The Catholic bishops of the United States urge the ratification of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O’Brien has said. While they believe it should go farther, Archbishop O’Brien described it as a sign of progress.
His comments came April 26 at a Catholic University of America (CUA) symposium on the ethics of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would reduce the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the U.S.
The archbishop, former head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, said the treaty was “a step in the right direction” that sets the stage for further reductions.
The Nuclear Posture Review “does not go as far as the bishops urged,” he continued, noting that the review does not say the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies.
However, it “embraces the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, recognizes the danger of nuclear terrorism” and narrows the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear threats and states.
These directions are morally sound,” Archbishop O’Brien said, “but more progress is needed to meet our moral responsibilities to rid the world of this disproportionate and indiscriminate threat to human life.”
He then cited documents from the Second Vatican Council condemning nuclear war, noting Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 assertion “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”
The archbishop said every weapon and policy must be judged by the ultimate goal of a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons.
Saying we must “keep our eyes on the horizon” of a nuclear weapons-free world, Archbishop O’Brien said it is “equally important” to focus on the immediate next steps.
Other panelists at the symposium included CUA professor Dr. Maryann Cusimano-Love and Maj. General William Burns (ret.). Both serve as consultants to the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, of which Archbishop O’Brien is a member.