The use of nuclear weapons can “never be morally justified”, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has said in a statement ahead of Parliament’s vote on whether to renew Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.
The vote on Monday will decide whether to continue with the manufacture of the next generation of nuclear submarines.
The statement, signed by general secretary Rev Christopher Thomas on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said that the bishops “recognise the grave responsibility for national security that rests with our Government and our Parliament” and said “they know those charged with making the decision on whether to renew the UK’s nuclear weapons programme will reflect seriously on whether their possession acts as an effective deterrent.”
In the statement, the bishops asked politicians to “reflect on the view that the use of nuclear weapons can never be morally justified as their use would cause the mass deaths of innocent civilians and does not fit within the Just War tradition.”
“Such use could never be a proportionate response,” the statement added.
The statement said that “an ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory” and that “here is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.”
It added: “Parliament now has an opportunity to reinforce the extension and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which the UK is a signatory, and which obliges all who possess nuclear weapons to work towards their elimination.
“We pray that the decision taken by Parliament will include the intention and the steps to achieve that undertaking: the complete elimination of these weapons.”
Last week, the Catholic bishops of Scotland urged the Parliament to take “decisive and courageous steps” toward ridding the UK of nuclear weapons. All eight bishops issued a joint statement calling for nuclear disarmament ahead of Monday’s vote.