by Christopher Rails THE BRITISH section of Pax Christi, the International Catholic peace movement, has published a response to the English and Welsh hierarchy's questions of last November on nuclear disarmament. Fax Christi USA has joined four other church-based peace groups in a new effort to abolish nuclear weapons.
"Christians in support of Disarmament"* expounds some elements or the long-held principles about methods legitimate in a "just war". It examines the morality, or otherwise of using, or threatening to use, and possessing. nuclear weapons.
The booklet extends the argument to the field of unilateral disarmament, pointing out that this is often held to be a totally unrealistic, pacifist viewpoint.
Pax Christi argues that there is a moral imperative to refuse the Cruise missiles due for installation in Britain, and to stop the development of Trident nuclear submarines.
In answer to the bishops'
question: "Is it right to urge multilateral disarmament, seeing it as a stage towards multilateral disarmament'?" Pax Christi argues that "unilateral nuclear disarmament is an over-riding imperative (because) nuclear weapons. and nuclear strategies, are all intrinsically wicked" ... for the UK the minimum necessary (and therefore morally imperative) first step must be to go no further along the nuclear road than we have gone so far".
In the United States, the combined Christian peace groups opposing nuclear weapons called the New Abolitionist Covenant. The five groups said their effort recalls the movement of Christians in the 1800s to abolish slavery.
"Although it then seemed like an absurd. unattainable goal. abolitionists insisted that God required nothing less," said a statement by the five groups. Besides Pax Christi the five groups include the Fellowship of Reconciliation, New Call to Peacemaking, World Peacemakers and Sojourners. Their statement was released in connection with the 36th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan, August 6 and 9. 1945. "The nuclear threat is not iust a political issue any more than slavery was," said the statement. "It is a question that challenges our worship of God and our commitment to Jesus Christ."
The statement said the potential for wholesale destruction by nuclear weapons makes their possession an offence against God and humanity, no matter what the justification. "Through deliberation and prayer we have become convinced that Jesus call to be peacemakers urgently needs to be renewed in the churches and made specific by a commitment to abolish nuclear weapons and to find a new basis for national security." it said.
"At stake is whether we trust in God or the bomb," it added.
The statement also said that continuing to spend "hundreds of billions of dollars in preparation for war while millions go hungry is a grievous failure of compas sion and an affront to God." According to the statement's authors, the New Abolitionist Covenant grew out of a group of Christians who began meeting a year ago on the need for a new movement against "the deadly momentum of the growing arms race." They said mime than 150.000 copies of the covenant would be distributed to churches over the next several months, • The Mayor of Hiroshima. Mr Takeshi Araki, read a statement in the city opposing nuclear weapons. He recalled Pope John Paul's visit to the city in February, and that the Pope had emphasised that to remember Hiroshima was to abhor nuclear war.
"The possession of nuclear weapons can no longer guarantee the security of the human race," said Mr Araki. "Only total nuclear disarmament can guarantee security and thus pave the way for peace. We must recognise the truth."
*From: Pax Christi, Southampton Road, London NW5, price 50p plus postage.