Marking this week’s 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings, the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland have issued fresh calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
In a statement released today, just days ahead of the anniversaries of the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945, the bishops reiterated their stance on nuclear weapons, urging Catholics to ‘reflect prayerfully upon the UK’s own possession of nuclear weapons’.
The bishops recall Pope Francis’ historic visit to Japan last year, when he declared that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”.
‘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,’ the bishops said.
During his visit, the Holy Father said: “If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands.”
The bishops recalled how the pontiff also reminded people 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 bishops said.
The Scottish and English and Welsh bishops’ conferences have in the past called on the UK government to forsake its own nuclear weapons.
Concluding their statement, the bishops added: ‘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 recognise and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny”.’
The statement was signed by the Bishop of Galloway, William Nolan, on behalf of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland; the Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang, Chairman of the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; and the Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, William Kenney.
Picture: HMS Vigilant at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane, the Vanguard-class submarine carries the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent. (James Glossop/The Times/PA).