2020.10.28 armi nucleari, missili, guerra, armamenti, disarmo atomico

Bishops of England and Wales issue document on disarmament

“Called to be Peacemakers” is the title of a new document released this week by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales which presents a Catholic approach to arms control and disarmament amid ever growing international tensions.

By Lisa Zengarini

The International Affairs department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) issued a new important document on disarmament and the ethical use of weapons this weekurging Catholics to advance the cause of global disarmament, and calling on the British Government to forsake its nuclear arsenal and work towards multilateral disarmament.

Church teachings and Christians' moral obligation to promote disarmament

Titled “Called to be Peacemakers”, the document   presents a Catholic approach to arms control and disarmament, drawing upon several Papal encyclicals and Church documents.

Recalling that weapons are fuelling conflicts across the globe with “catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable people”, it says  Christians in particular have a moral obligation to promote nuclear disarmament, to challenge the arms trade, and to encourage restrictions on the creation of ever more destructive military technology.

The 20-page document argues that if Catholics are to take up Christ’s call to stand as peacemakers in our troubled world, an integral part of this mission involves working to limit the proliferation of weapons and to advance the cause of global disarmament.

“Called to be Peacemakers”, is composed of an introduction, three chapters each examining a specific theme and concluding with a series of action points, and a final reflection.

Pope Francis' call for ethic of responsibility

In the first section, the bishops recall that the Church “has persistently called for those states possessing nuclear weapons to disarm,” and highlight that Catholics a have a particular responsibility to respond to Pope Francis’ call to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, to foster a climate of trust and dialogue.

Military expenditure and development

The second section examines the Church’s call for general and complete disarmament. This, the document explains, does not mean the removal of literally all weaponry and defence capabilities, but, rather, it is about eliminating weapons of mass destruction, regulating conventional arms, lowering military spending using money to fight poverty and for integral human development instead, and strengthening mechanisms for peace.

Moratorium on drones  and killer-robots

The third section addresses the serious ethical implications of the use of military drones and lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), that is weapons guided by artificial intelligence, rather than by the human mind (the so-called killer-robots). It reaffirms the Church’s stance urging for a moratorium on the development and use of such weapons,  and calls for putting emerging technologies at the service of humanity.

Call on UK  to take several actions to support world peace

The document invites specifically the UK government to take several actions to support peace. These are: to ultimately forsake its nuclear arsenal, helping to create a world without nuclear weapons; to fulfil its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue an end to the nuclear arms race;  to advance multilateral disarmament, to refrain from expanding its own arsenal, and to work towards reducing it at the earliest opportunity; to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and, until this point, engage meaningfully with the treaty framework including participating as an observer in future meetings of signatories. The bihops further ask the UK government to redirect the economic, social and political resources spent on nuclear weapons towards promoting the universal common good.

What can Catholics do

In the concluding reflection “Called to be Peacemakers” urges Catholic throughout England and Wales to heed Jesus’ call to stand as peacemakers in our troubled world, recalling that Jesus himself lived in violent times, but “offered a radically countercultural approach” built on the unconditional love of God and non-violence.  

According to the bishops, there are many practical ways Catholics can advance this mission: for example by joining organizations working for justice and peace; engaging political representatives to ensure that they are held to account; bringing these conversations into parishes and schools, or taking part in public displays of support for peace.


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24 May 2024, 15:28