Shift in Church position on deterrence and possession of nuclear weapons


Pat Gaffney with Pope Francis

Pat Gaffney with Pope Francis

Source: Pax Christi

It is not often that students, diplomats and Nobel peace laureates from around the world meet to reflect on how, together, we can work for a nuclear free world. This unique gathering was convened by the Dicastery Promoting Integral Human Development in Rome on 10 and 11 November. Pax Christi was a participant.

Pope Francis addressed the gathering in a speech that presented a shift in the position of the Church with regard to deterrence and the threat and possession of nuclear weapons. He said: " ... genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices, if we also take into account the risk of accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned...they exist in the service of a mentality of fear....

Later in the Conference Bishop McElroy, from San Diego said: "The Church's fundamental goal in this transformation is to dispel the complacency that currently subverts and paralyzes international efforts at nuclear arms reductions, complacency based upon denial and the false assumption that the logic of nuclear deterrence and proliferation has not fundamentally changed in the past fifty years."

The event also celebrated the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its work on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was adopted in July 2017. Beatrice Finn, Director of ICAN spoke of the important role of people of faith as a constant life-light to campaigns such as this. Pax Christi, along with a host of other organisations and communities have been working with national governments and Church leaders to encourage ratification of the Treaty. This work will continue as the UK Government has resisted any participation in these negotiations.

Read the full text of the address by Pope Francis here:
http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/11/10/171110e.html

Share this story