U.S. Church must reexamine stance on nuclear deterrence, says Catholic peace activist

.- The Catholic Church in the United States should reexamine the nation’s strategy of nuclear deterrence and directly challenge the current administration’s defense strategy that has integrated nuclear weapons in its “Global Strike” option, says the executive director of the national Catholic peace movement Pax Christi USA. In an article published July 29 in the National Catholic Reporter, Dave Robinson says the Church in the U.S. should follow the lead that the Vatican set on the issue of nuclear deterrence two months ago.

Robinson reports that the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, called into question the morality of nuclear deterrence in his May address to delegates at the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“When the Holy See expressed its limited acceptance of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, it was with the clearly stated condition that deterrence was only a step on the way toward progressive nuclear disarmament,” Archbishop Migliore reportedly said.

“The Holy See has never countenanced nuclear deterrence as a permanent measure, nor does it today when it is evident that nuclear deterrence drives the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus preventing genuine nuclear disarmament,” the archbishop continued.

While the Church has always condemed the use of nuclear weapons, it had allowed for the possession of them as a deterrent. However, nuclear disarmament did not proceed as expected after the collapse of communism more than a decade ago.

The archbishop’s intervention, Robinson says, is “a dramatic step that signals a sea of change in Catholic moral teaching on nuclear weapons” and “the first time since the early 1980s that it has challenged the very morality of deterrence itself.”

Over the years, Robinson says, the U.S. bishops have repeatedly cautioned against the use of nuclear weapons and stated that their possession could only be justified as a deterrent. But Robinson is hoping that Archbishop Migliore’s statement may prod the U.S. bishops to take the issue one step further and reexamine “the whole strategy of nuclear deterrence and directly challenge this administration’s plans.”

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