Vatican diplomat renews call for nuclear disarmament

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See addresses the General Assembly Credit UN Photo Lou Rouse CNA US Catholic News 9 27 12 Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, addresses the UN General Assembly. | UN Photo/Lou Rouse.

A top Vatican diplomat has reaffirmed the Holy See's support for nuclear disarmament, warning that dedication to continued research into nuclear weapons will hinder anti-proliferation efforts.

"The Holy See, which has long called for the banishment of these weapons of mass destruction, joins in this concerted effort to give vigorous expression to the cry of humanity to be freed from the specter of nuclear warfare," Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for the Holy See's relations with states, said.

The archbishop addressed a high-level United Nations meeting on nuclear disarmament Sept. 26 in New York City.

"We must emphasize anew that military doctrines based on nuclear arms, as instruments of security and defense of an elite group, in a show of power and supremacy, retard and jeopardize the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," he said.

There are about 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the United Nations' disarmament office says. The United States and Russia have the world's largest stockpiles.

The United Nations has officially supported nuclear disarmament since its first General Assembly in 1946.

Archbishop Mamberti noted that the international non-proliferation treaty requires states to make "good faith" efforts to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, yet many nuclear powers continue to modernize their weapons programs.

"Concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons into other countries rings hollow as long as the nuclear weapons states hold on to their nuclear weapons," he said.

The archbishop criticized the continued acceptance of "nuclear deterrence" as a justification for the possession of nuclear weapons.

"With the end of the Cold War, the time for the acceptance of this doctrine is long past. The Holy See does not countenance the continuation of nuclear deterrence, since it is evident it is driving the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus preventing genuine nuclear disarmament."

He urged a global effort to provide security that is not based on nuclear deterrence.

Nuclear deterrence policy, he said, diverts human, financial and material resources from efforts to improve health, education and social services. These resources also are diverted from countering threats like poverty, climate change, and terrorism and other crimes.

These factors should make countries consider the "ethical dimension and the moral legitimacy" of nuclear weapons production and development.

Archbishop Mamberti said nuclear disarmament efforts should counter "the logic of fear" with "the ethic of responsibility." Countries should foster "a climate of trust and sincere dialogue" that can promote "a culture of peace" through international cooperation.

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