Letter to Secretary of State Tillerson on Korean Peninsula and Nuclear Weapons, August 10, 2017
August 10, 2017
The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Tillerson:
Thank you for your continued diplomatic work for a solution to the mounting crisis on the Korean Peninsula. As Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to share our concerns and that of the Korean bishops over the situation on the Korean peninsula, particularly in light of South Korean's President Moon Jae-in's proposed military and humanitarian talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The Catholic Church has long placed nuclear proliferation and warfare among the greatest threats to international security and peace. American efforts to halt the spread and use of these weapons is laudable. While the escalating threat of violence from the North Korean regime cannot be under estimated or ignored, the high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue. This crisis reminds us that nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction do not ensure security or peace. Instead, they exacerbate tensions and produce arms races as countries acquire more weapons of mass destruction in an attempt to intimidate or threaten other nations.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) has pledged to "raise [their] voices for the peaceful co-existence of two Koreas." The President of the CBCK recently met with Pope Francis who offered his support of President Moon Jae-in's new peace efforts while stressing that "conflicts should be solved through dialogue and compromise." Copies of the CBCK statement and Pope Francis' comments are attached.
In solidarity with the Catholic Church in Korea and the efforts of the South Korean government, we urge the United States to encourage and support these talks. This avenue, unlike most others, offers the Korean Peninsula a future free from military conflicts or crises, which could simultaneously threaten entire nations and millions of lives in the region.
Earlier in July, bishops from the United States and Europe released a joint statement calling for our respective countries to join a nuclear disarmament conference that took place at the United Nations. As Pope Francis said in his message to that conference, true peace and stability "cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power, …peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights…From this perspective, we need to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid shortsighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security."
As pastors and moral teachers, our Committee cannot offer a specific pathway forward beyond dialogue and diplomacy, but we join our voices and prayers with peoples of other nations and faiths in a global cry for peace and security.
Most Reverend Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace