'WOULD that France could set a magnanimous example by giving up its planned explosion and in doing so could convince some powerful nations, proud and jealous of their nuclear monopoly, that they too should give up an egoistic monopoly. In doing so they would he resolutely moving towards pacific aims and the sharing of scientific wealth which belongs to universal science. The example of our beloved country would thus accomplish in the world a great mission of fidelity to its vocation, gaining thereby a moral prestige which would ensure the confidence and the sympathy of all peoples."
These are the words of Mgr. Emile Guerry, Archbishop of Cambrai. in a long statement explaining why he has signed an appeal addressed to the religious, moral, intellectual, and scientific leaders of his country that France should voluntarily renounce any experimental nuclear explosion and support the proposals of the International Red Cross Committee which would lead to the interdiction of nuclear armaments altogether.
WE believe that in this country, which is among those called by the archbishop "proud and jealous of their nuclear monopoly," there are more and more people whose consciences are worried by defence policies which, of their nature, involve the readiness. if necessary, `to set in motion or to participate in the chain-reaction of nuclear explosions which would destroy the civilised world as we know it.
Among Catholics and Christians, conscious of the truth that in the final analysis material destruction, however immense, is less of an evil than the betrayal of the spiritual and moral values of revealed truth and its political application in a spiritually free society, the most convincing reasons for our renouncing the nuclear weapon is simply one of commonsense.
This country, it would be contended. cannot with it own bombs add anything to the effectiveness of the deterrent value of the nuclear armaments of the only two great poweis in the world today, Yet its example in unilaterally renouncing the bomb could prove to be a powerful factor in deterring other smaller nations from join ing the nuclear club (as Gaul .. list France is doing) and thus prevent the greatest danger of all: a world in which every nation would wish to be nuclear-armed.
Mgr. Guerry, on the other hand. as an archbishop has made it clear that he has signed the appeal on religious and moral grounds. Indeed. he. signed subject to three conditions.
The first'was that all political implications should be set aside; second, that the appeal should be universal in character, excluding no nations; third, that its character should be to bring to the attention of the responsible authorities "the anguish of the public conscience in the face
of the terrible threats which weigh on the peace of the world and the very life of humanity," The archbishop recalls Pope Pius Xll's 1955 Christmas message in which the late Pope raised three interrelated questions: renunciation of nuclear experiments, renunciation of the use of such weapons: and the general control of armaments. The promotion of these ends was, the. Pope said. "a duty of conscience for the peoples and their governments."
In their light Archbishop Guerry asks whether the United States' readiness to resume tests may not involve the possibility that the French explosions may start a new armaments race with dire consequences. since other nations may fed entitled to do the same as France.
Even though in present conditions nations must have a right to ensure their defence, so long as any hope of general disarmament remains one is entitled to hold that in the name of the moral virtue of prudence everything should be undertaken and everything avoided in the hope that peace can reign in the world.
THE teaching of the Church lies between two erroneous approaches to the problem of armaments: the sentimental pacifism which gives up everything; and a materialistic realism which measures the greatness and strength of a nation by the material strength of its armaments.
Only the teaching of the Church can give real greatness and strength to a nation, and this teaching comprises three main principles.
The first is a passionate attachment to the moral force of what is right and good as prior to the material force of arms.
The second is the possession of the will to peace and the resolution to establish peace in the world.
The third is "a loyal and generous co-operation in the creation of a community of peoples and an international order of peace, justice, brotherhood, economic solidarity among all nations, helping all peoples, especially the weakest, to share in the riches of the earth and a universal betterment." Hence the duty to share scientific discoveries not least in the field of atomic research.
France's rejection of the coming nuclear experiment would seem to Mgr. Guerry a' means of witnessing to the country's devotion to such positive means of ensuring the building up of the kind of era of peace and co-operation that alone could exorcise the present international troubles, Mgr. Guerry, it seems to us, has given us all a practical Catholic lead — by no means irrelevant to the cause of Christian unity—in the task that today is facing the nations and mankind. It is up to us to meditate on its implications and to examine our consciences when we glibly accept national policies.