4 August 2009


In an address given at the first Deterrence Symposium, hosted by US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore (a former military chaplain) stated that the world and its leaders must remain focused on the goal of a nuclear-weapons free world and the steps to get there.

He re-affirmed the teaching of US bishops that nuclear deterrence is not "a long term basis for peace" and added that "…the spread of nuclear weapons and technology to other nations, and the threat of nuclear terrorism, which cannot be deterred with nuclear weapons, point to the need to move beyond nuclear deterrence as rapidly as possible."

In his address Archbishop O’Brien drew upon the rich Catholic moral and social justice tradition – particularly in regard to war.

He re-iterated the fundamental Catholic teaching that human life is sacred because every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and pointed out that for this reason, the Church works consistently and persistently to defend the life and dignity of all: the unborn, the poor at home and abroad, the immigrant, and persons in every age and condition of life.

He stated that the church supports building international agreements and structures that will make war ever less likely as a means of resolving disputes between nations and peoples, and believes that ultimately we must work for a world without war.

He went on to point out that the use of nuclear weapons in war is contrary to the traditional Church teaching on the conditions for a just war because it cannot ensure noncombatant immunity and because the likely destruction and lingering radiation would violate the principle of proportionality. And there is always the danger of escalation to nuclear exchanges of cataclysmic proportions.

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