The importance of Catholic Global Solidarity is demonstrated by working towards progressive disarmament. Pope Benedict has also recently highlighted that a serious challenge to Catholics is military spending and developing nuclear arsenals. On Ash Wednesday 2010 Christians gathered in Whitehall for a liturgy of repentance and resistance to nuclear war preparations, to contribute to God’s path of peace and love.

Catholic Social Teaching – Global Solidarity

On Ash Wednesday 2010, around 40 Christians gathered at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall for an annual liturgy of Repentance and Resistance to nuclear war preparations which take place in the building. A liturgy with prayers, songs and symbolic actions took place, calling on the government to give up nuclear weapons. The word ‘Repent’ was written in ashes on a piece of sackcloth. The day was supported by Catholic Peace Action, Christian CND, Pax Christi and members of the Catholic Worker Movement.

In his address to the Diplomatic Corps the week before, Pope Benedict XVI said: “One of the most serious challenges is increased military spending and the cost of maintaining and developing nuclear arsenals. Enormous resources are being consumed for these purposes, when they could be spent on the development of peoples, especially those who are poorest. For this reason I firmly hope that, during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to be held this May in New York, concrete decisions will be made towards progressive disarmament, with a view to freeing our planet from nuclear arms.”

In 1963, a founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day, travelled to Rome to thank Pope John XXIII for his social teaching encyclical Pacem in Terris – “Peace on Earth”, (1963). He had warned that no state should pursue its own interests in isolation from others. He encouraged the pooling of resources to assist people and countries in need and demanded an end to the arms race. Catholics were urged to take an active part in public life and institutions, bringing the Gospel values to them. In 1965, the Vatican document, Gaudium et Spes – ”The Church in the Modern World”, (1965) described as “a crime against God and humanity” any act of war “directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants”.

Waging peace

Catholic Social Teaching promotes solidarity, that is the pursuit of justice and peace locally and globally. It urges us to recognise our common destiny and contribute towards bringing human society back to God’s path of peace and love. It has been an inspiration for the formation of Pax Christi, the International Catholic Movement for Peace, which provides peace education, training for protest without using violence, and campaigning against arms trading and nuclear weapons.

The Church rejects nuclear weapons, and in Britain, Church leaders seek to stop billions of pounds being spent on the renewal of Britain’s Trident Nuclear Weapons System. Members of the Catholic Worker Movement, Justice and Peace activists and Pax Christi members attend regular vigils held at the nuclear submarine base of Faslane in Scotland.

In his World Peace Day Message in January 2007, Pope Benedict XVI reflected that, “the way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the non proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling”. The following month, at a ‘Bin the Bomb’ rally, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland recalled the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God!” In 1982 the Scottish bishops said, “we must totally reject any ‘arms race’, any policy of revengeful slaughter, all greed and self-preservation at the expense of others”.  In 2006 the Bishops of England and Wales also urged the decommissioning of Britain’s nuclear weapons since they presented the “unconscionable threat of nuclear destruction”.

To contribute to peacemaking locally and globally visit the website of the London Catholic Worker and Pax Christi UK.


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