Call to Disarm

Today there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for a nuclear weapons plant in the Kansas City area. Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph issued the following statement in response to this development:

“On September 8, 2010 ground will be broken to begin construction of a new facility for the production of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons in South Kansas City. In the Catholic Church September 8th is the feast of the Birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The confluence of the groundbreaking with the feast of Mary’s nativity provides the opportunity to pause at the irony of the situation: Mary, mother of the Prince of Peace, and the construction of a facility whose main purpose is the construction of weapons for warfare. [more]

“The Catholic tradition has always affirmed the right of a state to defend itself from unjust aggression. Implicit in that right is the need to equip a trained military force. We do not deny this obligation and necessity on the part of any state.

“However, the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction–which this nuclear plant proposes to construct–constitutes a grave moral danger. Nuclear weapons are by their very nature weapons of mass destruction: their force and impact cannot be contained, and their use affects combatants and non-combatants alike. . . . Since the use of such weapons is morally questionable, it follows that the production of such weapons is also morally questionable. . . .”

Bishop Finn also pointed out the inherent difficulties in justifying the production of nuclear weapons based on their deterrent effect:

“Others would argue that to possess such weapons would be a deterrent to other nations who also possess such weapons. The Church responds to such an objection: ”The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation” (Catechism, no. 2315).”

The constant message of the Church is one of prudent disarmament and peace. This message was well communicated by Bishop Finn.

To view Bishop Finn”s entire statement, click here.

2 Responses to “Call to Disarm”

  1. petebrown says:

    I don”t know Leon, this statement strikes me as a little naive. Nuclear payloads have dramatically reduced over the years with improvements in guidance systems. Bomb delivery systems have in other words become much much more precise and thus one can hit and take out targets with much smaller explosions, and therefore much less collateral damage. This is a development the bishop actually should support, it seems to me. The way things looked when Gaudium et Spes came on the scene, only a decade or so after the advent of the H bomb, is very different from the way things look now.

    The idea of nuclear weapons annihilating whole population centers is possible in the case of less advanced arsenals in smaller countries, but the US arsenals (should they ever be used) are much smarter and would strike at military targets, rather than causing wanton destruction of whole cities.

    Moreover, total US stockpiles have greatly diminished from the height of the Cold War, or for that matter even 10 years ago. So with much smaller arsenals and smaller payloads it”s hard to see in what sense the US is "accumulating" weapons of mass destruction.

    And as for proliferation, obviously this is a problem but what is the solution other than to have the bulk of such military capability rest with nations like the US which are the least likely to actually use it and, through possession of superior forces, deter other less scrupulous nations from doing so. I”d be open to hearing other ways of dealing with proliferation besides deterrence and balance of power, but American disarmament ain”t it! That would create a world far more prone to the use of WMD than the one we have now!

  2. leon says:

    Good points, Pete. I don”t think Bishop Finn went so far as to condemn what was happening, but rather was clear in pointing out the serious moral concerns as specified in GS, the Catechism, and various papal writings (he really didn”t give much, if any, personal opinion). As the facts change certainly the application of the principles also changes.

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