At a meeting on the impact of nuclear arms last week, the Holy See complained that institutions have not found the proper solution to address the nuclear arms issue, and praised the gathering as a new hope towards nuclear disarmament. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's Permanent Observer at the UN office of Geneva, spoke Dec. 9 in Vienna at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. It was the first of these conferences to be attended by some of the five officially recognized nuclear powers, with both the United Kingdom and the United States taking part. The meeting gathered 158 countries, and concluded with the request of an immediate ban on nuclear weapons. Archbishop Tomasi underscored “the positive steps made” toward “the goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” but stressed that the Holy See “still thinks these steps are limited, insufficient, and frozen in space and time.” “The institutions that are supposed to find solutions and new instruments are deadlocked. The actual international context, including the relationship between nuclear weapons states themselves, does not lead to optimism,” Archbishop Tomasi stressed. The final statement adopted by the conference states that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, there remains the possibility of a nuclear explosion. Even if the probability is small, given the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear weapon detonating, the risk is unacceptable." According to Archbishop Tomasi, this "humanitarian initiative" is a new hope to make decisive steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. “The partnership between states, civil society, the ICRC, international organizations, and the UN is an additional guarantee of inclusion, cooperation and solidarity. This is not an action of circumstance. This is a fundamental shift that meets a strong quest of a large number of the world’s populations which would be the first victims of a nuclear incident,” the Holy See permanent observer maintained. The Holy See has watched closely the state of the discussions at the Conferences for the Humanitarian Impact of the Nuclear Weapons. The Holy See’s final goal is that of an integral disarmament, but on the other hand the Holy See is working on a step by step approach to the issue. Archbishop Tomasi recalled that “the term national security often comes up in discussions on nuclear weapons. It seems that this concept is used in a partial and biased manner. All states have the right to national security. Why is it that the security of some can only be met with a particular type of weapon whereas other states must ensure their security without it?” The British delegation make it clear it does not consider a complete ban on nuclear weapons viable, saying it would endanger political stability. Archbishop Tomasi indirectly responded to the British delegation by underscoring that “reducing the security of states, in practice, to its military dimension, is artificial and simplistic.”
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.