Cardinal Martino backs Scottish bishops over UK missile stance

In a letter to Edinburgh Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace President Cardinal Renato Martino has endorsed a statement by the Scottish Catholic bishops calling on Britain to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system.

In their 11 April statement, the Scottish bishops had written that "the Church teaches that it is immoral to use weapons of mass destruction in an act of war", adding that "equally, storing and accumulating such weapons gives rise to strong moral reservations".

The bishops also endorsed an earlier 1982 bishops statement which said that "if it is immoral to use these weapons it is also immoral to threaten their use".

Zenit reports that Cardinal Martino, who was formerly the Holy See's representative at the United Nations, has now responded, saying that "the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace appreciates the [Scottish bishops'] statement, which gives a clear view of the Holy See's position on nuclear weapons and a sound answer to the [British] prime minister's request to promote the 'fullest possible' public debate on the Trident nuclear missile system.

"Nuclear weapons represent a grave threat to the human family," Cardinal Martino continued, "the social doctrine of the Church proposes the goal of a 'general, balanced and controlled disarmament.' In this light, the statement issued by the bishops' conference of Scotland constitutes a service and a reason to hope in a more peaceful world."

Cardinal O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, welcomed Cardinal Martino's words.

"This heartening and encouraging letter from Cardinal Martino will undoubtedly renew the resolve of Scotland's Catholics and other people of good will who are campaigning for an end to nuclear weapons," said Cardinal O'Brien.

He added: "A recently produced study guide on nuclear weapons is circulating in parishes throughout Scotland, as is a petition against the renewal of the Trident system.

Cardinal O'Brien added that he, along with other Church leaders and Scots from many walks of life, will take part in "Scotland's Long Walk for Peace" from Faslane to Edinburgh later this month.

Pax Christi condemns arms trade

Meanwhile, Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand has added its name to a new national petition "End government support for military exports" that criticises the New Zealand Government for its involvement in military and weapons related production and export.

The petition, addressed to the House of Representatives, notes that average daily global military expenditure comes to more than A$3.9 billion "while close to 29,000 children under the age of five die from mainly preventable causes, including lack of access to clean water, food and basic health care".

"To provide clean water for 2.6 billion people and save an estimated 4,000 lives each day would cost just $7 billion (A$9 billion) - less than two and a half days of global military expenditure," the petition says.

The New Zealand Government contributes to this situation "by funding and promoting companies involved in military and weapons related production and export", the petition continues.

Signed by a range of Christian and other community groups, the petition also calls for "an end to government contracts with companies involved in the production or deployment of nuclear weapons overseas."

Vatican Backs Scottish Bishops on Missile Stance (Zenit, 4/9/06)
Petition: "End govt. support for military exports" (Scoop, 5/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishops statement on Trident (Scottish Catholic Media Office, 11/4/06)
Cardinal Keith O'Brien (St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh)
Archdiocese of Edinburgh

Pax Christi helps negotiate Ugandan ceasefire (28/8/06)
Catholic peace activist faces 10 years jail in Ireland (CathNews 6/7/06)
Catholic activist challenges peace movement (CathNews 2/5/06)
Catholic peacemaker receives ASIO treatment (CathNews 8/2/05)
Vatican official commends Israel withdrawal from Gaza (CathNews 26/8/05)
Priest and lay anti-nuclear collaborator convicted in UK (CathNews 30/5/01)

Trident fleet's safety alerts double (Sunday Herald, 3/9/06)

6 Sep 2006