During his historic visit to Japan last year, Pope Francis declared that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”. Seventy-five years on from the unprecedented and horrific destruction of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are called to reflect prayerfully upon the UK’s own possession of nuclear weapons.
Pope Francis reiterated that the threat of mutual destruction, the massive loss of innocent lives and the annihilation of any future for our common home, is completely incompatible with our efforts to build peace. “If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands”, said the Pope.
He also reminded us that it is unjust to continue squandering precious resources on manufacturing, maintaining, and upgrading ever more destructive technology. The cost of nuclear weapons should be measured not only in the lives destroyed through their use but also the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who could have benefited were such vast sums of public money invested in the Common Good of society instead. The Scottish and English and Welsh bishops’ conferences have in the past called on the UK government to forsake its own nuclear weapons.
We, therefore, recommit ourselves to the abolition of these weapons and to the Holy Father’s call to pray each day “for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation, and fraternity. A fraternity that can recognize and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny.”
Bishop of Clifton and Chairman of the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Bishop of Galloway and on behalf of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.
+William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham