BAN THE BOMB: Catholic Bishops call on UK to “forsake its nuclear arsenal”. 


HMS Audacious  joins sister-submarines HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful which are already in-service and operating from Faslane. A further three boats – named Anson, Agamemnon and Agincourt – are currently under construction at BAE in Barrow. The Astute-class vessels are among the most sophisticated submarines ever constructed for the Royal Navy.

11 January 2021

A joint statement from the Catholic Bishops of Scotland, England and Wales has called on the UK Government to “forsake its nuclear arsenal” and to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which comes into force on Friday 22 January 2021.

The bulk of the UK’s nuclear missiles and submarines are based and stored in the hills around the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane and Coulport on the Gareloch.

The statement quotes from a message from Pope Francis’ to the UN calling the complete elimination of nuclear weapons a “moral and humanitarian imperative. It also urges the UK to “strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.”

The full text of the statement is shown below:

Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Bishop William Nolan and Archbishops Philip Tartaglia, whose archdiocese includes the Naval Base,  and Leo Cushley. Pictures by Bill Heaney

On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. This is a historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament and an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet.

In setting out the “moral and humanitarian imperative for complete elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis reminded us that “international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation.”[1]

We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal. The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the Common Good of all peoples.[2]

At the same time, we implore the government to strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.

Above all we pray: “Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity; pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit. Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.[3]

+Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

+William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway
Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

+William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

[1] Message to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination (23 March 2017)

[2] Statement on nuclear weapons (4 August 2020)

[3] Fratelli Tutti

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