A Call to the Leaders of the World
call to the leaders of the world for the end of nuclear weapon
development and the total elimination of all existing nuclear weapons.
Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226.C.E.) who wrote to his
early followers that they were not to bear arms for any reason,
Franciscan men and women throughout the world have continued to advocate
peace and to challenge those caught up in the threatening arms race. The
recent nuclear weapons tests in India and Pakistan make us aware once
more how perilous are the threats to peace. A territorial war between
these two countries could lead to desperate use of atomic weapons across
the border. We are aware that other nations are attempting to develop or
purchase nuclear arms. The decrease in the control of the tens of
thousands of existing nuclear weapons makes the possibility of nuclear
outbreak even more frightening.
abundantly clear that no power, neither an individual nation nor the
United Nations, can prevent the widening spiral of proliferation,
despite the fact that 148 nations have signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. World health professionals insist that the
medical requirements of a nuclear exchange are unimaginable and
unavailable. The cost in human suffering would be enormous. Yet the
fateful day of such an exchange looms closer and closer.
Although there are many signatories to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test
Ban Treaty, we know that not all countries have signed. Even among those
who have signed, the necessary ratification by proper government bodies
is by no means certain. We are also aware that the treaty is interpreted
by some as allowing for various forms of sub-critical tests and tests by
simulation through new highly complex computer processes. Even with the
signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CNTB), the development of new,
more lethal nuclear weapons continues by the major powers while
proliferation among formerly non-nuclear states continues.
striking that India, for example, so long an advocate of the abolition
of all nuclear weapons, should be the most recent source of nuclear
expansionism. India still insists that it is ready to sign the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and to join the signers of the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if they see the major nuclear powers
clearly moving towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons as
required by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Unfortunately, it is obvious that the major powers, while willing to
negotiate some reductions in arms, plan to maintain sizable nuclear
forces well into the next millennium which provides India, and other
countries, with the excuse not to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
genuinely believe that there is an overwhelming desire among the people
of the earth to remove the specter of nuclear devastation from the face
of the planet. The world's number one agenda should be how to safely rid
the world of the instruments of evil and destruction. We urge all
nations, especially the major nuclear powers, to respond positively to
the challenge for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
October 1997 Archbishop Renato Martino spoke on behalf of Pope John Paul
II to the United Nations:
Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st
century. They cannot be justified. They deserve condemnation. The
preservation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty demands an unequivocal
commitment to their abolition. This is a moral challenge, a legal
challenge and a political challenge. That multibased challenge must be
met by the application of our humanityY Let not the immensity of their
task dissuade us from efforts needed to free humanity from such a
statement reflects an earlier historic call by the International Court
of Justice July, 1996. The court stated:
threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the
rules of International law applicable to armed conflict, and in
particular the principles and rules of humanitarian lawYThere exists an
obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion
negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under
strict and effective international control."
was a period of time when it was considered acceptable for a nation to
keep some nuclear weapons for deterrence while proceeding to remove them
from existence. However, the nuclear powers do not intend to completely
rid themselves of their huge stockpiles of massive and indiscriminate
means of destruction. In fact they are proceeding to test and develop
even more sophisticated nuclear weapons.
we call for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. The number and
disbursement of nuclear weapons throughout the world makes their sudden
use dangerously imminent. We also draw attention to the drastic impact
that the nuclear weapons industry has on the poor, especially children.
It is not only the destruction caused in the event of their use, but we
protest the vast amounts of resources invested in research, development
and production of these weapons of mass destruction.
INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE
Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, we work for the rights of every human
being, especially the most marginalised, as well as the respect for all
of creation. In our International gatherings we have reiterated our
abhorrence of war and have especially condemned the building,
stockpiling, research and the use of nuclear weapons.
enter the Third Millennium, we address this letter to you in the same
spirit as St. Francis had when he addressed his
"Letter to the Rulers of the People." He
wrote out of concern, both for the Rulers and for the people. So too, we
write to you with sincere concern for all the nations of the world. We
Franciscans urge you to abolish all nuclear weapons and to commit our
resources to the human and spiritual needs of the world community.
Unless we do this, the horrendous dangers that threaten the human race
General Minister SFO
Sr. M. Carola Thomann
President IFC - TOR
Fr. Giacomo Bini
Minister General, OFM
Fr. John Corriveau
Minister General OFM Cap.
Fr. Agostino Gardin
Minister General OFM Conv.
Fr. Bonaventure Midili
Minister General TOR