The European bishops’ conference (COMECE) and the US bishops’ conference (USCCB) provided a joint statement offering their prayers and calling for peaceful dialogue ahead of Monday’s US-Russia nuclear arms control meeting.
The bishops’ appeal asked the faithful “to join in praying for fruitful dialogue that will advance necessary arms control and disarmament, promoting a more peaceful and just world.”
The statement was signed by Bishop Rimantas Norvila of Vilkaviškis, president of the COMECE Commission on the External Relations of the European Union, and Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Senior government officials from the United States and Russia meet on Monday in Vienna to discuss the two countries’ most recent nuclear weapons agreement. The meeting takes place amidst growing doubts about the renewal of the 2011 agreement, otherwise known as the New START Treaty.
The Arms Control Association’s executive director, Daryl Kimball, told the International Business Times that US President Donald Trump’s insistence on China’s involvement in any new treaty on nuclear arms was a sign that Trump does “not intend to extend New START”. Meanwhile, Marshal Billingslea, the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, told the Washington Times that the treaty’s future remains uncertain because the State Department’s forthcoming “arms control report documents Russia’s abysmal track record in complying with its promises”.
The bishops’ statement, however, warned that a delay in the renewal of the treaty would put nuclear arms controls in jeopardy. “If the New START Treaty is allowed to expire in February 2021, the United States and Russia will have no legally binding, verifiable limits on their strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972, which might also have significant implications for European security and global peace.
Citing today’s “increasingly multipolar and complex environment,” the bishops concluded by praying that “this meeting be marked by wisdom, trust-building and cooperation in making arms control and nuclear disarmament a high priority.”