THE BISHOPS of the United States voted on Tuesday by 238 to 9 to publish a pastoral on peace and war which takes a tougher line on nuclear arms than the previous published draft. The bishops had followed the procedure of publishing the successive drafts of the pastoral advice from their bishops' conference. Before this week there had been three drafts. The third draft had called for a curb on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear arms by the United States and Soviet Union. But at a meeting of the bishops in Chicago this week an amendment was passed to toughen the line to a demand for a halt to nuclear arms production. They also seek bilateral verifiable agreements between the two super-powers to this end. A five-bishop drafting committee headed by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago met last month in Washington to catalogue written amendments sent in by bishops in advance of the meeting. The procedure for bishops' meetings allowed further amendments to be submitted from the floor in the course of the meeting. Precise information on the exact number or the nature or scope of the amendment proposals was not yet made public before the meeting. All American Catholics will be challenged by the US bishops' war and peace pastoral, and many could be led by it to try changing US defence policies or even to civil resistance, said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas He added that some Catholics influenced by the letter may well be led to forms of civil resistance to US policy such as the tax resistance undertaken by Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle. The letter does not counsel such resistance, he emphasised, but it is an option open to those who find themselves opposed in conscience.
Through successive drafts of the pastoral the Reagan administration showed an unprecedented interest in the outcome of a church document, lobbying persistently through Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger and William Clark, national security adviser.