Pope Francis, pictured on July 30, 2016. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2022 / 06:45 am (CNA).

In the introduction to a new book, Pope Francis says that the world is moving toward World War III as if it were unavoidable, but it is not inevitable.

The pope is listed as the author of the book, “Against War: The Courage to Build Peace,” which will be published in Italian on April 14.

In his introduction to the 192-page volume, the pope addresses the specter of nuclear war “looming over Europe” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“And so, step by step, we are moving towards catastrophe. Piece by piece the world risks becoming the theater of a unique Third World War,” the pope writes in the introduction published by Vatican News on April 13.

“We are moving towards it as if it were unavoidable. But we must forcefully repeat: no, it is not inevitable! No, war is not inescapable!”

“When we allow ourselves to be devoured by this monster represented by war, when we allow this monster to raise its head and guide our actions, everyone loses, we destroy God’s creatures, we commit sacrilege and prepare a future of death for our children and grandchildren.”

The cover of ‘Against War: The Courage to Build Peace,’ by Pope Francis. Vatican Media.

The first edition of the pope’s book will only be published in Italian by Solferino and the Vatican’s publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The publishers have not said if or when translations in other languages will be released.

In the book’s introduction, the pope argues that “the possession of atomic weapons is immoral” and calls for conflict resolution through dialogue and disarmament.

“A year ago, on my pilgrimage to martyred Iraq, I was able to touch with my own hands the disaster caused by war, fratricidal violence, and terrorism; I saw the rubble of homes and the wounds of hearts, but also seeds of hope for rebirth,” the pope writes.

“Never would I have imagined then that one year later a conflict would break out in Europe. … war has broken out near us. Ukraine has been attacked and invaded.”

He continues: “In the face of the heartbreaking images we see every day, in the face of the cries of children and women, we can only shout: ‘Stop!’”

According to the publisher, the book’s pages are “full of the suffering of the victims in Ukraine, of the faces of those who suffered the conflict in Iraq, of the historical events of Hiroshima … [and] the two world wars of the 20th century.”

“From the beginning of my service as bishop of Rome, I have spoken of World War III, saying that we are already living it, though only in pieces,” Pope Francis writes.

“So many wars are going on in the world right now, causing immense pain, innocent victims, especially children,” he notes. “These are the many forgotten wars that reappear from time to time before our inattentive eyes.”

The pope also reiterates a proposal in his introduction taken from his 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, that “the money spent on arms and other military expenditures be used to set up a global fund to finally eliminate hunger and foster development in the poorest countries.”

“If we had memory, we would not spend tens, hundreds of billions of dollars for rearmament, to equip ourselves with increasingly sophisticated weapons, to increase the market and the traffic of weapons that end up killing children, women, old people: $1.981 trillion per year, according to the calculations of an important study center in Stockholm,” he observes.

“This marks a dramatic increase of 2.6% in the second year of the pandemic, when all our efforts should have been focused on global health and on saving lives from the virus,” the pope adds.

Pope Francis writes that hate must be eradicated from people’s hearts before war can reach the frontlines.

“And in order to do so, we need dialogue, negotiation, listening, diplomatic capacity and creativity, far-sighted politics capable of building a new system of coexistence that is no longer based on weapons, on the power of weapons, on deterrence,” he says.

“Every war represents not only a defeat of politics but also a shameful surrender in the face of the forces of evil.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, will speak at a presentation of the book in Rome on April 29 at LUMSA, a private Catholic university in Rome.

“War is not the solution, war is madness, war is a monster, war is a cancer that feeds off itself, engulfing everything,” Pope Francis writes in the introduction.

“More so, war is a sacrilege that wreaks havoc on what is most precious on our earth, human life, the innocence of the little ones, the beauty of creation.”