Cardinal calls Trident "immoral"

29 June 2009

Cardinal calls Trident weapons "immoral"

In an article in today's Times newspaper,  
Cardinal Keith O'Brien will describe the Trident weapons system as a "weapon of mass destruction" and argue that possessing it is "morally reprehensible". Scotland's Catholic Bishops issued a statement in April 2006 condemning the Trident system,   their stance was subsequently endorsed by the Vatican, when Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, wrote to cardinal O'Brien endorsing the Bishops' April 2006 declaration.

In his article, the Cardinal states; :In any and all circumstances the use of a nuclear weapon would be immoral. Since, to use these weapons would be immoral, to threaten their use is immoral and to hold them with a view to threatening their use is also immoral."
Cardinal O'Brien adds; "We not only violate moral principles with our nuclear weapons but undermine our moral authority in the world." he concludes; "Rejecting Trident, not in 2024 but right now, will bring economic dividends at home and give moral leadership abroad. It would allow us, at last, to stand on the moral high ground and to invite the nuclear armed nations of the world to join us there."


The full text of the Cardinal's article is shown below.

A study guide to Nuclear weapons produced by the Justice & peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland is available as a download here;

Peter Kearney
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168  


A recent 'Times' Editorial on the Trident weapons system noting that
"national defence is one of the cardinal duties of the statesman" caused
me to reflect on the moral duties of a Cardinal.

In the current debate surrounding the replacement of Trident, we have
heard a great deal in this newspaper and elsewhere about the financial,
diplomatic, military and political arguments relevant to retention or
rejection. By contrast we have heard precious little about the moral
arguments involved. Sometimes the debate around a particular topic
become so confused and nuanced that the moral considerations of any
decision can be lost in the fog.

In the context of Trident renewal, the moral case is really quite
simple. It cuts through and across any others. Because it is simple, let me put
it simply. In any and all circumstances the use of a nuclear weapon
would be immoral. Since, to use these weapons would be immoral, to
threaten their use is immoral and to hold them with a view to
threatening their use is also immoral.

We not only violate moral principles with our nuclear weapons but
undermine our moral authority in the world. We were prepared to engage
in a brutal war with Iraq to ensure that nation did not possess any
weapons of mass destruction. We did this in the belief that possession
of such weapons is morally reprehensible, which it is, unless of course
we possess them. Our duality and moral hypocrisy on this matter fatally
undermined our motivation in Iraq.

We must simply ask ourselves, 'are nuclear weapons useable?' The
inherently indiscriminate and devastatingly powerful destructive force
of a nuclear weapon makes it qualitatively different from any other type
of ordnance. Their first use, under any circumstances whatsoever, would
be immoral and a crime against God and humanity. Likewise, a
counter-strike in retaliation would be just as immoral, even more so,
because it would be motivated not by defence but by the hollow and
hellish vengeance of the vanquished. It is perhaps no coincidence that
one of the British Trident fleet is named HMS Vengeance.

In war a primary duty of the military is to protect the innocent and
non-combatants. This foundational aspect of military conflict through
the ages is brutally and utterly violated when a nuclear weapon is
Even a tactical deployment would constitute such a violation, yet
Britain has no tactical nuclear weapons. Instead 200 identical warheads
leased from the USA and quartered for the most part in Scottish waters
comprise its strategic arsenal. Each one is eight times more powerful
than the bomb, which devastated Hiroshima.

We all accept that threatening behaviour is a crime. In the domestic
context it instils fear and mistrust and destroys relationships, so too
in the international military context. To the Christian and to most
people of faith threatening someone with such awesomely destructive
power runs utterly counter to the call of God. A call to love, peace and
reconciliation, not destruction, domination and force.

I join this debate as a Christian Minister a Catholic Bishop and a human
being who believes in the dignity and sanctity of human life. This
pro-life message is at the heart of the Catholic Church and is one the
Church champions, 'in season and out of season'. No one can uphold the
teachings of Christ unless they speak out in defence of life, and the
mass killing of innocent victims at any time and in any place.

Life, must mean life in all its fullness and at every stage, from
conception to natural death, and any premature taking of life at any
stage has deep moral implications. This is why the Catholic Church
opposes abortion, is immersed in international development, stands
against capital punishment, works to bring an end to the scandal of
child soldiers, the trade in small arms, and so much more. It is why the
Church has consistently opposed the development of nuclear weapons, and
why it demands their abolition, now more than ever.

None of what I say comes from me alone, but rather from the highest
moral authority in the Catholic Church; the Pope and the bishops working
together and in Council. The last Council was Vatican II over 40 years
ago, its teaching on this subject rings down through the decades: "Any
act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or
of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God
and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."

This is moral teaching of the clearest kind, and my duty as bishop and
Cardinal is to pass that teaching on. To act morally, to do the right
thing, often takes courage, and sometimes means taking a stand that
others do not agree with or accept. That is the test of leadership.
Britain now has a golden opportunity to truly lead and to turn its back
on the path of mass destruction.

In doing so we can assist others, particularly Russia and the USA who
have shown much more willingness to be courageous than Britain has in
recent months, but who have so much further to go to disarm than we do.

Rejecting Trident, not in 2024 but right now, will bring economic
dividends at home and give moral leadership abroad. It would allow us,
at last, to stand on the moral high ground and to invite the nuclear
armed nations of the world to join us there.

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 167 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Homily for the Requiem of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

| 10 hours ago | Blogging

Thursday 21 January 2021         In his homily at the funeral of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, describes the late Archbishop as “a great tree felled unexpectedly in the middle of the night” a loss that “has changed the landscapes of so many lives.”   The full text of the homily is shown below:   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291   Homily for the Requiem of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia St Andrew’s Cathedral, 21 January 2021   “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.” There are so many settings in which to have known Archbishop Philip: as a member of his family, or in his school and student days, in Rome, in the seminaries and parishes he served, as Bishop of Paisley and Archbishop of Glasgow. There were the many circles he moved in: of ecumenical dialogue, Catholic education about which he was so engaged and realistic, the civic life of Glasgow, not forgetting its sport. So many people touched by him, so many aspects to a life, so many perspectives to view it from. Three score years and ten. Our memories are fragments of a greater whole, and that whole – the mystery of a person - is in the mind and hands of God. “On the earth the broken arcs, in the heaven a perfect round.” Today, in Christ, we remember Philip’s life, we give thanks for it and we pray for its completion and the comfort of the bereaved. We bring him and ourselves before God in a literal and metaphorical great Eucharistic prayer of hope and affection. The image that comes to me is of a great tree felled unexpectedly in the middle of the night – Storm Covid. And only when we woke up the day following did we begin to divine what had happened, did we begin to grasp the depths of its roots, to see the space this tree occupied, the shelter it gave, and what we’ve personally and collectively lost. This uprooting has changed the landscapes of so many lives. “Tree” seems right. The timber of this man was sound. It was sound all through. At a time when hollowness or rottenness seem to surface with disheartening regularity, this was a comfort. I think we felt this soundness and relied on it more than we knew. Eulogy is no part of a liturgy. It’s the last thing Philip would have wanted; he was not a self-advertising man. It’s not what we want; we are probably still too numb. But the prohibition of eulogy doesn’t mean we have to talk abstractions. Surely we can acclaim the providence of God, the presence of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit within him, from his birth seventy years ago to his committal today, from his baptism to this Eucharist, from the pouring of that first water to the final sprinkling of his remains. There seems a rare wholeness here. Surely we can acknowledge how the grace of his baptism and of his ordination grew and flowered in him, how the Lord was indeed his shepherd and through him shepherded others, how his priesthood became a true spiritual fatherhood which has left its trace on all of us. Looking at it from our side, we are commending to God today someone who wasn’t small in any sense, someone of gravitas, and someone in whom head and heart came together, possessed of intellectual force and clarity and at the same time of great human warmth. There have been so many testimonies to this (and my thanks to all who have sent condolences). He might have passed his life in the green pastures of dogmatic theology, by the restful waters of seminary teaching (if they exist) or of promising ecumenical dialogue, but he accepted pastoral assignments and he cherished them. He had a gift for friendship and insight into people. During our Ad Limina visit with the Pope in 2018 he said to the Holy Father, “I miss the parish”, and got a delighted papal thumbs-up. As a pastor, esp...

Catholic bishops urge governments to renew search for Middle East peace

| 11 hours ago | Blogging

Thursday 21 January 2021   Following a series of online meetings with Christians in Gaza, the Palestinian territories and Israel, the Catholic bishops who are members of the Holy Land Coordination group have urged “Israeli and Palestinian leaderships (to) recommit to direct negotiations.” The fifteen bishops from eleven countries also urged “our own governments and political leaders urgently to renew their active participation in the search for a just peace, supporting dialogue between all sides, upholding international law, and reaffirming the plurality of Jerusalem, given its unique significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims”   The full text of their statement is shown below:   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291   Holy Land Coordination 2021 Final Communiqué This is the first time we have been prevented from meeting physically in the Holy Land. Yet we remain resolutely committed to supporting our sisters and brothers in the homeland of Christ. Over the past week we have been privileged and moved to hear from Christians across the West Bank, Gaza and Israel about their mission, resilience and witness in these unprecedented circumstances. Through our dialogue, it has become painfully clear that there is today less cause for optimism than at any time in recent history. The health challenges of Covid-19, felt by the entire world, are compounded by conflict, occupation and blockade. The absence of international pilgrims has exacerbated widespread economic hardship, increased levels of unemployment and pushed many more families into poverty. The lack of political progress, along with relentless expansion of illegal settlements and the impact of Israel’s Nation-State law, continues to erode any prospect of a peaceful two-state solution. Now is a critical moment for us all to strengthen our expression of solidarity with the people of the Holy Land “not as a vague sentiment but as a ‘firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good’”.1 We stress the importance of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships recommitting to direct negotiations. We call upon our own governments and political leaders urgently to renew their active participation in the search for a just peace, supporting dialogue between all sides, upholding international law, and reaffirming the plurality of Jerusalem, given its unique significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Furthermore, the international community must hold Israel accountable for its moral, legal and humanitarian responsibility to make Covid-19 vaccines accessible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and encourage cooperation by the Palestinian Authority, heeding Pope Francis’ message that “in the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls.”2 While many of our own countries continue to face severe hardship amid the pandemic, we have a profound responsibility to support our fellow Christians in the Holy Land. Church schools, clinics, hospitals and other social projects including the work of Caritas, while under severe pressure, are models of charity, justice, and peace. These Christian institutions are vital in bringing together people from many different backgrounds to serve the common good of all. 1 Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2021 2 Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi 2020   The Christian community, though small, is an important guarantor of social cohesion and a bearer of hope for a better future. We eagerly await a time when Christians from across the world can once again make pilgrimages to the Holy Land to witness and support this first- hand. Until that point, we encourage our communities to provide any assistance that may be possible and hold all the region’s peoples in our prayers. Bishop Declan Lang England and Wales (Chair of the Holy Land Coordination) Bishop Udo Bentz Germany Archbishop Stephen Bris...

