Page 4, 16th January 1987

16th January 1987
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Page 4, 16th January 1987 — Knuckle-rapping for the placid Lady?
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Knuckle-rapping for the placid Lady?

NO DOUBT Lady Olga Maitland's placid views (January 2) about the present disarmament situation will get, from other sources, such correction as they call for. Our concern is not to argue but to plead for peace among the peace-makers — and, more importantly, joint action.

It is over 40 years since Hiroshima and 20 years since the official comments of Vatican II. And it seems scandalous to us that Christians are still not speaking with one voice on the matter or working together to influence politicians towards that measure of disarmament called for by popes and bishops.

We are proposing, with help from certain Justice and Peace groups, to launch a nuclear FREEZE petition in our diocese.

This simply says: there are over 50,000 nuclear weapons — enought to destroy the earth and everyone on it many times over. Therefore we want our government to support the UN call for a multilateral agreement that no more shall be added.

There are obvious reasons why the present is a splendid time at which to start such a nuclear FREEZE, and it is the essential first step before arms reduction can take place.

In America and on the continent there is a rising tide of *LADY Olga Maitland declares that "the task we all face, is how to reduce the nuclear stockpile without destabilising the strategic balance..."

Sadly, NATO policy has shown little or no sign of following these guide-lines.

If we are serious about nuclear disarmament and reducing the nuclear stockfile, then we in this country should reject both Cruise and Trident missiles (the latter representing a significant escalation of the nuclear arms race). We should also make a positive response to the Soviet Union's decision to impose a unilateral nuclear test ban. Where is our sense of "balance" there?

Futhermore, the whole concept of the Strategic Defence Initiative ("Star Wars") is designed exclusively to destroy this "strategic balance" of which Lady Olga writes, by giving NATO nuclear superiority.

John Smart Birmingham *WE WISH we could be as hopeful as Lady Olga Maitland support. And, in our own country, the United Reformed Church has just handed to No 10 Downing Street a FREEZE petition bearing 11,000 signatures from its members.

The Scottish churches have united powerfully behind a similar campaign, and there is remarkable inter-church FREEZE co-operation in the English western counties.

We have already sounded the ground with a pilot petition, supported by our own bishop and our own parish priest. One brief appearance in St John's Cathedral produced 171 signatures and, in our own parish, 95 per cent of the congregation signed after a special weekday Mass.

Our efforts may not achieve fantastic results, but they are uniting solid, "respectable" Christians in support of precisely those sentiments expressed in the Vatican II document — and in precisely the kind of Christian action in society which Vatican II called for.

We should be glad to hear from other Catholic groups which seek the same end.

John Derrington Hon Secretary Waveney Pax Christi Group Lowestoft, Suffolk appears to be that a great reduction in nuclear weapons is about to be achieved soon. In all the many years that we have been concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons, governments and heads of government have constantly stated their wish to reduce stockpiles and eventually rid the world of these weapons.

In Britain the Trident programme represents a very great increase in nuclear weaponry: an increase that can hardly be described as a temporary measure since the development and deployment will cover a period of many years.

The UN Charter of 1945 forbids the "use of threat of force" in resolving international disputes. The nuclear deterrent depends on the threat of unimaginable violence. Are we Christians afraid to try the gospel message, a message that should lead us to seek other ways of resolving conflict, ways that do not depend on violence or the threat of violence?

Owen and Doreen McCann Cheshire




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