WASHINGTON Repeated calls from Pope Francis for the world to empty its nuclear weapons arsenals are little known and often overlooked, but carry the moral weight of Catholic social teaching, a panel of experts concurred during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.
His pleas should come as no surprise because they reflect a view that has existed within the Holy See since the papacy of St. John XXIII and the days of the Second Vatican Council, said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, during a program in advance of the pope’s visit to the United States Sept. 22-27.
Citing statements from Vatican II, Francis and his predecessors and pastoral letters by the U.S. bishops, Cantu said Thursday that the church has offered consistent messages that question the morality of the use of nuclear weapons.
More recently, the Vatican and Francis have moved away from accepting the concept of nuclear deterrence, saying that such acceptance implies that it is acceptable to use such weapons. The Vatican has always maintained that using nuclear weapons is immoral.
Acknowledging that new perception, Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of international relations at The Catholic University of America, said the Holy See is working to reframe the way the world views nuclear weapons and “to put people first.”