Letter to U.S. Senate on U.S. Nuclear Policy, September 28, 2009
September 28, 2009
In the wake of President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1887 on the threat of nuclear proliferation, I write to reiterate the moral support of the Catholic bishops of our nation for concrete steps to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to advance nuclear non-proliferation with an ultimate goal of seeking a nuclear-free world. Senate action will be needed to help our nation to secure loose nuclear material, strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and support a follow-up to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Consistent with Catholic teaching, the bishops have long supported securing nuclear materials from terrorists and reducing the number of nuclear armaments. For decades we have promoted the policy goals of preventing proliferation of these horrific weapons and ultimately eliminating them. Nuclear war is rejected in Church teaching because the use of nuclear weapons cannot insure noncombatant immunity and their destructive potential and lingering radiation cannot be proportionate in a meaningful sense. Pope Benedict XVI said in a January 2006 statement, “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, a member of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, Archbishop of Baltimore and former Archbishop of the Military Services, gave a major address at the 2009 Deterrence Symposium sponsored by the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha on “Nuclear Weapons and Moral Questions: The Path to Zero.” His talk provides a comprehensive and compelling moral analysis of the path ahead of us. A copy is enclosed for your ready reference.
In the months and years ahead, it is critical that the Senate take steps toward a nuclear free world. By adopting mutually verifiable deep cuts in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, our nation can move toward meeting its obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty and can encourage other nations to do the same while strengthening our nation’s credibility on the issue of nonproliferation.
We look forward to working with the Senate and the Administration to advance the goal of ridding our world of nuclear weapons.
Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace