$A60 billion new UK missiles "absurd": Scottish Cardinal

Welcoming peace walkers to Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, described the investment of billions of pounds in more nuclear weapons as "iniquitous, irrational and absurd".

Cardinal O'Brien was welcoming participants in Scotland's 137 km Long Walk for Peace who completed their march with a rally at the Scottish Parliament and a symbolic foot washing ceremony, Ekklesia reports.

Together with Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, Brian Smith, and Church of Scotland Moderator, Alan McDonald, Cardinal O'Brien took part in the lay-led inter-faith foot washing ceremony which was held on the terrace outside St John's Episcopal Church.

The UK Government is to decide before the end of this year whether Britain will continue to have nuclear weapons and whether to build new submarines to replace the Trident nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile.

Speaking prior to the event at the Scottish Parliament Cardinal O'Brien said: "We are convinced that if it is immoral to use these weapons, it is also immoral to threaten their use.

"We urge the Government of the United Kingdom not to invest in a replacement for the Trident system and to begin the process of decommissioning these weapons with the intention of diverting the sums spent on nuclear weaponry to programs of aid and development".

He also recalled that people in Britain are in a marvellous position to take concrete steps to implement Pope Benedict's New Year's message for peace in which the pope described reliance on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring security as "not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims".

Cardinal O'Brien reiterated a previous statement that "here in Scotland we have a duty to lead the way in campaigning for change because we have the shameful responsibility of housing these horrific weapons".

He called on Scottish people "to demand that these weapons of mass destruction be replaced but not with more weapons of mass destruction" and that "Trident be replaced with projects that bring life to the poor!"

Text: Cardinal Keith O'Brien at Edinburgh peace rally (Independent Catholic News, 19/9/06)
Long Walk against Trident ends with footwashing (Ekklesia, 19/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Trident missile - Wikipedia

Cardinal Martino backs Scottish bishops over UK missile stance (CathNews, 6/9/06)

21 Sep 2006