Anti-nuclear weapons campaigners have welcomed Pope Francis’ call last weekend for a world free of nuclear weapons. Speaking during visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities destroyed by atomic bombs in 1945, the Pope described even the possession of nuclear weapons as “immoral”.
“This ought to put an end to the ambiguity, which has lasted for generations, coming from the bishops of the nuclear armed states, about nuclear deterrence. The very possession of nuclear weapons, as well as the threat of their use, is to be firmly condemned”, Bruce Kent, vice president of Pax Christi, told The Tablet.
Referring to Trident, he added that, “the hierarchy of this country is well placed to take a lead, since we are in the process now of spending over £200 billion on a new generation of nuclear armaments”. He called on Britain to sign the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This was endorsed by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool and National President of Pax Christi, who has called on the British government to sign the Treaty “and be part of a future built on just international relationships and the common good of all humanity".
Justice and Peace Scotland said the Bishops Conference of Scotland remains proud of the prophetic stance it took in 1982, when it was amongst the first Churches to oppose the threat of use of nuclear weapons. “Scotland still has to live with the reality of these weapons, based at Faslane, against the expressed will of the Scottish people,” coordinator Danny Sweeney told The Tablet. “With faith and civic groups across the country we continue to act as a thorn in the side of those in power calling out these weapons and demanding their abolition”, he added.
Martin Birdseye of Christian CND lamented that the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has said little about this issue, “and most of their people are not even aware of the prohibition treaty or their government’s rejection of it”.