Vatican position on nuclear weapons welcomed by Christian campaigners

Pope Francis has said that nuclear weapons reflect a “mentality of fear” during a two-day conference on nuclear disarmament at the Vatican. The conference saw the Catholic Church move away from conditional acceptance of the doctrine of “nuclear deterrence” and to push for nuclear disarmament. Statements that have been welcomed by the Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The conference was held from 10-11 November and heard from church leaders, diplomats, politicians and representatives of Nobel Peace Prizes winners the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Christian CND has been working closely with ICAN on taking the message of nuclear disarmament into the Catholic Church.

During the Cold War that Catholic Church had accepted “deterrence” as a balance between the major global powers, as long as it was seen as a step to disarmament. This position has now changed however, with Stephen Colecchi, director of the US bishops’ conference’s Office of International Justice and Peace saying the plans to modernise global nuclear arsenals means “deterrence is on very thin moral ground”

The Vatican initiative comes shortly after the United Nations agreed a ground breaking Treaty which will ban nuclear weapons and against a backdrop of increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula with both sides making inflammatory threats.

ICAN was the driving force behind the Treaty, with the support of Christian CND and others. During the negotiations of the Treaty Christian CND representatives met the Holy See delegation in New York and Vienna. The Holy See was one of the first states to sign and ratify the Treaty when it opened for signature in September.

Christian CND Co-Chair Martin Birdseye said: “Nuclear weapons have the potential to destroy God’s creation, and there can never be moral justification for that. The move of the Catholic Church is very welcome and Christian CND urges all believers to take this message into their communities. At a time when the use of nuclear weapons seems nearer than anytime in the past 50 years we must all be working and praying to be rid of these weapons.”

Christian CND is holding a conference on Saturday 25 November in Bristol where the Vatican Conference and the Ban Treaty will be discussed in more detail. More information is available on the Christian CND website.