Page 1, 10th June 1977

10th June 1977
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Page 1, 10th June 1977 — THERE HAVE always been two strands of thought about war
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THERE HAVE always been two strands of thought about war

in the Christian tradition. There is the one of total pacifism, an ideal for which many of the first

• h shalt not

kCilhTrra'ikslititnieagrnas d literally,• argued that it was immoral to give military service to the State and thereby credit it with such importance as only God deserved.

The other tradition, which grew up with the concept of the Christian State under the Holy hest formulated rn nr bmypesitoTrshowmaass 13 Aquinas in the theory of the just war.

Aquinas gave five clear conditions under which such a war could be fought, and since than many good Christians have gone to war in the firm belief that God was on their side.

Recently, however, and imperceptibly, the growth of modern weapons has utterly undermined four of the five conditions. It is impossible to wage a just war with modern weapons to solve modern political problems. This raises questions in three areas.

First, if, as Pope John said in

Pacem in Terris –nuclear weapons must be banned" can the possession of them as a deterrent be justified?

The second area concerns the sale of arms. The reason for these sales is not simply to maintain the balance of power; it is to finance the development of our own arms industry. It is a business of unparalleled cynicism, creating poverty and wasting resources.

The third area concerns defence itself, and bearing in mind that "'immoral attack does not justify immoral defence," the use of almost all modern weaponry in an international war would break at least one of the conditions for a just SOVVe wte. must ask ourselves how much is being spent on purely defeaisive technology and non-violent methods of

self-defence and how much on

so called defensive technology which is in fact retaliatory

INWEglt)n . We seemto be on an escalator racing upwards, of which the short-term aim is to keep up with our apparent political rivals on a parallel escalator, but the, short-term effect of which is to waste technology and human effort so that the long-term end may coincide with the end of civilisation -if not of the human race.

It is practically impossible to leap from the escalator, but it is possible to create a great awareness of where it is going, and to work to slow down and even reverse the process.

The document on arms sales produced by the British Council of Churches, though less incisive than that issued by the Justice and Peace Commission a year ago, is well worth reading. The booklet, "Christians end the Nuclear Disarmament" is vital reading.




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