Thursday, July 30, 2009

Archbishop O'Brien Calls for 'Path to Zero' Nuclear Weapons in Talk to Deterrence Symposium

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)  News Release


July 30, 2009



Archbishop O’Brien Calls for ‘Path to Zero’ Nuclear Weapons in Talk to Deterrence Symposium


WASHINGTON “Our world and its leaders must stay focused on the destination of a nuclear-weapons-free world and on the concrete steps that lead there,” said Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore in a July 29 keynote talk at the first Deterrence Symposium, hosted by U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.




The symposium brought together academic, government, military and international experts to explore the full range of deterrence thinking. Archbishop O’Brien sits on the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and served as the Archbishop for the Military Services prior to his appointment to Baltimore.


In his talk, Archbishop O’Brien drew on longstanding Catholic teaching that nuclear deterrence is only acceptable to prevent others from using nuclear weapons and as a step along a path to a world without nuclear weapons. He cited the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. bishops.


He said that deterrence, in the words of the U.S. bishops, is not “a long-term basis for peace” and added that “…the spread of nuclear weapons and technology to other nations, and the threat of nuclear terrorism, which cannot be deterred with nuclear weapons, point to the need to move beyond nuclear deterrence as rapidly as possible.”


Archbishop O’Brien outlined several concrete steps toward total nuclear disarmament supported by the Catholic Church, including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, and the revision of military doctrines of nuclear weapon states to “renounce the first use of nuclear weapons” and “declare they will not be used against non-nuclear threats.”


“Religious leaders, prominent officials, and other people of goodwill who support a nuclear-weapons-free world are not naïve about the task ahead,” Archbishop O’Brien said. “They know the path will be difficult and will require determined political leadership, strong public support, and the dedicated skills of many capable leaders and technical experts.  But difficult is not impossible.”


The full text of Archbishop O’Brien’s talk, “Nuclear Weapons and Moral Questions: The Path to Zero,” can be found online at




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