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1983 US Bishops Pastoral Letter:
The Challenge of Peace: God's promise and our Response

Because of the massive and indiscriminate destruction that nuclear weapons would inflict, their use would not be morally justified. [No. 150]

Given the context of that time, possession of these weapons as a deterrent against the use of nuclear weapons by others could be morally acceptable only as an interim measure and only if deterrence were combined with clear steps toward progressive disarmament. Criteria for strict conditioning:

a) a reliance on deterrent strategies must be an interim policy only. "We cannot consider it adequate as a long-term basis for peace." [No 185]

b) the purpose of maintaining nuclear weapons in the interim was only "to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by others," [No. 186] and

c) a reliance on deterrence must be used "not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament." [No. 188]

1993 US Bishops 10th Anniversary Statement:
The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace

Progressive disarmament must mean a commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons, not simply as an ideal, but as a concrete policy goal [p. 13]

The US should commit itself never to use nuclear weapons first, should unequivocally reject proposals to use nuclear weapons to deter non-nuclear threats, and should reinforce the fragile barrier against the use of these weapons [p. 13].

1998 draft US Bishops 15th Anniversary Statement:
The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence, signed by 77 bishops.

Stockpile Stewardship program is [p. 2]:

a) an investment in a program to upgrade the ability to design, develop, test and maintain nuclear weapons.

b) showing no intention of moving forward with disarmament, and

c) reliance on nuclear deterrence through the year 2065, not an interim policy.

Nuclear deterrence as a national policy must be condemned as amorally abhorrent because it is the excuse and justification for the continued possession and further development of these horrendous weapons [p. 5].

We urge all to join in taking up the challenge to eliminate nuclear weapons now, rather than relying on them forever [p. 5].

Summarized by Gustav A. Nystrom, Ph.D., Livermore area Pax Christi leader, August 27, 1998.

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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