Catholic World News

Archbishop O’Brien calls for elimination of nuclear weapons

February 04, 2010

Quoting the Second Vatican Council and statements from Pope Benedict and the US bishops, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in a February 3 address to the Global Zero Summit in Paris.

“Nuclear 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,” he told the gathering of civic, military, and political leaders. “Even the limited use of so-called ‘mini-nukes’ would likely lower the barrier to future uses and could lead to indiscriminate and disproportionate harm. And the continuing possession of nuclear weapons undermines non-proliferation efforts and contributes to the danger of loose nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists.”

Archbishop O’Brien led the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA from 1997 to 2007. He is not a pacifist; in 2003, he said that soldiers in the Iraq war could “carry out their military duties in good conscience,” countering a Romanian Catholic bishop’s statement that participation in the Iraq war was a mortal sin.

In his January 11 ‘State of the World’ address, Pope Benedict also called for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the protection of creation is indeed an important element of peace and justice! Among the many challenges which it presents, one of the most serious is increased military spending and the cost of maintaining and developing nuclear arsenals. Enormous resources are being consumed for these purposes, when they could be spent on the development of peoples, especially those who are poorest. For this reason I firmly hope that, during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to be held this May in New York, concrete decisions will be made towards progressive disarmament, with a view to freeing our planet from nuclear arms.


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