Pope plans new Catechism change to condemn nuclear deterrence

Pope Francis announced November 26 that he plans to change the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that the possession of nuclear weapons — even for purposes of deterrence — is immoral.

Dec 06, 2019

VATICAN: Pope Francis announced November 26 that he plans to change the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that the possession of nuclear weapons — even for purposes of deterrence — is immoral.

“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pontiff told reporters during an in-flight interview as he returned from a visit to Thailand and Japan. “Not only their use, but also possessing them.”

The Pope’s remark matched a statement that he had made in Hiroshima, saying that the possession of nuclear weapons was immoral. That stand was a significant step beyond previous Church teaching, which had condemned the offensive use of nuclear weapons but left open the possibility that a country might be justified in holding nuclear weapons in order to defend against a threat posed by other nations, including hostile nations that might retain a nuclear force.

When asked by a reporter whether he was rejecting the concept of legitimate defense, the Pope did not answer directly, saying that “there are issues regarding the international equilibrium that I cannot judge right now.”

“The idea of legitimate defense is always valid,” the Pope conceded; “even moral theology allows for it, but as a last resort.” He stressed: “Legitimate defense with weapons is a last resort.” But he did not amend his statement that nuclear weapons could not be used for defensive purposes.

Pope Francis also expressed misgivings about the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes: for the production of energy. “Safety systems have not yet been worked out,” he said. “It is my personal opinion, but I would not use nuclear energy until its use is completely safe.” Answering a question from a Japanese reporter, who had mentioned the Fukushima disaster, the Pope said that an accident at a nuclear power plant is immensely more dangerous and one at a conventional power plant.

In answer to another question, the Pope repeated his insistence that capital punishment can never be morally justified. “The death penalty cannot be carried out; it is immoral,” he said. He went on to say that it is also unacceptable to commute a death sentence into life imprisonment, because “any sentence must always allow for reintegration; a sentence without a ray of hope is inhuman.”--CWN

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