NEW YORK — The pope’s envoy to the United Nations again stressed the need for nuclear weapons disarmament on Monday, calling worldwide adherence to the non-proliferation treaty an important step toward this goal.
“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security and the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion.” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio heading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, said Oct. 17.
“Nuclear weapons cannot create a stable and secure world. Peace and international stability cannot be established on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation. Lasting peace cannot be guaranteed by the maintenance of a balance of terror,” he added.
Instead, peace must be based on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, human rights, and building trust between peoples, the archbishop told a session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.
“The indefinite possession of nuclear weapons is morally wrong,” he added, deeming this an affront to the “entire framework of the United Nations” and a contradiction to its vocation of service to humanity and the global common good.
He cited Pope Francis’s September 2015 address to the U.N. The Roman Pontiff stressed the “urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons” and backed the non-proliferation treaty as a step towards “a complete prohibition of these weapons.”
Auza lamented resistance to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which requires nuclear states to divest themselves of their nuclear arsenals. He said this resistance undermines the credibility of boycotts, threats, and other forms of persuasion against countries suspected of developing nuclear weapons.
He called on the committee to redouble its efforts to help the U.N. General Assembly secure a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons.
Auza said that nuclear deterrence doctrine has made it more difficult to achieve nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.
It also raises the possibility that nuclear weapons will be deployed intentionally or by accident.
“The task we face is arduous and the challenges are multifaceted, but we must face them with hope, resolve and confidence,” the nuncio said.
“The Holy See echoes the cry of humanity to be freed from the specter of nuclear warfare. It is important for every schoolchild to know that a nuclear war would have horrendous consequences for people and the whole planet.”
The archbishop noted the Holy See’s regular support for nuclear disarmament anti-proliferation treaties and its participation in conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
Auza recounted the long history of the papacy’s opposition to nuclear warfare.
In February 1943, Venerable Pope Pius XII voiced deep concern about the violent use of atomic energy and later responded to the atomic bombings at the close of World War II.
“After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, observing the totally uncontrollable and indiscriminate consequences of nuclear weapons, Pope Pius XII demanded the effective proscription of atomic warfare, calling the arms race a costly relationship of mutual terror,” the nuncio said.