U.S. Catholic Bishops
In this excerpt from their May 1983 pastoral letter, the U.S. Catholic Bishops argue that the use of nuclear weapons in modern war must fail the tests of the just-war conditions, particularly those of discrimination and proportionality. They insist on a firm "no" to nuclear war. They explain their support of a "no first use" policy and argue against the NATO policy of proposed tactical nuclear response to an overwhelming conventional-weapons attack in Europe. They are skeptical about the possibility of any nuclear exchange remaining "limited." They point up moral difficulties associated with the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence only but accept nuclear deterrence in "strictly conditioned" circumstances.
PROBLEMS AND PRINCIPLES
Both the just-war teaching and non-violence are confronted with a unique challenge by nuclear warfare. This must be the starting point of any further moral reflection: Nuclear weapons particularly and nuclear warfare as it is planned today raise new moral questions. No previously conceived moral position escapes the fundamental confrontation posed by contemporary nuclear strategy. Many have noted the similarity of the statements made by eminent scientists
Excerpts from "The Challenge of Peace:"God's Promise and Our Response, © 1983, by the United States Catholic Conference, Washington, D.C., are used with permission. All rights reserved. A copy of the complete pastoral letter may be ordered from the Office of Publishing Services, USCC, 1312 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005.