CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 December 2017

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Even a nuclear threat is immoral

VATICAN (SE): The international co-president of the worldwide Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, told Vatican Radio on November 13 that even the threat of using nuclear weapons against any state or people is immoral.
 
Marie Dennis, from the English branch of Pax Christi, said she hopes that the condemnation of all nuclear weapons by Pope Francis will have some impact on the serious and frightening exchange going on between Washington and Pyongyang.
 
Dennis said that it is feasible to believe that the recent clear and powerful appeal of Pope Francis at an international symposium on disarmament calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons will cause even the most obstinate of politicians to listen.
 
“It is very important that the world understand the depth and seriousness of Pope Francis’ commitment to nuclear abolition,” Dennis said. “I think that certainly at a congressional or parliamentary level that this message will be heard very clearly and we will make sure that it does get back to key people.”
 
She quoted the pope as saying that nuclear weapons exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict, but the entire human race.
 
Pope Francis told the symposium, “Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.”
 
Dennis commented that she knows the United States of America could wipe out North Korea, “But to even threaten to obliterate the North Korean people, to so seriously affect the people in South Korea and in the whole region we think is morally unacceptable. It is an unconscionable idea. So we have to turn to diplomacy.”
 
She explained that Pax Christi believes there is a diplomatic solution to the standoff and since it is possible to settle the dispute without bloodshed, there is a moral obligation to go down that path.
 
She said the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development had provided an important opportunity to encourage all in the Church to speak out and to take the issue of nuclear disarmament much more seriously.
 
Pax Christi worked with the Vatican in negotiating the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which was signed by 122 nations at the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016.
 
As well as the obvious humanitarian consequences which are at the foundation of concerns, Dennis added that expenditure on the maintenance and refurbishment of nuclear weapons is robbing from the poor and will continue to do that.
 
She stressed that this is an extremely serious issue and very much on the mind of the Vatican.
 
She explained that in establishing the nuclear ban treaty, countries that are not nuclear powers or under the nuclear umbrella, but whose lives would be devastated by a nuclear war, have had an opportunity to speak up and say not in our name or on our watch.
 
She acknowledged that the real challenge is to make the countries that do possess nuclear weapons recognise the changing attitude on this issue.
 
“I think that in the world that we live in now our countries, our cultures, our societies are so tightly interconnected that it really is not possible for a country to remain outside the family of nations on important issues forever,” Dennis said.
 
“The point is that in a nuclear exchange, even a small exchange of nuclear weapons, certainly in any kind of a major nuclear war, we could destroy the planet we live on,” she continued.
 
Dennis paid tribute to a group of atomic survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki that was present at the symposium.
 
“In many ways,” Dennis said, “it is very touching at this conference because so many of the survivors are getting older and older and we won’t have their first hand testimony forever. So it is a gift that they were here.”

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