VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican praised President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence, saying they are a "step in a right direction."
The Vatican's chief spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that 47 religious leaders have appealed to members of the U.S. Congress "to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths."
"I am with them," Lombardi said, in an editorial carried on Vatican Radio, lining up the Vatican's moral support in favor of firearm limits.
"The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction," Lombardi said.
Obama is trying to rally support for reinstating a ban on assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun sales. He faces stiff opposition in the U.S. Congress and from powerful gun lobbies.
Considering that Americans possess "about 300 million firearms," Lombardi said, "people cannot fool themselves that it is enough to limit the number and use (of guns) to impede in the future horrendous massacres like that of Newtown that shook the conscience of America and world, as well as that of children and adults. "
He was referring to the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed by a sole attacker last month.
"But it would be worse to be satisfied with words" of condemnation alone, Lombardi said. And while massacres are "carried out by unbalanced or hate-driven persons, there is no doubt that they are carried out with firearms," the Vatican spokesman said.
Lombardi renewed Vatican appeals for disarmament and encouragement for measures to fight "the production, commerce and contraband of all types of arms," an industry fueled by "enormous economic and power interests."