Courage needed to eliminate nuclear weapons, Archbishop O’Brien tells summit

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien


Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O’Brien on Wednesday reiterated the Catholic Church’s condemnation of “total war” and called for courage in efforts towards a future “free of the nuclear threat” at a summit aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons.

His remarks came at the Global Zero Summit in Paris, which met from February 2-4, a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says. The attendees, who were political, military, business and religious leaders, numbered 200.

The archbishop cited the Second Vatican Council’s condemnation of total war in its Pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et Spes”:

“Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”

Archbishop O’Brien, who previously served as the Archbishop for the Military Services, also noted the Council Fathers were skeptical of arguments that nuclear weapons were necessary for “deterrence.”

He then quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 World Day of Peace message, in which the pontiff said that in a nuclear war “there would be no victors, only victims.”

A nuclear weapons-free world will not be easy to attain, the archbishop said.

“A world with zero nuclear weapons will need robust measures to monitor, enforce and verify compliance. The path to zero will be long and treacherous. But humanity must walk this path with both care and courage in order to build a future free of the nuclear threat.”

Other speakers at the summit included former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Queen Noor of Jordan. The summit was timed to lead up to the Global Nuclear Security Summit in April, convened after calls from President Obama and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

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