Prelate Calls for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World

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KANSAS CITY, MO - The Vatican's representative to the United Nations has called for the phasing out of all nuclear weapons from the world-"as soon as possible."

"Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all moral perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons," said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt.

"This is the moment to begin addressing in a systematic way the legal, political and technical requisites for a nuclear-weapons-free world," he said.

Chullikatt delivered a July 1 talk on "The Nuclear Question: The Church's Teachings and the Current State of Affairs" at the invitation of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese's human rights office.

He said that the Holy See calls "for more stringent attention to the urgency of implementing a well-founded comprehensive approach to eliminating nuclear weapons."

For the past several years local Catholic peace activists have been mounting a campaign to oppose a nuclear weapons facility now under construction in Kansas City. The $673 million plant, the first new nuclear weapons plant in 33 years, will produce nonnuclear parts for nuclear weapons. The city government has subsidized the facility's construction with $815 million in municipal bonds.

The activists have filed lawsuits and have held weekly protests at the facility's construction site. They recently gathered enough signatures to place an initiative on a local fall ballot, which, they say, if passed, would compel the operator of the facility to cease nuclear work in favor of green energy production (NCR, May 13 and May 27).

While Chullikatt prefaced his talk by saying he wouldn't speak about specific components of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, he told those gathered they could "easily draw their own conclusions" from his speech, which cited heavily from statements by bishops, popes and church documents.

Quoting from Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 World Peace Day address, Chullikat exhorted that "the truth of peace requires that all [governments] agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament."

He continued: "With development needs across the globe far outpacing the resources being devoted to address them, the thought of pouring hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the world's nuclear arsenals is nothing short of sinful. …