Vatican backs nuclear weapons protest

Days after the US announced that it plans to develop a new hydrogen bomb for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Glasgow Cardinal Keith O'Brien told a local protest rally that the Scottish bishops' nuclear opposition has Holy See backing.

Cardinal O'Brien's comments came in the wake of an announcement by the US Department of Energy that it was seeking to develop a new hydrogen bomb that would replace the existing W76 warhead now deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Quoting from a letter from the Holy See Nuncio backing the opposition of Scottish bishops to the renewal of Trident submarine nuclear weapons systems, Cardinal O'Brien told a protest rally that nuclear weapons prevent peace.

"Far from being weapons which keep peace, nuclear weapons in fact prevent peace," Cardinal O'Brien told a mass protest in Glasgow's George Square, The Universe reports.

"We, the UK and other nations of the world who possess such weapons, are therefore also a stumbling block to peace."

Cardinal O'Brien quoted from a letter he had received from the Papal Nuncio, praising the stand that the Scottish Bishops Conference had made against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

The Papal Nuncio also praised the joint statement that the Cardinal had made with the Moderator of Scotland.

"This shows that there is more in faith to unite than divide us. Opposition to weapons of mass destruction is clearly an area of such unity," said Cardinal O'Brien.

Many Catholics took to the streets in London as part of a synchronised protest against Trident renewal and UK involvement in the war in Iraq.

Catholic director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Chris Cole, who was only recently released from prison for refusing to pay a fine related to peaceful direct action taken at the Ministry of Defence last year, joined the rally with his family.

"There is the massive cost consideration of renewing Trident. Imagine what could be done with these billions of pounds to improve the welfare of people in this country and beyond," said Mr Cole.

"Then there is the hypocrisy of castigating Iran over nuclear capacity while the UK breaks international treaties to build Trident."

General Secretary of Pax Christi Pat Gaffney was impressed by the number of Pax Christi members she saw on the march from places as far apart as Leeds, Southampton, Cambridge and London.

"It is important that people keep coming out and expressing their voice. It highlights the tension between the people and a government that clearly does not want to listen," said Ms Gaffney.

Meanwhile, US peace groups warn that American plans to develop a new hydrogen bomb could spark production of new nuclear weapons by other countries, including several foes of the Bush administration.

UK's nuclear arms will prevent peace - cardinal (Universe, 6/3/07)
Experts Warn New U.S. Weapon Could Jumpstart Nuclear Arms Race (One World, 6/3/07)

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

Pax Christi welcomes British plan to withdraw Iraq troops (CathNews, 23/2/07)
$A60 billion new UK missiles "absurd": Scottish Cardinal (CathNews, 31/9/06)
Cardinal Martino backs Scottish bishops over UK missile stance (CathNews, 6/9/06)
Catholic peace activist faces 10 years jail in Ireland (CathNews 6/7/06)
Priest and lay anti-nuclear collaborator convicted in UK (CathNews 30/5/01)

7 Mar 2007