Pax Christi International today issued an invitation for Catholic leaders to sign a letter to president-elect Donald Trump in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons.
“We urge your Administration to surprise the world and actively support negotiations at the United Nations on a treaty that would not only make it illegal for nations to use or possess nuclear weapons, but would also help pave the way for their complete elimination, strengthening existing non-proliferation and disarmament efforts,” said the letter. The statement was initiated by the Pax Christi International Washington Working Group, a collaboration of the international organization and Pax Christi USA on international policy issues.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, said the organization is inviting leadership in U.S. Catholic religious communities, organizations, universities and parishes to sign the letter.
It was, coincidentally, released the same day as Pope Francis’s address to national ambassadors accredited to the Vatican in which the pope ranged over a host of issues from the dangers of fundamentalism and terrorism to the scourge of armed conflicts to the need for a compassionate response to migrants and the victims of poverty.
He also took the opportunity to condemn international arms trade and “the never-ending race to create and spread ever more sophisticated weaponry.” Quoting from Pope John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Francis declared, “The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned.”
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In the 70 years since nuclear weapons were first used, said the Pax Christi letter to Trump, they have plagued humanity with the possibility for unprecedented destruction and have “long been strictly prohibited by Catholic teaching.” The letter notes that two years ago, “the Holy see added that ‘the very possession of nuclear weapons, even for purposes of deterrence, is morally problematic.”
Speaking directly to the president elect, the letter concluded: “As you accept the heavy responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons policy we urge you to remember, in the words of the Holy See, that ‘the commitment to disarm embedded in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international documents, is more than a legal-political detail, it is a moral commitment on which the future of the world depends.’”
To sign the letter go to: https://goo.gl/forms/IIysO7 HlghiJFJad2.
The full text of the letter follows:
To: President-elect Trump
Re: A message from Catholics in support of nuclear abolition
Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.
(“Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition,” The Holy See, December 8, 2014)
Dear President-elect Trump:
Nuclear weapons have plagued humanity for 70 years. Designed to terrify as well as to destroy, these weapons can, in the hands of either states or terrorists, cause indiscriminate harm to humans and the earth on a scale that is unthinkable and likely to persist for generations. The use of nuclear weapons has long been strictly prohibited by Catholic teaching. Two years ago, however, the Holy See added that “the very possession of nuclear weapons, even for purposes of deterrence, is morally problematic.”
As leadership in organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Catholics in the United States, we are deeply troubled that the United States would, by implication or action, contribute to a renewed nuclear arms race. No moral justification exists for impeding the already painfully slow steps to nuclear abolition; undercutting existing nuclear arms control agreements; or encouraging the proliferation of nuclear weapons, including among so-called “friendly” countries.
We strongly oppose plans of the United States to modernize the nuclear weapons arsenal, investing billions to ensure that these deadly weapons remain ready for use. These funds and tremendous human talent are diverted from meeting true human security goals and from protecting the integrity of creation.
Continued reliance on nuclear weapons is an affront to human dignity and the sacredness of life. Yet, nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by an international convention, even though they have the greatest destructive capacity of all weapons.
We urge your Administration to surprise the world and actively support negotiations at the United Nations on a treaty that would not only make it illegal for nations to use or possess nuclear weapons, but would also help pave the way to their complete elimination, strengthening existing non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.
In his recent World Day of Peace message for 2017, His Holiness Pope Francis said, “An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.”
As you accept the heavy responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons policy we urge you to remember, in the words of the Holy See, that “the commitment to disarm embedded in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international documents is more than a legal-political detail, it is a moral commitment on which the future of the world depends.”