Statement on U.S. Senate Rejection of Nuclear Test Ban, October 14, 1999
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops
October 14, 1999
The Senate vote against ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a major defeat for arms control. It will also be a blow to the moral credibility of the United States on this issue. This vote makes it more difficult for our nation to fulfill its moral responsibility as a world leader to work with other nations to promote international peace and security.
With recent popes, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have long called for a test ban treaty, and we and many in the Catholic community worked hard for ratification of this treaty. The test ban treaty is not just a political or legal instrument, but a moral commitment. It recognizes the moral predicament we have gotten ourselves into with nuclear weapons, and the moral urgency of stopping nuclear testing as one essential step in escaping this moral predicament.
As we reflect on the meaning of this Senate vote and consider how to move forward on the critical task of nuclear disarmament, it is useful to recall the judgment of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their 1993 pastoral statement The Harvest of Justice Is Sown in Peace:
An active commitment by the United States to nuclear disarmament and the strengthening of collective security is the only moral basis for temporarily retaining our deterrent and our insistence that other nations forgo these weapons.
I hope and pray that the Senate will find a way to reconsider this issue and ratify the test ban treaty as soon as possible. It is never too late for our nation to reverse course and live up to its moral responsibility to reduce and ultimately end our dependence on weapons of mass destruction.