The U.K.’s most senior Catholic clergyman is calling upon the British Government to give up its “shameful” nuclear weapons program.
“Do the right thing and give it up,” Cardinal Keith P. O’Brien of St. Andrews & Edinburgh said at an April 16 demonstration outside the British Royal Navy’s nuclear base in Faslane, Scotland. He also quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s saying: “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”
In 2006 the British government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, committed itself to replacing its entire submarine-based nuclear weapons system. That policy is currently being continued by the new British government under Prime Minister David Cameron. The present system, code named Trident, is headquartered at the Faslane naval base on the west coast of Scotland. The replacement system will also be berthed there.
Cardinal O’Brien told demonstrators, “Here at the gates of Faslane, there is no better place to say that it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction. It is shameful to have them.”
“Trident is fast becoming obsolete, and we have the chance now to do the right thing and give it up. We have the chance to be peacemakers, echoing the Easter desire of Jesus Christ for a lasting peace.”
“I've been speaking of the teaching of the Catholic Church on nuclear weapons for many years now, telling our message to whoever is willing to listen, and I'm very pleased to repeat that teaching again today. As you'll see, it's a consistent teaching, a central part of our pro-life stance that has human dignity at its very core,” Cardinal O’Brien said.
The cardinal also quoted Pope Benedict who, in 2006, said, “This point of view, that nuclear weapons have any place in a civilized society, is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.”
While fully committed to replacing its nuclear weapons system, U.K. government is presently re-assessing the cost of the project estimated by them at $33 billion. Options include reducing the number of submarines from four to three or sharing costs with the French government.