The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, reiterates the moral imperative to eliminate nuclear weapons, and calls on all parties to respond to the nuclear threat with a collective and concerted response.
“As long as nuclear weapons exist, we cannot rule out the possibility of their use, which threatens ‘any possible future for our common home’ as well as humankind’s very existence,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, quoting Pope Francis, on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September.
Grounding his speech in the current scenario in which the conflict in Ukraine has brought large-scale war back to Europe and triggered “the repugnant threat of the use of nuclear weapons,” the Vatican Secretary of State said this “illustrates just how close the world has come to the abyss of nuclear war.”
Looming threat with devastating consequences
He was addressing the UN High-level Meeting to Commemorate the International Day when he described the “looming threat” and its devastating implications for all humanity as a “costly and dangerous liability, which undermines international security.”
The Cardinal recalled Pope Francis’ call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons that is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative.”
Cardinal Parolin recalled the August Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), decrying the fact that “the actions of nuclear-weapon States (…) leave us far from achieving this goal.”
Modernization and expansion of nuclear arsenals
“Through the modernization and expansion of nuclear arsenals, these States are increasing their reliance on nuclear deterrence, rather than meeting their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT,” he said.
On a more positive note, the Cardinal acknowledged that “the nuclear disarmament regime does not lack direction.”
He was referring to a June Declaration by the States Parties of the Treaty to ensure that progress can be made on nuclear disarmament, especially in the areas of verification, victims’ assistance, and environmental remediation.
“The Holy See reiterates its hope that irrespective of their positions on the TPNW, States with nuclear weapons will contribute to such efforts.”
Thus, Cardinal Parolin urged States to work to achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and launch negotiations “on treaties on fissile material and on negative security assurances.”
Need for collaborative and concerted action
Quoting the Pope’s 2019 speech at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, he said that achieving “the total elimination of nuclear weapons requires a response that is collective and concerted, based on mutual trust and considers the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear use.”
And expressing concern for the terrible threat they pose to our very existence, he appealed for common action.
“Let us each examine how we can help create an environment conducive to reaching our shared objective.”
With thanks to Vatican News and Linda Bordoni, where this article originally appeared.