The leading Protestant and Catholic church leaders in Scotland have renewed their criticism on Britain’s commitment to nuclear weapons and have called for a major non-proliferation effort – echoing similar calls from civic and peace campaigners.
Coinciding with a key meeting today between the signatory countries of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT), which gathers in Vienna, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rev Alan McDonald, and the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, have issued a joint statement calling for the NPT to be strengthened and saying that the UK government should renounce its plans to renew Trident.
Together the Presbyterian and the Catholic say: “Like millions of people around the world, we are deeply concerned that nuclear weapons are continuing to be manufactured, modernised, upgraded and renewed. We consider these weapons of mass destruction to be immoral, inhumane, and contrary to the teachings of all the world’s major faiths.”
They continue: “Nuclear dangers and human insecurity will increase if nuclear weapons continue to be treated by some countries as a currency of power or as if they were an indispensable part of defence for the foreseeable future.”
McDonald and O’Brien shared the platform with peace groups and politicians of all parties during a ‘Bin the Bomb’ rally in Glasgow in February 2007. The previous December they handed in an anti-Trident petition to the Ministry of Defence before going on to condemn renewal of the weapons system in their first ever joint New Year statement.
They argue that money spent on Trident could be better used on aid, global development and health care.
The church leaders declare: “We have urged the British government to take this historic opportunity to devalue these ‘weapons of terror’ and renounce its plans to renew Trident. Such a step would strengthen the NPT and underline that its core obligation is not just to reduce nuclear arsenals, but to eliminate them.”
Their latest statement concludes: “We believe that, instead of perpetuating nuclear proliferation, Britain could show real leadership and humanity.”