Pope Francis has criticised the US for naming the largest non-nuclear explosive in its arsenal as the “mother of all bombs”, saying it is offensive to use the word mother in relation to deadly weapons.
His public criticism comes ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump later this month (24 May) in the Vatican. President Trump ordered the use of the 21,600lb (9,800kg) Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) explosive – nicknamed the “Mother Of All Bombs” – against Islamic State militants in Afghanistan last month. Moab is also the historical name for a mountainous tract of land in Jordan along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.
More than 90 Islamic State militants were killed when the US military dropped the 11-ton bomb on a complex of tunnels and bunkers used by Isis militants in eastern Afghanistan. The bomb is the biggest non-nuclear device to be used in warfare.
“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Pope Francis told an audience of students on 6 May.
“A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?” Last year Pope Francis questioned Trump’s Christianity over his plans to build his wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel,” he told reporters on a flight from Mexico City to Italy. During an in-flight press conference, the pope insisted he had not meant to sway any American voters with his comments:
“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
Trump responded at an election campaign event in South Carolina calling Francis’ remarks “disgraceful”.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he told supporters at the time.
He then accused the Mexican government of “using the pope as a pawn”: “They should be ashamed of themselves, especially when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States.”
The Pontiff has also been critical of the EU’s failure to adequately respond to some of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of this age, suggesting the Union had become weary, aged, and was no longer fertile – like a grandmother.