NOTTINGHAM Justice and Peace Commission has condemned weapons of mass destruction and expressed support for unilateral nuclear disarmament.
The Commission's conclusions result from discussions held in response to the request by the Bishops' Conference for debate on the disarmament issue, and are contained in a report circulated to the bishops and the Catholic press.
The commission's primary conclusion was that the use of weaponsof mass destructiuon, whether nuclear, chemical. or conventional. could never be morally permitted.
The term "weapon of mass destruction" was interpreted from the Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes, to mean
any weapon aiming "indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or wide areas with their inhabitants".
The fifth commandment, the commission agreed unanimously, also condemned such action.
No Catholic, concluded the commission, could claim lack of leadership on the basis of the Council's teaching and that of all recent Popes. But it was in favour of a major educational initiaitve within. the Church to compensate for what was seen as a low awareness among clergy and laity of the Church's teaching on this issue.
The commission also condemned the threat or intention to use a weapon of mass destruction. adding that the intention to commit an evil act was as wrong as the act itself.
They regarded it as "selfevident that unilateral nuclear disarmament. withdrawal from NATO and non-reliance on the USA nuclear umbrella" would be the logical end result if hypocrisy was to be avoided.
"Such a fundamental restructuring of European defence would obviously require time and study."
Only a minority of the commission believed nuclear weapons should be retained until negotiated, multi-national disarmament was achievable.
Printed copies of the statement. and suggestions for its use can be obtained from END. 6 Endsleigh Street, London WC111 ODX.