Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace Message, Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.

“An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.  (Complete text at http://www.va2.vatican.va)

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letters & Documents

All of these documents at the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org        

The Harvest of Peace is Sown in Justice, a Reflection of the National Council of Catholic Bishops on the Tenth Anniversary of the Challenge of Peace, November 17, 1993.  (excerpt)

The Role of Nuclear Weapons:

We must continue to say No to the very idea of nuclear war. A minimal nuclear deterrent may be justified only to deter the use of nuclear weapons. The United States should commit itself never to use nuclear weapons first, should unequivocally reject proposals to use nuclear weapons to deter any nonnuclear threats, and should reinforce the fragile barrier against the use of these weapons. Indeed, we abhor any use of nuclear weapons.”

The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response. A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, May 3, 1983. 

Backgrounder on Nuclear Weapons (3 excerpts)

(1) An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations. We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit. 

—Pope Francis to UN Conference to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, March 2017

(2) In 1963 Saint John XXIII wrote in Pacem in Terris: “Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.” Support for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has been emphasized by Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.  The U.S. Bishops have worked for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for decades.

(3) Nuclear Ban Treaty:  In a major and encouraging development, a majority of the world’s nations supported adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with the goal of leading towards their total elimination in July 2017.  The vote was 122 in favor (including the Holy See), 1 against, and 1 abstention.  Unfortunately, 69 nations did not vote, including all nuclear weapon states and all but one NATO member.

USCCB POSITION: The United States and other nuclear powers must move away from reliance on nuclear weapons for security. USCCB urges the Administration and Congress to view arms control treaties not as ends in themselves but as steps along the way to achieving a mutual, verifiable global ban on nuclear weapons. A global ban is more than a moral ideal; it should be a policy goal.

Moral Reflections on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy by Most Rev. Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore, April 26, 2010 at Catholic University of America (excerpts)

“Nuclear war-fighting is rejected in Church teaching because it cannot ensure noncombatant immunity and the likely destruction and lingering radiation would violate the principle of proportionality. The real risks inherent in nuclear war make the probability of success elusive. In his 2006 World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI declared starkly: ‘In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims’.”

“Even the use of so-called ‘mini-nukes’ would likely lower the barrier to future uses and could lead to indiscriminate and disproportionate harm. And the continuing possession of nuclear weapons undermines non-proliferation efforts and contributes to the danger of loose nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists. “

“In Catholic teaching the ethics of deterrence, disarmament, non-proliferation and peace are profoundly linked. Our nation and world must have the courage and vision to move beyond deterrence to disarmament. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation give impetus to building other structures to preserve peace and defend the tranquility of order. Ultimately, this tranquillitas ordinis is peace built on justice and charity. Pope John Paul II used a memorable image: ‘Like a cathedral, peace has to be constructed, patiently and with unshakeable faith’.“ 

Resources on Ending War & Establishing a Just Peace

The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, “a project of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement, affirms that active nonviolence is at the heart of the vision and message of Jesus, the life of the Catholic Church, and the long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.” https://nonviolencejustpeace.net

World Beyond War, a global movement to end all wars

Myths about war; why end war; how to end war; videos; conferences.

New book and online study guide: “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War” – 2017 Edition http://worldbeyondwar.org

Resources on Nuclear Weapons – Disarmament & Non-Proliferation

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize http://www.icanw.org

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)


Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, committed to a world free of nuclear weapons