Called to be Peacemakers

A document that presents a Catholic approach to arms control and disarmament.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Caritas, Justice and Peace

A new document on disarmament and the ethical use of weapons has been released by the International Affairs department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Called to be Peacemakers is a document that presents a Catholic approach to arms control and disarmament.

The document argues that if Catholics are to take up Christ’s call to stand as peacemakers in our troubled world, an integral part of this mission involves working to limit the proliferation of weapons and to advance the cause of global disarmament.

“There’s an urgent need for us, as Christians, to advocate for an end to violence and war in our world today,” said Bishop Nicholas Hudson, newly-elected Chair of the International Affairs department. “More than 140,000 people are killed each year due to armed conflict, not to mention the wider impacts of war, such as restricted access to clean water, food, healthcare and basic services.

Called to be Peacemakers presents the arguments for disarmament - in terms of both conventional and nuclear weaponry - through a Catholic lens informed by Catholic social teaching.

“Vast sums of public money are spent on weaponry. One can legitimately argue that these funds could be better used to alleviate hardship and promote the common good of humanity.

"This is a challenging time for the global community and we are called to promote peace and unity among nations - both seeking an end to war and at the same time addressing some of the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time such as the impact of climate change. No country acting on its own can solve these problems.”

Called to be Peacemakers stresses that every human life lost to violence and conflict is a tragedy for our universal family. It examines three main areas:

The Church’s call for nuclear disarmament

We have a particular responsibility to respond to Pope Francis’ call to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, to foster a climate of trust and dialogue.

The Church’s call for General and Complete Disarmament

This does not mean the removal of literally all weaponry and defence capabilities. Rather, it is about eliminating weapons of mass destruction, regulating conventional arms, lowering military spending, and strengthening mechanisms for peace.

The Church’s call to put emerging technology at the service of humanity

Until a binding treaty ensuring the human supervision of lethal autonomous weapons systems is negotiated, the Church supports enforcing a moratorium on the development and use of such weapons.

Each of these sections concludes with a series of action points.

Co-author Bishop William Kenney, a long-term opponent of nuclear weapons, said that courageous decisions should be taken on a global scale:

“I would echo Pope Francis' call that now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility. Nations have a right to defend themselves, it is even in the Gospel, the man who keeps watch will stop the burglar coming. But that right should not be extended. Global cooperation is needed when it comes to meaningful disarmament, and we must foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue."

The department bishops are also concerned about fast-developing autonomous weaponry and the ethics around how they are used, particularly weapons programmed to identify and attack targets without the need for further human intervention.

Bishop Declan Lang, former chair of the International Affairs department, said:

“Globally we have been too slow to acknowledge the immorality of different forms of weaponry such as Chemical or Blinding Laser Weapons. We must learn from this and work towards a global moratorium on the development and use of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). We cannot abdicate our moral responsibilities."


You can read or download Called to be Peacemakers here:

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