From Mr Michael Breheny
SIR — In reply to Cardinal Martino, who supports the Scottish bishops who don't want to replace Trident (Report, September 8), I am at a loss as to how he can ignore, at least in part, the teaching of the Church in regard to unilateral versus multilateral disarmament.
Democratic governments have a right and a duty to defend their people. Faced with a nuclear aggressor, that must mean a nuclear deterrent. as not to have a deterrent is to leave a country completely defenceless, which a government must not do, as Pope Pius XII clearly implied (L'Osservatore Romano, May 22, 1958).
Significantly, the cardinal supports "general, balanced and controlled disarmament", but he then goes on to support the Scottish bishops who don't want to replace the Trident system in 20 years time, which is unilateral disarmament by default.
This unilateral disarmament is the very opposite of "general, balanced and controlled disarmament" that Cardinal Martino desires.
The view of the Church has always been that governments have a right and duty to defend their people, and in the case of a nuclear threat it must have a deterrent, as long as that threat exists, And so if the state anticipates that that threat will certainly exist a long way into the future, it should prudently plan to have a deterrent at that time. That is the clear implication of what the Church holds.
Clearly, as long as other countries have nuclear weapons (and that number may grow in the future) some of those nations will be a real threat to this country 20 years from now, and almost certainly all present nuclear weapons states will still have such capabilities when Trident becomes obsolete. We therefore must have a deterrent.
Communist North Korea, one of the most tyrannical regimes on earth, has just acquired a nuclear capability and has just 4red to test-fire a 9,000-mile range miSsile which can hit America, and has capability which will become quite threatening to Britain in time.
If the vemment did not maintain its deterr nt 20 years from now it would le ve Britain completely defenceless against ruthless tyrants, who wouldn't hesitate to kill millions of us but for a deterrent.
British governments are not opposed to genera reductions in nuclear weapons as long all other nuclear weapons tates agree, but that appears very unli ely for a long time as some, and prob bly most, won't agree.
I am aid that Rome hasn't really thought ough the frightening implication of its view in this regard. We should press ahead with a Trident replacement.
Yours faithfully, MICHtL BREHENY Leeds, Yorks