By Linda Bordoni
In the wake of Pope Francis’s powerful appeal for a world that is free from atomic warfare, and his affirmation that not only the deployment, but also the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, the Catholic Bishops of the United States issued a statement calling on their nation “to exercise global leadership for mutual, verifiable nuclear disarmament”.
The statement, signed by Bishop David Malloy, Chairman of USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, notes that the theme of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Japan this past weekend was “Protect All Life”.
“In Nagasaki and Hiroshima”, Malloy writes, “the Holy Father gave a powerful witness to the grave threat poised to human life by nuclear weapons. Following in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II, and reiterating the teaching of his predecessors, Pope Francis called for a world without nuclear weapons”.
Commitment to global nuclear disarmament
The Catholic bishops of the United States, the statement continues, remain firmly committed to global nuclear disarmament.
“We declared in 1993: ‘The eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is more than a moral ideal; it should be a policy goal,” they recall.
The statement notes that “The United States and Russia have over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.”
START treaty with Russia
“This fact alone,” the statement concludes, “calls for our nation to exercise global leadership for mutual, verifiable nuclear disarmament. The extension of New START Treaty with Russia would be a prudent next step.”
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was signed April 8, 2010 in Prague by Russia and the United States and entered into force on 5 February 2011. It replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired December 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).
New START continues the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals begun by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Both Russia and the United States announced that they met New START limitations by 5 February 2018.