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Cardinal urges UK to abandon nuclear weapons

Catholic World News - April 19, 2011

Addressing an anti-nuclear rally at a submarine base, Scotland’s leading prelate called upon the British government to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“I’ve been speaking of the teaching of the Catholic Church on nuclear weapons for many years now,” Cardinal Keith O’Brien said. “It’s a message I’m all the more glad to repeat here at the gates of Faslane, which is the very heart of Britain’s nuclear weapons industry.”

He added:

The consistent message of the Catholic Church is plain and simple and was summed up by Pope Benedict in his very first message for World Day for Peace, in 2006. He was speaking to our British government, and to those other few governments who mistakenly believe nuclear weapons have any place in a civilised society. This was Pope Benedict’s message: “This point of view, that nuclear weapons have any place in a civilised society, is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all… agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.”

It should also be noted that in the same message for World Day For Peace, Pope Benedict chose to refer to the entire trade in weapons, not just nuclear weapons. That is a teaching we lose sight of at our peril. Weapons production, from the smallest handgun to rocket launchers, and fighter aircraft, is big business, a massive industry, and to our shame, Britain has a leading role. To quote Pope Benedict yet again: “How can there ever be a future of peace when investments are still made in the production of arms and in research aimed at developing new ones?” I have seen the truth of this for myself, time and time again, as I journey with SCIAF to visit development projects supported by the people of Scotland. The poorest in the world pay the highest price for an arms trade that brings misery to them, and fortunes to the companies that develop and produce the weapons.

Our own Scottish Bishops have often echoed the peace demands of Pope Benedict, and Pope John Paul before him, and I am here to repeat it once more. Here at the gates of Faslane, there is no better place to say that it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction. It is shameful to have them. If our government wished to truly be courageous it would unilaterally give up its nuclear deterrent, giving the witness and impetus for other nations to do the same.

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