Last month, U.S. forces used their largest non-nuclear bomb for the first time in combat to strike Islamic State militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The weapon, which contained 11 tons of explosives, has colloquially been called the “mother of all bombs.”
The bomb’s nickname did not sit well with Pope Francis, the Catholic leader told an audience of students gathered at the Vatican on Saturday.
“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Francis said. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is going on?”
The April strike was carried out “as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” according to a U.S. Central Command press release.
The military objective was to drop the bomb “and get it over and done with and get the ISIS forces killed off,” Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, said.
The explosive used in the strike is officially called the GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB). It weighs 21,600 pounds. President Donald Trump applauded the strike, calling it “another very, very successful mission.”
The pope’s critique of the bomb comes less than three weeks before he is slated to meet with Trump. The two leaders have exchanged insults in interviews and on social media, but will meet for the first time on May 24 during Trump’s first trip abroad as president.