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USCCB calls upon Obama to ban landmines

April 20, 2012

Bishop Richard Pates, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has joined dozens of religious leaders in calling upon President Barack Obama to accede to a 1997 treaty that bans landmines. 159 nations have acceded to the treaty.

Other Catholic signatories include officials of Catholic Relief Services, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Jesuit Refugee Service, and Pax Christi USA.

“The US has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992 and has not produced them since 1997,” the signatories stated. “Surely if the U.S. military has been able to defend the country for the last 21 years without using antipersonnel landmines, it can do so in the future as well.”

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church describes landmines as “inhumanly insidious”:

Disarmament must include the banning of weapons that inflict excessively traumatic injury or that strike indiscriminately. This includes anti- personnel landmines, a type of small arm that is inhumanly insidious because it continues to cause harm even long after the cessation of hostilities. States that produce them, sell them and continue to use them are responsible for seriously delaying the total elimination of these death-dealing weapons. The international community must continue its committed efforts aimed at mine-clearance, fostering effective cooperation — including education and technical training — with those countries that do not have adequate means to clear their territory of mines with all due urgency and that are not able to offer the necessary assistance to victims of mines.


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  • Posted by: impossible - Apr. 24, 2012 11:59 AM ET USA

    When will they ever learn? The bishops need to heed scripture's admonition to listen to instruction and learn to become wise. I repeat; they need to honestly read and apply Catholic social teaching and constantly revisit their duty which is to teach, sanctify and govern - in essential matters of faith and morals. If they do that, the informed laity will step forward and properly handle matters.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 22, 2012 11:22 PM ET USA

    All of us have only a limited amount of time on this earth to do what we are called to do. Given the problems that I with my limited access see within the Church (for which I am not directly responsible as the bishops are) and the imminence of many of these problems reaching critical levels I find this constant preoccupation of the USCCB with peripheral topics quite puzzling.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Apr. 20, 2012 11:02 PM ET USA

    I find my confidence in Church teachings bolstered by the fact that conservatives and liberals both do not like something about the teachings of the Church as a whole. It's hard to look at an ordinance like a landmine and place it within the moral boundaries of Church teaching. It is possible that with advances in tracking technology that would allow for removal of landmines after conflicts, this problem could be solved, but as it stands, that is not the case. USCCB is correct.

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 20, 2012 8:56 PM ET USA

    So now the USCCB bishops are experts in defense, joining the NGO lobby to convince Congress to enact a land mine ban that is already de facto U.S. policy. I guess Catholic laypersons with some knowledge of defense policy are not smart enough to be involved in this discussion. I don't know whether the U.S. needs a Congressional land mine ban or not. But, I do know that the bishops are sending a message to the Catholic laity that their time and talents are not needed by the Church.