by Dennis Sadowski, CNS

nuclear-free-zoneIt was April 11, 1963, as the Catholic church was in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that St. John XXIII issued his landmark social encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”) that included a call for a verifiable ban on nuclear weapons.

More than 50 years later, the Holy See continues to make the moral case for nuclear disarmament.

The Vatican’s most recent public comment came in December at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

“The time has come to embrace the abolition of nuclear weapons as an essential foundation of collective security,” the Vatican said in a paper titled “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition” delivered to the conference.

In it, the church held firm to its stance that any use of nuclear weapons was immoral and argued that the time has come to abandon nuclear deterrence — the principle that such weapons might be used and that they exist to deter another country from using them. Previously, the Vatican conditionally accepted deterrence as “a step on the way toward progressive disarmament.”…

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