Pope: Arms investors 'hypocrites if they call themselves Christians'

Head of the Catholic Church makes his toughest comments yet on weapons industry in speech to crowd of thousands in Turin, Italy

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The Independent Online

The Pope has criticised weapons manufacturers and arms industry investors, saying they are hypocrites if they call themselves Christians.

Pope Francis made his comments to a crowd of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

"If you trust only men you have lost," he told the crowd, having set aside his prepared address.

"It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit [of] distrust, doesn't it?"

He also criticised those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another".

This is the head of the Catholic Church's strongest condemnation of the weapons industry to date.

Pope Francis has enjoyed a week of intense media coverage having released his encyclical on climate change, criticised by some US Catholic politicians and others for mixing religion and politics.

In his Turin speech the Pope also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the First and Second World Wars, speaking of the "tragedy of the Shoah", the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

Also in reference to the first world war he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia", but did not use the word "genocide".

In April he sparked a diplomatic row with Turkey after he called the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the wake of the First World War "the first genocide of the 20th century".

(Additional reporting by Reuters)