US Bishops: 'A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought'

The Bishops of the United States condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest nuclear threats, and invite Catholics to continue to pray for peace in Ukraine.

By Lisa Zengarini

As the seven-month war in Ukraine continues to relentlessly escalate, US Bishops have joined in condemning Vladimir Putin’s recent threats to use nuclear weapons.

President Putins' nuclear threats 

Speaking in a televised address on Wednesday, the Russian president announced a partial military mobilisation to defend “liberated lands” in Ukraine and warned that if the territorial integrity of Russia was threatened, the Kremlin would “certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.”  He added, “It is not a bluff.”

The statement has been widely interpreted as a new threat that Putin is prepared to use nuclear weapons to escalate the war, following the recent military setbacks in Ukraine.

The Russian president has been using the threat of nuclear weapons since the outbreak of the war on 24 February. On that day, he warned any countries interfering with Russia’s “special military operation” that they would face “consequences” that they “have never experienced” in their history.

On 27 February, he instructed the military’s nuclear deterrence units, including the nuclear force, to go on high alert in order to be ready to execute their mission. On the same day, Russian ally Belarus abolished the clause in its Constitution prohibiting the deployment of nuclear weapons in the country, which suggested the possibility of the forward deployment of Russia’s nuclear weapons in Belarus.

In recent weeks, the occupation of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by Russian troops has further raised concerns over nuclear disaster, as fighting around the facility has increased risks of it been severely damaged in the crossfire.

President Putin’s latest statement has sparked an outcry from the United States and its European allies during the current 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly which opened this week in New York.

Bishops: disastrous consequences for all humanity

The Bishops of the United States have joined the condemnation of nuclear threats.

“Growing rhetorical gestures threatening the use of nuclear weapons must be condemned,” said Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, reiterating that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

“Any threat made to use nuclear weapons reminds us of their heinous nature and disastrous consequences for all of humanity.”

In his statement, Bishop Malloy also invited Catholics in the US “to continue to pray for the leaders of the world – that the hopes and dreams we share in common for our peoples will triumph over the tempers and injustice wrought by this war in Ukraine.”

Archbishop Pezzi of Moscow: forgiveness is the main means to overcome evil

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine was indirectly mentioned this week by Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Mother of God of Moscow, in a letter addressed to the faithful for the opening on the new Pastoral Year.

The Italian-born Archbishop noted that general conditions in the country this year are particularly difficult: "Suffering, pain, confusion, the inability to distinguish good from evil, hatred and cruelty continue and are becoming umbearable,” he said.

In the face of these circumstances, Archbishop Pezzi called upon the faithful to have “the same mindset as Christ in their relationships with one another.”

He further invited them to regularly make use of of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, “since forgiveness is the main means to overcome evil, to restore our relationships with God, in the family, in parish, and between people and nations.”

EU Bishops to discuss war in Ukraine at General Assembly in October

The war in Ukraine will also form the focus of the Autumn Plenary Assembly of Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), which will meet in Brussels on 12-14 October.

EU Bishops will discuss the socio-economic and geopolitical implications of the war with a particular emphasis on the energy crisis and its ecological and social impact on the most vulnerable.

Delegates will exchange on the future COMECE contributions to EU policies promoting peace and justice in Europe and the world. They will also talk about the refugee crisis resulting from the conflict.

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24 September 2022, 14:58