Opening session of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna Opening session of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna 

Archbishop Gallagher to IAEA: 'A world without nuclear weapons is possible'

Attending the 66th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Archibishop Paul Richard Gallagher speaks against the use of nuclear weapons, while thanking the IAEA for their work in fighting cancer and in bettering other aspects of life.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing the 66th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Archbiship Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, began by conveying Pope Francis' best wishes and cordial greetings. 

Archbishop Gallagher expressed the Holy See's appreciation towards the Director General for his "tireless efforts to help secure the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine and prevent what Pope Francis recently called 'a nuclear disaster.'"

He continued by noting that "amid the dreadful conflicts and unrest which we witness in many parts of the world, and in face of the continuing escalation of the war in Ukraine, with words and actions that risk to leave less space for diplomatic solutions, we must never abandon the search for dialogue."

Archbishop Gallagher explained that dialogue can nourish critical, rational and objective thinking and that it helps us to "counter false prejudices". 

This is a very uncertain moment, one in which the threat of nuclear weapons has come back to haunt us, said the Archbishops Secretary of State. 

“The Holy See appeals to all nations to silence all weapons and eliminate the causes of conflicts through tireless recourse to dialogue and negotiation.”

A world without nuclears weapons is possible

"The Holy See has no doubt that a world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible," continued Archbishop Gallagher.

He noted that the Holy See signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons "with the aim of moving beyond nuclear deterrence to a world entirely free of nuclear weapons, affirming that nuclear weapons are arms of mass and environmental destruction."

However, there is "very slow progress being made on the disarmament agenda," lamented Archbishop Gallagher, and with that in mind, though "we might be tempted to lose hope" we must not be deterred by setbacks.

"We must press ahead with perseverance and determination in our common efforts to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons. We must make every effort to avoid dismantling the international architecture of arms control, especially in the field of weapons of mass destruction," stressed Archbishop Gallagher.

Help from the IAEA

Archbishop Gallagher went on to stress that the consequences of both the climate and COVID emergencies have had environmental, ethical, social, economic and political consequences and "cause great suffering to the poorest and most vulnerable of our fellow human beings."

Bearing this in mind, he continued, "the Holy See favours a model of development and sustainability based on fraternity and the alliance between the human being and the environment."

The IAEA, said Archbishop Gallagher helps developing countries to use nuclear technology to treat cancer, grow more food and manage scarce water supplies, and thus "plays a unique role in promoting integral development, enhancing our stewardship of God’s creation."

At the same time, he continued, "the Holy See also welcomes the IAEA’s support to countries in using nuclear science and technology to monitor environmental pollution."

And bringing his speech to an end, he added that, "the Holy See particularly appreciates the Agency’s work to enable low- and middle-income countries to develop comprehensive cancer control strategies and ensure that, in time, all patients will have access to radiotherapy and nuclear medicine."

In conclusion, said Archbishop Gallagher, the Holy See reiterates its "sincere gratitude and affirms its unwavering support for the IAEA’s many contributions to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as to the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technology."

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26 September 2022, 19:55