WITH REGARD to messrs Bond and MacKenzie. Jan 9. let us get our theology right. The Church teaches truth as to faith and morals. That is not to say that every word from an ecumenical council is infallible.
The Church is infallible only when teaching theological truth. She is not empowered to teach scientific or political or any other aspect of truth, but it is clearly her duty to state the moral norms applicable to these according to Christian teaching.
Nevertheless, Vatican 11 states that the individual informed conscience is paramount. because the Church recognises that human situations are rarely a straight choice between good and evil.
Clearly there must be counsels of perfection and also situation ethics. "Thou shalt not kill" and "turn the other cheek" belong to the former. which sotne wholehearted pacifists adhere to.
The right to defence against aggres sion is not absolute but depends on the circumstances of the situation. The Church declares the natural right to self-defence but does not say "in all or any circumstances whatsoever they may be".
Promulgating Vatican II, the Fathers repeated the old teaching on self-defence. which as a general proposition I do not question.
They also made known their views on the world situation then prevailing. with particular reference to collective security. This is a political statement with a particular application.
I submit that it cannot be regarded as authoritative teaching and that no Catholic can be bound by it as an infallible pronouncement. it is a matter on which each of us can and should make his or her own judgement according to conscience.
However, within the last six years or so we have had ample guidance on the matters involved. Both the late Pope Paul VI and our present Pope have been very outspoken on the subject of the nuclear arms race and armaments in general. in all their aspects. These are utterances which we should now be considering. not those following a Council of nearly 20 years ago, which in many respects is indeed "outmoded". such is the pace of contemporary development — as out of date as whichever Council sanctioned the burning of heretics hundreds of years ago.
Regarding unilateral nuclear disar mament, the proposition is born neither of fantasy nor fanaticism nor of self-interest, but, as far as I and many others are concerned. of a lifetime's experience of two world wars and their aftermaths and full knowledge of what is now involved.
On the part of the many thousands — probably millions — of young adults now taking part in the world campaign. it is the product of serious reflection and deep and anxious conviction.
We all know that time is fast running out and that it is useless to rely on speedy multilateral agreements. It is imperative that a genuine start on disarmament be made now — "tomorrow" will certainly be too late.
One prominent nation at least must
have the courage to set an example. Should we, the British. take this step. it would be far from making us "tacit collaborators in the violence and .injustices inherent in the status quo
is not that exactly what we are now?
The "cant and self-deception" is not on the side of the would-be disarmers. Justice? Can anyone be under the illusion that only the Communist world is guilty of injustice? Human rights? In non-communist Central and South America and the Republic of South Africa, for instance?
for one am under no illusion that we should be "finding an easy peace for ourselves". but. fifty years a Catholic, I would still rather face the possibility of existing under Communist dictatorship than risk the utter obscenity of nuclear war.
AS THIS new year 1981 is a runTup to the 1982 Second United Nations special disarmament session. good use should be made of this time to clear up doubts and misconceptions concerning the proposed UN system of world disarmament which is in the. common interest of all nations.
Last year the radio and TV channels gave more time for dialogue on this question but more coverage this year would be useful to keep the subject alive in the public mind and provide opportunities for enlightenment concerning the_possibility of the UN proposition and its practical nature.
At the first UN Disarmament Se.ssion in 1978 where common agreement was expressed concerning the danger and the expense of the arms race. one national delegate commented "Since humanity has had the intelligence to get into this predicament it should have the intelligence to get out of it."
Unfortunately, the intelligence required to get out of it is of a higher order and is not so readily exercisable as the depravity responsible for the arms race.
Commonsense should be sufficient now that the role of militarism as an arbiter in international disputes and as a 'defence agent has lost its significance through the Production of weapons against which there is little or no defence.
However. enmity between nations remains a stronger influence than the dictates of commonsense.
The saving grace for humanity exists in reconciliation. National governments should stop judging and punishing one another.
In today's circumstances nations should be in continual dialogue withthose who are presumed to be their enemy to discuss differing points of view in a friendly spirit.
I am aware that on the secular level the Christian injunction to love one's enemies can seem A nonsense and even disloyal in the context of international affairs but on the spiritual level it remains a redeeming and healing force.
Improving international climate must precede the 1982 UN Disarmament Session. The task is not hopeless. Already nations are showing restraint in circumstances in which they would have gone to war in days gone by. Also. the world response to appeals for help in natural disasters wherever they occur is an indication that when the hearts as well as the minds of nations are moved their divergencies are of little consequence.
We can all do something in this matter a establishing the safer. saner and more prosperous world according to our individual opportunities "you in your small corner and I in mine". Edith Hedger London SW10
TONY BOND says "Nuclear weapons permit a relatively moral modus vivendi with the evil of Communism".
It is clear the nuclear deterrent is immoral because it achieves a good end namely peace by means of a threat to murder the innocent civilian population in Russia. Regarding the Polaris submarine, Lord Chalfont stated in The Times "The Polaris Force depends for its credibility on its capacity to devastate Russian cities, among them the Soviet capital city, Moscow". The American Hierarchy in 1976 wrote "Not only is it wrong to attack civilian populations. but it is also wrong to threaten to attack them as part of a strategy of deterrence". J. J. O'C'onnor London N12 CORRESPONDENTS argue that unilateral disarmament would make us "tacit collaborators in violence and injustice" and lead us close to "national helplessness in the face of evil"?
Is there the slightest prospect or agreement between the two superpowers on even the most modest degree of disarmament. nuclear or otherwise'? And, if the existing "balance of terror" is a dangerous and deceptive illusion — as Pope John Paul has said more than once — what alternative is there for a Christian than to learn and to practise nonviolent methods of resistance to violence and injustice?
In view of the obvious concern of Mr Bond and Mr MacKenzie. and doubtless many others, about these matters. may I ask them to consider joining Pax Christi? At present the majority of its members support unilateral disarmament, and some are also pacifists, but membership is open to all lovers of peace. It is a movement in the Catholic Church seeking to follOw the meaning of Christ's message of peace for us today.
David Scutt Vice Chairman.
British Section Pax Christi London NW5 TONY BOND must surely realise that by opposing any move towards peace now, he is advocating violence.
The government of this country is certainly well aware that by increasing its nuclear weapons and by continuing to take a military stunce in the world, it is advocating violence.
Multilateral disarmament is impossible while countries like the USSR atm the USA remain in the hands of totalitarian capitalists or dictators.
Unilateral disarmament. however, is possible and this country is in a position to set an example to the rest of the world. In no way would disarmament jeopardise the integrity of this country or any other country. In fact. it would give encouragement to people struggling for peace all over the world. including the USSR and the USA.
Mr Bond has his priorities wrong by encouraging the rejection of abortion, contraception. divorce, pornography and homosexuality while leaving the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and hence violence. totally unchallenged.
Peace. love and understanding walk hand in hand. If we could attain peace then love and understanding would come also and these other points could be better dealt with.
All Christians should wholeheartedly throw their weight behind organisations like CND and feel it part of their vocation to actively campaign for disarmament.
Paul Joseph London N16 IN NO circumstance of provocation, or self-defence, do I wish my country to use. or threaten mass destruction upon innocent lives, no matter what may be their potential colour. Surely the tiny examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are sufficient evidence of such immoral behaviour.
Leonard Cheshire had no doubt of the evil, in which he was called upon to participate.
Jim King Ashford, iddlesex