Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has written a pastoral letter on nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament, Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament . Spurred by his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and aware that his archdiocese contains two of the largest nuclear weapons labs in the world (Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs), Archbishop Wester has written a powerful summary of Catholic teaching and issued a clear call to all Catholics to work towards full nuclear disarmament.
He is on firm ground as the position of the Church is clear: nuclear weapons are immoral and should never be used. Indeed, their very existence is problematic. Pope St. John XXIII said it clearly in Pacem in Terris:
We are deeply distressed to see the enormous stocks of armaments that have been, and continue to be, manufactured in the economically more developed countries. This policy is involving a vast outlay of intellectual and material resources, with the result that the people of these countries ares addled with a great burden, while other countries lack the help they need or their economic and social development … Justice, right reason, and the recognition of man’s dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms
race…Nuclear weapons must be banned… Pacem in Terris, 111-12.
The Hampton Catholic Worker has started a campaign to send copies of Archbishop Wester’s pastoral to all the priests in their area, and ask them to begin a conversation with their parishioners on Sunday, August 7, which lies between the anniversaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). They are asking other Catholic Worker houses, and other Catholics, do do the same.
I think that this is a great idea, and I encourage readers of Vox Nova to do this. You can download the pastoral from the link above; you can purchase printed copies from Pax Christi USA. Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I suspect many pastors will not respond to this appeal, even though many (most?) Catholics are unaware of what the Church teaches about nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. Therefore, I also encourage you to share this document directly with your fellow parishioners and indeed with all men and women of good will.