The Holy Father encouraged efforts towards the “complete elimination” of nuclear weapons on Wednesday as reports from the first days of U.N. non-proliferation meetings showed positive developments in favor of that end. The Pope exhorted all participating delegations to make an effort to "weave a political and economic web of peace."
The Pope’s message came on the second day of 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) being held at the U.N. Headquarters in New York until May 28.
The call from Pope Benedict came at the end of Wednesday's general audience.
He acknowledged in his remarks that there is a close connection between “the process for a concerted and certain nuclear disarmament” and “the full and prompt fulfilment of the relative international commitments.”
“Peace, in fact, rests on trust and on respect for promises made, not only on the balance of power," he noted. "In this spirit I encourage the initiatives that seek progressive disarmament and areas free of nuclear weapons, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet."
He concluded his call by exhorting participants in the U.N. conference to “overcome historical conditioning and patiently to weave a political and economic web of peace in order to help integral human development and peoples' authentic aspirations.”
The World Council of Churches (WCC), which has been vocal in its hope for a positive outcome from the current conference, called it “the most important disarmament agreement of all,” after praising last month's treaty between the U.S. and Russia which will reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the countries.
According to the U.N., some of the key issues being considered in talks are the treaty's universality, specific practical measures of nuclear disarmament, promoting and reinforcing safeguards for nuclear non-proliferation and the advancement of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
WCC said Tuesday that the discussions in New York have started positively, with a promise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to disclose the current number of U.S. nuclear warheads and offer legal protection against the nuclear attack in Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones including the South Pacific and Africa.
The WCC also noted that the majority of participating delegations to the conference are in favor a new convention which would work to completely ban nuclear weapons.