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USCCB News Release Archives

April 26, 2010

Archbishop O’Brien Urges Ratification Of New START Treaty, Welcomes Nuclear Posture Review In Catholic University Panel Discussion

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Bishops urge members of the U.S. Senate to come together across party lines to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and also welcome the Nuclear Posture Review as a “significant, yet modest, shift toward a world free of nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore. He made his remarks, “Moral Reflections on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” April 26, at a symposium on the ethics of the Obama Administration’s nuclear weapons policy, held at The Catholic University of America (CUA).
Archbishop O’Brien called the New START Treaty, which reduces the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the United States, a “step in the right direction,” one that “sets the stage for future reductions.” He said the Nuclear Posture Review “does not go as far as the bishops urged and does not declare that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack against us or our allies,” but said it “embraces the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, recognizes the danger of nuclear terrorism, and narrows the use of nuclear weapons” against non-nuclear threats and states.
“These directions are morally sound,” Archbishop O’Brien said, “but more progress is needed to meet our moral responsibilities to rid the world of this disproportionate and indiscriminate threat to human life.”
Archbishop O’Brien cited Catholic teaching against nuclear war, from documents of the Second Vatican Council and the U.S. Bishops to Pope Benedict XVI’s assertion in 2006: “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”
Archbishop O’Brien said, in a moral analysis of nuclear weapons policy, every weapon and policy must be judged by the ultimate goal of a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons.
“Although we must always keep our eyes on the horizon of a world without nuclear weapons,” he added, “it is equally important to focus on our next steps because the journey is long and dangerous and we must take one step at a time if we are to be successful.”
The panel symposium, The Ethics of the Obama Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policy: Catholic Perspectives, included CUA professor Dr. Maryann Cusimano-Love, and General William Burns, both of whom serve as consultants to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Archbishop O’Brien is a member of that committee and served as Archbishop for Military Services for a decade until his 2007 appointment to Baltimore.
Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation, who was the lead U.S. negotiator of the New START Treaty, also participated in the event.
The full text of Archbishop O’Brien’s remarks can be found online at For more information on the U.S. Bishops’ teachings on nuclear weapons,visit
Keywords: nuclear weapons, Obama Administration, policy, Nuclear Posture Review, START, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, ratify, Senate, USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, disarmament, just war


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