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Catholic Teaching Compels Us to Support New START

December 10, 2010

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

On the First Sunday of Advent we heard loud and clear God’s vision for a peaceful and just world.

God “will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore,” we read in Isaiah 2:4.

What a fitting time of year, then, to urge the Senate to ratify the New START between the U.S. and Russia, an important step toward the elimination of nuclear weaponry.

I’ll put our faith commitment aside for a moment, and spell out the practical reasons for ratifying the treaty:

• It will reduce tensions between the two largest nuclear powers in the world by allowing both countries to inspect the other country’s nuclear arsenal. With the expiration in December 2009 of the first START treaty, inspections and verifications have stopped. Those inspections can resume as soon as the New START is ratified. • It will reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in both of our countries, from 2,200 to 1,550 each.

• If the Senate fails to ratify New START, prospects dim for future ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, another critical step toward nuclear disarmament.

It should be noted that the treaty has the overwhelming support of military and national security experts of both parties, including current and former commanders of our nuclear weapons, Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger.

As for our faith, the Pope and U.S. bishops have been very clear that Catholic teaching about the dignity of human life compels us to eliminate any prospects of the use of nuclear arms.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2006 World Day of Peace Message, clearly echoed the message of turning weapons of war into instruments of prosperity: ” The truth of peace requires that all… strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. The resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor.”

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to senators to urge ratification: “Nuclear weapons are a grave threat to human life and dignity. 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 meaningfully proportionate.”

Read more about the New START from NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

Contact your senator to urge ratification of the New START.

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