Evolving Catholic approaches to the nuclear question

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Bishop Declan Lang called for an end to all nuclear weapons as he welcomed delegates to a conference on nuclear proliferation, deterrence and disarmament in London on Tuesday 24 May.

The conference is taking place at the University of Notre Dame London Global Gateway and features Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Des Browne, the vice chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of international relations at the Catholic University of America.

This conference considers the moral and policy implications of major new initiatives by Pope Francis and the Holy See on nuclear proliferation, deterrence and disarmament.

Bishop Lang began by quoting St John Paul II in Hiroshima:

“The final balance of human suffering that began here has not been fully drawn up, nor has the total human cost been tallied, especially when one sees what nuclear war has done—and could still do—to our ideas, our attitudes, and our civilization.”

“Yet more than half a century on from the city’s destruction, our global community has failed to rid itself of nuclear weapons or remove the danger they present to humanity.

“On the contrary, in many ways that threat is greater now than ever before. Proliferation, technological advances, and the role of non-state actors have compounded risks that first emerged during the Cold War.

“It is against this backdrop that we are gathered here to analyse the Church’s response, using all its intellectual and moral traditions, and to look at how together we can help create an international order in which the legitimate need for security is not focussed on nuclear weapons.

“Those gathered here bring a wealth of political, ethical and religious understanding to this endeavour. Each of these perspectives is essential and complementary, and I have no doubt that the range of experience in this room will greatly enrich our discernment.

“For decades, nuclear weapons have presented an affront to humanity. As we begin this most vital conversation, let us pray for the strength and guidance to ensure that this is an evil from which future generations will be freed.”