At a time when much of the world is confronted by uncertainty and insecurity, the Archbishop of Santa Fe (United States), has issued a compelling call for collective action to eliminate nuclear weapons. Pax Christi International warmly welcomes Archbishop John Wester’s pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament” of 11 January 2021. We commend it to people of faith and goodwill.
The pastoral letter warns of the new nuclear arms race gathering momentum now. It condemns both having and using nuclear weapons. This is a powerful critique also articulated by Pope Francis, who has also called for a world free of nuclear weapons. The pastoral letter notes that the United States government is spending $1.7 trillion to modernise its nuclear weapons and “keep them forever.”
The archbishop calls attention to the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force early last year. The United States, its allies and the other nuclear powers are avoiding this historic pact, adopted by a majority of countries in the world. Momentum for its full implementation grows as countries continue to sign and ratify the treaty. The letter refers to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in which Pax Christi International and hundreds of other civil society organizations advocate for the treaty. ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
“If we care about humanity, if we care about our planet, if we care about the God of peace and human conscience, then we must start a public conversation on these urgent questions and find a new path toward nuclear disarmament,” the pastoral letter says.
Nuclear weapons loom large in the archdiocese, located in the southwestern state of New Mexico. The state is the birthplace of the atomic bomb, the host of two nuclear weapons laboratories, and the site of the largest stockpile of US nuclear warheads.
For more on our work on nuclear disarmament, please click here.
Photo: Storm over the Trinity Site in White Sands Missile Range by Craig Dietrich via Flickr (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)