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Friday, December 9, 2016
Text: Cardinal Keith O'Brien at Edinburgh peace rally
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 Cardinal Keith O'Brien gave the following address yesterday at the end of the 'Long Walk for Peace' in Edinburgh. The Cardinal took part in a symbolic 'foot washing' for marchers at St John's Episcopal Church, Princes Street, before walking to the Scottish Parliament for a rally in the afternoon. Speakers from the major political parties and representatives from the country's faith communities took part. It is indeed a privilege for me to be here with you this afternoon, having taken part for a relatively short time in this Long Walk for Peace, although I know that many of you have valiantly walked all the way from Faslane here to Edinburgh. We have gathered together to make our views known to the Prime Minister and to our Government at Westminster, following on the Prime Minister's request that there should be the fullest possible public debate on the Trident Nuclear Missile System. I personally am here because I am a Christian and a call to peace is quite simply basic to my call as a Christian. Aware of the Old Testament readings about 'beating swords into ploughshares' I see the teachings of Jesus Christ as a natural continuation of the desire for peace among the people of the Old Testament, despite wars and conflicts which surrounded them. Obviously, Christ himself was the great peacemaker. Peace and reconciliation was always an underlying theme in his teaching and we remember those very beautiful words of the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God!". In their attempt to be peacemakers themselves, the members of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland issued the following statement in 1982: "We try to realise as Christians that we are sisters and brothers and that the earth is our common inheritance. We have a responsibility to share this world with everyone else, to pass it on uncontaminated, unpillaged, unspoiled, to future generations. We have to rid ourselves of prejudice and mutual suspicion. We must totally reject any 'arms race,' any policy of revengeful slaughter, all greed and self-preservation at the expense of others." In that statement of 1982, the members of the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland stated with regard to nuclear weapons: "We are convinced that if it is immoral to use these weapons, it is also immoral to threaten their use. Some argue that the threat can be justified as the lesser of two evils. The crux of the problem is whether in any foreseeable circumstance a policy of self-defence based on the use or even the threat of use of hese weapons of terrible destructiveness can ever be morally justified". Those words 'if it is immoral to use these weapons, it is also immoral to threaten their use' caused me to think deeply on this issue some 20 years ago. Having that statement before us, the members of the present Bishops' Conference of Scotland issued a statement regarding the possibility of the Trident replacement on 11 April 2006. We welcomed the Prime Minister,s comment that there should be the fullest possible public debate on the Trident Nuclear Missile System, and said; "We urge the Government of the United Kingdom not to invest in a replacement for the Trident System and to begin the process of decommissioning these weapons with the intention of diverting the sums spent on nuclear weaponry to programmes of aid and development". I myself developed my own thought in my Easter Sunday sermon on Sunday 16 April 2006, indicating that as Easter people we must not only be people of prayer, but people of action, living in that Easter promise of peace from Jesus himself, whose first words after his Resurrection were: "Peace be with you". I spoke of the consistent teaching of the Church on war, especially nuclear war. I indicated that: "We here in Britain are in a marvellous position to take concrete steps towards making real the demand of Pope Benedict XVI in his New Year message for peace when he stated with regard to nuclear arms as a means of ensuring security in their countries that "This point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims". I added that here in Scotland we have a duty to lead the way in campaigning for change because we have the shameful responsibility of housing these horrific weapons. And I called on my own people to demand that these weapons of mass destruction be replaced but not with more weapons of mass destruction. Rather, I asked that Trident be replaced with projects that bring life to the poor! On 15 May I led representatives of the principal Churches here in Scotland in the signing of a petition on the replacement of Trident nuclear weapons outside the Scottish Parliament. The petition reads: "We the undersigned urge the Government of the United Kingdom not to invest in a replacement for the Trident System and to begin now the process of decommissioning these weapons with the intention of diverting the sums spent on nuclear weaponry to programmes of aid and development". Copies of that national petition are available at this meeting and I do urge you to sign them and to bring them back to your own communities and towns. In my own Archdiocese study evenings have been organised on this topic; the material used is available in a power point presentation to anyone who requests it. Further encouragement was given to myself and my brother Bishops when we received a letter from Cardinal Renato Martino, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in which he wrote that the statement from the Bishops, Conference of Scotland "gives a clear view of the Holy See's position on nuclear weapons and a sound answer to the Prime Minister's request to promote the fullest possible public debate on the Trident Nuclear Missile System". He went on to state that "nuclear weapons represent a grave threat to the human family" and he said that "the statement issued by the Bishops, Conference of Scotland constitutes a service and a reason to hope in a more peaceful world". I hope by our presence here today and by the walk you have completed, we give voice to that hope and remind all who will listen that if nuclear war is illogical, immoral and inconceivable, then investing billions of pounds in more nuclear weapons is iniquitous, irrational and absurd. Source: SCMO
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