Catholic teaching and a new generation of nuclear weapons

By Barbara McCracken

Note: This testimony was given to the General Services Administration and Department of Energy at a public hearing about the new generation of manufacturing nuclear weapons, parts of which are slated for Kansas City. Presented on May 23, 2007.


I’m a religious sister, a nun, from the Atchison Kansas community of Mount St. Scholastica. I have lived and worked with the poor, and have been involved in peace and justice issues in Kansas City, Kansas for over 30 years. Currently I am assistant director of the Keeler Women’s Center at Donnelly College.

I would like to share with you a little information on the current teaching of the Catholic Church toward the possibility of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

There are those who believe the Catholic Church has lost some of its credibility to speak on social issues due to the sexual abuse scandals. However the Church is still highly involved in the full spectrum of life issues, teaching that all people and all of creation is made in God’s image. The Church constantly reminds all people of good will, to have at least enough love and respect for what God has made, to not kill or destroy it.

For those who accept this, the possibility of using nuclear weapons is unthinkable. The Holy See has numerous statements regarding nuclear weapons. As recently as last week the Holy Father’s permanent observer at the UN made three points that I would like to share with you, applying them to this country.

1) To counter terrorism the U.S. needs to move away from reliance on nuclear weapons as a central part of our nations’ military doctrine. There is a strong bond between nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.

2) We need to create a climate of confidence and cooperation with other nations. Nothing less than our collective security as a human family is at stake. The U.S. needs to pay more attention to treaties to reduce and eliminate these weapons of mass destruction. This would furnish a legal basis for international verification under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It could also assist in the elimination of nuclear weapons.

3) We need to raise awareness in the international community that the U.S. believes in peace, by doing analysis, and taking practical steps toward disarmament. That would mean abandoning the ill-conceived plans behind COMPLEX 20/30, The Reliable Replacement Warhead and other such abominations.

On a final note, as awareness of global warming increases I would like to see Dept. of Energy devote the $175 billion planned for COMPLEX 20/30 to be used, not on weapons, war and killing people, but on countering climate change.

Thanks you for your patience in listening to this. Know you will be remembered in the prayers of my Benedictine monastic community.


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