign to a country, no one can meddle in it, no one can give the papers to the Egmont Group”, the Pope said.

Francis added that “it seems that it was the AIF that did not control others’ crimes. Its duty was to supervise”.

In comments reported by the AP, however, Brülhart disputed the Pope’s account, and said the AIF never had control over the Secretariat of State.

“We can only take responsibility where we have power and competence”, Brülhart explained.

Next on Novena:

Pope insists Vatican financial reforms “working” despite corruption investigation

Pope challenges world “not to give in to indifference”

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