LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Weapons are fueling conflicts across the globe with “catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable people,” warns a new document from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The bishops conference International Affairs department issued “Called to be Peacemakers” on Wednesday.

“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,” he said.

The document notes it has been over 40 years since Pope St. John Paul II visited Coventry, a city in England that suffered devastating bombing in World War 2.

“The voices of Christians join with others in urging the leaders of the world to abandon confrontation and to turn their backs on policies which require nations to spend vast sums of money on weapons of mass destruction,” John Paul said in 1982.

Hudson said today, 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,” the bishop said.

“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,” he continued.

“Called to be Peacemakers” examines three main areas: The Church’s call for nuclear disarmament; the Church’s call for general and complete disarmament; and the Church’s call to put emerging technology at the service of humanity.

Bishop William Kenney, a long-term opponent of nuclear weapons, is the co-author of the document.

He said that courageous decisions should be taken on a global scale, and echoed Pope Francis’s 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,” Kennedy said.

“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 bishop added.

The document says Christians have an obligation to promote nuclear disarmament, to challenge the arms trade, and to encourage restrictions on the creation of ever more destructive military technology.

“Of course, Jesus’ call for us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) goes far beyond such issues and we must also remain conscious of the impact that weaponry has on wider questions of peacebuilding and international relations,” reads the documents.

“Called to be Peacemakers” says here are many practical ways that Catholics throughout England and Wales can advance this mission, mentioning joining organizations working for justice and peace, engaging our political representatives to ensure that they are held to account, bringing these conversations into our parishes and schools, or taking part in public displays of support for peace.

Specifically, the document called on the UK government to take several actions to support peace.

– Ultimately forsake its nuclear arsenal, helping to create a world without nuclear weapons;

– Fulfil its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue an end to the nuclear arms race, to advance multilateral disarmament, to refrain from expanding its own arsenal, and to work towards reducing it at the earliest opportunity;

– Sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and, until this point, engage meaningfully with the treaty framework including participating as an observer in future meetings of signatories;

– And redirect the economic, social and political resources spent on nuclear weapons towards promoting the universal common good.

Bishop Declan Lang, former chair of the International Affairs department, was also a co-author of the document.

“Globally we have been too slow to acknowledge the immorality of different forms of weaponry such as Chemical or Blinding Laser Weapons,” he said.

“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,” Lang said.

Follow Charles Collins on X: @CharlesinRome