Nuclear DisarmamentWASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholics concerned about the size of the world’s nuclear weapons inventory welcomed President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce the size of America’s nuclear arsenals if Russia agrees to similar cuts.

The president announced in an address in Berlin June 19 that he would seek cuts “by up to one-third” from the current 1,550 weapons in strategic arsenals. The number of weapons deployed on long-range missiles, bombers and submarines was negotiated under the New START treaty ratified in 2011.

“We strongly applaud this direction of President Obama and really feel it’s an enormous, progressive step,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

He recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace message in 2010, which urged political leaders to undertake concrete decisions toward progressive disarmament “with a view to freeing our planet from nuclear arms.”

A new round of nuclear reductions would save billions of dollars and help the country begin to whittle down its debt and support programs that benefit “the poor and those who suffer disproportionately in society,” Bishop Pates told Catholic News Service.

Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement, said her organization supports “any move toward serious nuclear disarmament.”…

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