Saturday, April 30, 2011

In support of banning further nuclear tests

I was very privileged to be asked by our recently retired Diocesan Legislative Liaison to read the following statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in favor of banning further nuclear tests. I read this statement today in the plaza of our Cathedral to a group of concerned fellow citizens who marched from church to church on this Spring day. Live nuclear tests, while undeniably safer now that they are carried out deep underground, have wreaked havoc on many people from various small communities in southwestern Utah, those known as Downwinders. Probably the best known Utahn to succumb to cancer likely caused by radioactive nuclear tests was our much beloved former governor, Scott Matheson, who is the father of Rep. Jim Matheson. Rep. Matheson, along with former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., has diligently looked out for our state with regards to nuclear testing and efforts to store and transport radioactive waste from other parts of the country and around the world in Utah.

Below is the statement I read:

"The Catholic Church opposes the use of nuclear weapons, especially against non-nuclear threats, and it opposes the development of new nuclear weapons. While possession of a minimal nuclear capability may deter the use of nuclear weapons by others, the Church urges that nuclear deterrence be replaced with concrete measures of disarmament based on dialogue and multilateral negotiations. In its nuclear policy the U.S. should commit to never use nuclear weapons first and to reject use of nuclear weapons to deter non-nuclear threats.

"The United States and other nuclear powers must move away from reliance on nuclear weapons for their security. A global ban is more than a moral ideal: it should be a policy goal. In a major victory, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops successfully advocated for ratification of the New START Treaty in 2010.

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged the Administration and Congress to view arms control treaties not as ends in themselves but as steps along the way to achieving the goal of a mutual, verifiable global ban on nuclear weapons. Much deeper, more irreversible cuts, in both strategic and tactical weapons, are both possible and necessary.

"Pope Benedict XVI stated on January 1, 2008: 'It is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms.'"

Christos Anesti

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