Pope Francis
Pope Francis AFP

Pope Francis listed on Monday what he considers to be the main threats to global peace and human dignity, including the wars dominating the public conversation at the moment but also the "despicable" practice of surrogate motherhood.

In a speech before the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, Francis said that peace is "increasingly threatened, weakened and in some part lost" in different parts of the world. He specifically mentioned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is closer to beginning its third year.

He also listed the Israel-Hamas war, condemning the militant group's attack on October 7, as well as "every instance of terrorism and extremism." The pope also said that the event provoked a "strong Israeli military response," which is still ongoing and, according to the Hamas-led Health Ministry in Gaza, has a death toll of over 22,000 people.

The pope called for an immediate cease-fire in the region, including in Lebanon, where hostilities have escalated during the past days, as well as the liberation of hostages remaining in Gaza. He also noted the Vatican's position of seeking a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians with an international status for Jerusalem.

Francis also mentioned migration and the climate crisis among the main threats to humanity. A salient aspect was the inclusion of surrogate motherhood: he said that the practice "represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs." He added that children are gift and "never the basis of a commercial contract," calling for a global ban on surrogacy.

Latin America was also included in the address. Specifically, the pope called for a "respectful diplomatic dialogue" with the Nicaraguan government to resolve what he called a "protracted crisis." The Associated Press recalled that the "government's crackdown on the Catholic Church has resulted in the detention of dozens of priests and bishops."

"The government has accused the church of aiding popular protests against his administration that he considered an attempted coup," added the outlet.

The relationship between the Church and Ortega's government deteriorated during protests against social security reforms in 2018, which the UN estimates left about 300 people dead. Ortega accused the religious community of backing the opposition during the demonstrations, after the church sheltered protesters. The protests kicked off what rights activists see as a severe repression of anyone perceived as a critic of the government.

Francis also included the manufacturing of nuclear weapons on his list, saying it was just as immoral as the possession and use of them. He also called for the resumption of nuclear talks with Iran, claiming it would help "ensure a safer future for all."

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