What happened in 1945 is history; however, it does provide instruction for us today. In 2002, the United States opted out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. The United States is still a signatory to the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation treaty. Under that treaty, the United States may continue to maintain and upgrade its nuclear weapons. The 2007 budget requested $2.4 billion for nuclear weapons. These funds will upgrade our nuclear capabilities. There is also a push for a new core pit facility which would make the triggers for the bombs. Why do we have to spend $2.4 billion to upgrade our nuclear arsenal when already have enough fire power to destroy the world many times over? Why are we continuing to develop more sophisticated nuclear weapons? Why do we spend money on nuclear weapons when someone in the world (the US included) dies of hunger every 6 seconds and when someone dies of a preventable illness every 9 seconds? Would $2.4 billion not alleviate a lot of death and needless suffering?
Budgets are moral documents and the continued funding of nuclear weapons raise serious issues. First, there seems to be an emerging sense that we must find ways to avoid war. Even for those who accept the just war theory, it is becoming increasingly evident that we cannot meet the conditions required for a â€œjust warâ€ because of the â€œcollateral damageâ€ to large numbers of civilians.
As long ago as 1965, Pope Paul VI said in addressing the United Nations: â€œThe armaments race is to be condemned unreservedlyâ€¦It is in itself an act of aggression which amounts to a crime, for even when they are not used, by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.â€ The Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, says that â€œThe arms race is a virulent plague.â€
The FY 2008 budget for all military and security costs is estimated to be $727 billion.
In 1983, the American bishops issued The Challenge of Peace and wrote, â€œNuclear weaponry has drastically changed the nature of warfare, and the arms race poses a threat to human life and human civilization which is without precedent.â€ The bishops remind us that we must address current issues, such as nuclear weapons, â€œin light of the gospel which has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ.â€ People are becoming more and more aware that Jesus Christ was the nonviolent Lamb of God who taught us to love our enemies and return good for evil. The bishops specifically addressed deterrence, â€œno use of nuclear
weapons which would violate the principles of discrimination [discriminating between combatants and civilians] or proportionality [response must be proportionate to the evil that provoked the response] may
be intended in a strategy of deterrence.â€ The bishops also wrote, â€œThe arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race. It is to be condemned as a danger, an act of aggression against the poor, and a folly which does not provide the security it promises.â€
Pope Benedict XVI is speaking out for peace. In a June visit to Assisi, he said, â€œI consider it my duty to issue an urgent and heartfelt appeal from this place to stop all armed conflicts that are bloodying the earth. May weapons be silenced and may hate yield to love, offense to pardon, and discord to unity! In July 2007 while vacationing at Lorenzago di Cadore, the Pontiff said, â€œFrom this place of peace here in the north of Italy, where one feels even more vitally how unacceptable the â€˜useless bloodbathsâ€™ are, I renew the call to follow with tenacity the way of law, to firmly renounce the arms race, to reject in general the temptation to face new situations with old systems.â€
As Catholic Christians, we have an alternative to war and the just war theory. We are being called upon to embrace the nonviolence of Jesus. â€œReturn good for evil.â€ â€œLove one another as I have loved you.â€ â€œLove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.â€ Forgive one another.â€ There are no exceptions to these commands! Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy puts a unique perspective on these mandates. In a philosophy of morality, the ultimate goal is survival. Under this rubric, we are not allowed to kill unless something threatens our security whatever that may be. For the followers of the nonviolent Jesus, there are no exceptions. Jesus is not saying, â€œLove you enemies unless their control of oil reserves threatens your lifestyle.â€ No. It is â€œLove your enemies!â€ Abba Father is our security. We follow Jesusâ€™ commands and trust in a loving God to give us what we need. â€œDo not worry. Do not fret. Look at the lilies of the fields and the sparrows and see how God cares for them.â€ Our security is not in guns and bombs and nuclear weapons. Our security is in a God who love usâ€”a God who will take care of us if we confront evil nonviolently as Jesus, the Lamb of God, did on the cross.
In February, Pope Benedict XVI said:
Christian nonviolence…does not consist in surrendering to evil – as claims a false interpretation of “turn the other cheek” (Luke 6:29) – but in responding to evil with good, (Romans 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God’s love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution.â€™