Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, held a joint press conference on December 7, 2010 in support of the U.S. Senate ratifying the New START Treaty without delay. Here is the statement (PDF File).

An Action Alert has been issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the ratification of the START Treaty. According to the Alert, “President Obama and President Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) April 8, 2010. The New START Treaty reduces deployed strategic warheads to 1,550, thirty percent below the existing ceiling; limits both nations to no more than 700 delivery vehicles; and includes new verification requirements.”

In a recent article in America, CPN Steering Committee member Steve Colecchi explains that “as public debate over nuclear questions has grown, the engagement of the bishops has intensified. At its Deterrence Symposium in July 2009, the U.S. Strategic Command turned to the U.S.C.C.B. to offer moral reflections.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has prepared a study guide based on Catholic social teaching for use with the film, Nuclear Tipping Point. It is designed to assist small groups of adults and mature young people in exploring some issues related to nuclear weapons in the light of their Catholic faith. In addition, the USCCB sent a letter (PDF file) on September 17, 2010 supporting the START treaty to selected members of the United States Senate.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops attended the Global Zero Summit in Paris where he reiterated the Church’s support for a global ban on nuclear weapons. Referring to just war doctrine, Archbishop O’Brien indicated that “[n]uclear war-fighting is rejected in Church teaching because it cannot ensure noncombatant immunity and the likely destruction and lingering radiation would violate the principle of proportionality."

On 11th June 2010, Pax Christi International sent a letter to the Serbian Ambassador in Belgium, urging Serbia to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention will enter into force on 1st August and Lao will host the First Meeting of States Parties in November. Therefore, there can be no better time to join the Convention than this year.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed Global Security Priorities Resolution (H.Res. 278) that calls for reducing both Russian and US nuclear arsenals to 1000 deployed and 3000 total weapons by 2015. According to Faithful Security,

the resolution further stipulates that some of the financial savings from such a move would be redirected to the Nunn-Lugar program, as well as $6.5B to “child survival, hunger, and universal education” programs worldwide in an attempt to address the root causes of terrorism….The resolution sets the proposed actions within the context of our NPT Article VI obligations to pursue nuclear weapons elimination. Moreover, the resolution falls squarely within our policy priority of advancing security measures that will enable further disarmament. The resolution also links disarmament with human security in a creative way that opens up support for our issue from a development/human rights standpoint.

Here are documents on the position of the Catholic Church on arms control, landmines and nuclear weapons of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At a disarmament campaign event of Pax Christi USA, Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles gave an address in which he stated that there is “great hope” for “dramatic and fundamental changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policies.”

IKV/Pax Christi Netherlands has issued an appeal, backed by a lengthy policy paper (PDF document), calling for dramatic steps toward nuclear disarmament in Europe.