In an address at the Vatican on Tuesday, Pope Francis called on world leaders to scale back the amount of money spent on military defense — in favor of spending more money on more noble and peaceful pursuits.

The pontiff made the remarks at St. Peter’s Square ahead of World Peace Day on Jan. 1.

“In recent years, there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments,” Francis said in his remarks.

“Yet they are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals more free and responsible, and they are essential for the defense and promotion of peace.

“In a word, teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity and progress. Military expenditures, on the other hand, have increased beyond the levels at the end of the Cold War and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly.”

Catholic Cardinal Peter Turkson said the pontiff’s message demonstrates the need for every person to “play a creative role in the project for peace.”

“It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry,” the pope added in his speech.

“The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for healthcare, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth.

Aside from dismissing excessive military spending, Pope Francis also urged partnership between older and younger generations, additional spending on education and fairer working conditions worldwide.

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