Holy See: Make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone
CWN - September 23, 2010
Repeating Pope Benedict’s call for “the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet,” a Vatican diplomat said that the Holy See strongly supports efforts to designate the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, undersecretary for relations with states of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, made his remarks at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Several areas of the world, including Latin America, Africa, southeast Asia, and Australia, have been designated nuclear-weapon-free zones.
Msgr. Ballestrero praised the several peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including improving agricultural yields, treating diseases, and ensuring a supply of clean drinking water.
Pope Benedict’s call for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is not novel. In a 1982 address, Ven. John Paul II noted that the Holy See’s statements about nuclear disarmament date back to the papacy of Ven. Pius XII:
My Predecessor, Pius XII, as early as 1946, referred to the “might of new instruments of destruction” which “brought the problems of disarmament into the center of international discussions under completely new aspects” (Address to the College of Cardinals, December 24, 1946).
Each successive Pope and the Second Vatican Council continued to express their convictions, introducing them into the changing and developing situation of armaments and arms control. If men would bend to the task with good will and with the goal of peace in their hearts and in their plans, then adequate measures could be found, appropriate structures erected to ensure the legitimate security of every people in mutual respect and peace; thus the need for these grand arsenals of fear and the threat of death would become superfluous.
The teaching of the Catholic Church in this area has been clear and consistent. It has deplored the arms race, called nonetheless for mutual progressive and verifiable reduction of armaments as well as greater safeguards against possible misuse of these weapons. It has done so while urging that the independence, freedom, and legitimate security of each and every nation be respected.
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