Media Arrangements for Archbishop Tartaglia's Funeral

| 24 hours ago | Blogging

Media Arrangements for Archbishop Tartaglia's Funeral   The Archbishop’s Funeral Rites will be celebrated in St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow, subject to the restrictions that are in place. Under current regulations only 20 of the Archbishop’s closest family and friends will attend and no media presence in the Cathedral will be possible.  However media outlets are free to make use of the following arrangements:   Vigil ceremony and Reception of Remains of Archbishop Tartaglia on Wednesday 20th January at 6.30 pm accessible by using this video link:     The Archbishop's Funeral Mass will take place on Thursday 21st January at 12 noon, and will be accessible by using this video link:   Still photos of the ceremonies will be available shortly after each liturgy at the following address and can be freely downloaded and used by the media.  The main celebrant of the Requiem Mass for Archbishop Tartaglia will be Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland. His sermon will be made available to the media and can be used after 12 noon on Thursday January 21.   Please note that external photography is not an option as the Cathedral ceremonies will be held behind closed doors. The coffin of the Archbishop will not be carried from the Cathedral as it will be buried in the Cathedral Crypt immediately after the Requiem Mass.   ENDS   For further information, contact   Ronnie Convery, Director of Communications RCAG - 07735 224789   ...

Statement from Bishop Stephen Robson on the death of Bishop Vincent Logan

| 7 days ago | Blogging

14 January 2021    Following the death of Bishop Emeritus Vincent Logan, the current Bishop of Dunkeld, Bishop Stephen Robson, has issued the following statement:    My Dear People   It is with deep regret that I must share with you the sad news that Bishop Vincent, Emeritus Bishop of this Diocese, has died.  Bishop Vincent was 79.    Vincent Logan was Bishop of the diocese of Dunkeld for almost 32 years before his retirement on June 30th, 2012.  He was appointed to Dunkeld by Saint John Paul II and consecrated Bishop by Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray on 26th February 1981.  Sadly his retirement years, from 2012 to the present were affected by a good deal of ill health which affected his mobility. He died earlier this morning, 14th January 2021, the day after his good friend Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow alongside whom he served on the Bishops Conference of Scotland. Both bishops succumbed to the lethal effects of the Coronavirus.    Bishop Vincent is survived by one remaining brother, James, and by two nephews Vincent and James, to whom our condolences are offered.  His faithful PA, Press Officer and friend of 40 years, Elaine Harrison, has cared for him in an exemplary manner especially over the years of his retirement.  Though devastated by his death, Elaine is happy that Bishop Vincent is now at peace with the Good Lord.   Bishop Vincent Logan was born in Bathgate, West Lothian, on 30th June 1941. After education in St Mary’s Academy, Bathgate, St Mary’s College, Blairs and St Andrew’s College, Drygrange,  Vincent was ordained priest by Cardinal Gray in Edinburgh on 14th March 1964. Following on from a number of diocesan appointments as assistant priest in Edinburgh, and further studies in catechetics in Corpus Christi College London, Vincent was appointed, Diocesan Advisor in RE, Director of the RE Office in the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, and finally Vicar Episcopal for Education in the Archdiocese from 1977-1981. His final parochial appointment in the Archdiocese was as Parish Priest of St Mary’s, Ratho, from 1977-1981. Following on from his consecration as Bishop of Dunkeld on 26th February 1981, he served for 32 very energetic and innovative years both in the Diocese and in the Bishops Conference. His work was greatly appreciated at all times.    Much can be said about Bishop Vincent’s achievements, but these can wait for a more leisurely time once the pandemic dangers have passed and we can Celebrate Bishop Vincent’s Requiem Mass more appropriately. The funeral arrangements are as yet unknown, but the Mass and burial will be recorded and streamed, so that all who have access to the internet will be able to participate.   With every blessing to you all and a request for prayers for Bishop Vincent.   + Stephen Robson Bishop of Dunkeld   ENDS    Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291                     Note to Editors:   An image of Bishop Logan is available here:  ...