by Christopher Rails
DIOCESAN Justice and Peace members, Pax Christi, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are among those who have condemned the use of force in the Falklands crisis.
A statement signed by Gerry Martin, Chairman of the National Standing Conference of Diocesan Justice and Peace Groups, and 33 other justice and peace members from II dioceses, has been issued to the Bishops' Conference, the Government and the Catholic press.
The signatories say they are "increasingly alarmed" at developments in the crisis. They say they "cannot accept the present response of the British Government in despatching a Task Force (particularly as several of the ships involved are equipped to carry tactical nuclear weapons) with the avowed threat of opening fire on Argentinian vessels."
They urge all governments to avert the "real danger or war" by actively seeking a diplomatic solution, such as offering asylum to the islanders. And they call on the Church to publicly affirm the words of Pope John Paul II, when he stated that the waging of war w tts "not inevitable and II nchangeable".
Pax Christi, the International Catholic peace movement, has backed a plan to give the Falkland Islands special status under UN protection, with the initial use of a UN peace-keeping
lorce there after the withdrawal or Argentinian troops.
Pax Christi condemned the Argentine invasion, but quoted Pope John XXIII in saying: "It no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice."
The organisation called on the British Government to reassess its position and give serious consideration to non-violent ways of resolving the conflict. These would include economic sanctions, diplomacy and giving greater authority to the UN.
Mgr Bruce Kent, CND's general secretary, has maintained that the British Task Force is "well-equipped" with nuclear arms. He said that though there was no intention of using these weapons, the temptation to use them in the heat of battle might he overwhelming.
Other Christian leaders who have condemned the use of force include the Anglican Bishop, Dr John Robinson, and Dr Kenneth Greet, Secretary of the Methodist Church Conference.
• No Catholic army chaplains are travelling with the British troops sailing for the Falkland Islands, and no chaplains have yet been detailed to accompany the additional 1,000 troops being sent to join the task force this week. Mgr John Moran, principal army chaplain, said: "We have someone standing by ready to go, and we are seriously considering sending a chaplain." But, he explained, the task force was mainly a naval venture, and three naval chaplains were already sailing with the British fleet. The number of troops was not yet large enough to warrant the inclusion of an army chaplain, he said.