I SEE M T McCowan is taken to task — by D Pethebridge and J Prangley (Sept 18)— for indicting unilateralism as objectively "evil".
In contrast the only substantial criticism I would make of his letter relates to his final paragraph: viz, to
represent that The Catholic Church.' not only -must take an independent
stand on the nuclear issue" (as he states). but that she has already sufficiently done so — as I. for my part, have sought this last twelve months or so (possibly ad nauseam for unilateralists) to document from ad hoc Papal teaching.
Which prompts me to remark, in passing. how little this teaching has . been used as the obvious common ground on which to settle differences — surely its appointed role on moral issues from the first.
Thus the explicit ruling at Gaudiam et Sites. 82, that disarma ment must proceed not unilaterally" — as already laid down in Pacem in Terris, 118 — seems to me decisive: to deny it. at least "not good''.
The only reason I can sec, therefore, as W why the debate gets persistently bogged down on UND, to get no further is, its advocates' unawareness of what the Church essentially is: for instance. that "Together with its head, the Roman Pontiff — and never without this head" (Lumen Gentium. 212) is how the Church teaches, and how, in particular, Our Lord's prayer for the
faith of Peter (Lk 22:31-32) lives on today — lest "Satan-, no less, "sift" the rest of us out of hand here and now "as wheat".
I specify "Papal teaching" therefore expressly to disqualify counter-teaching: especially now when — with threats of mass devastation (not only material — genetic. etc) hanging over men and women in their millions — other voices also profess to speak for Christ.
And what more promising harvest could Satan want? "Lo here is Christ, or there!" — to recall Christ's own warning in Matthew Chapter 24.
However deeply therefore we may deplore, with Vatican II. "the
frightfulness of war" and the material and moral damage.' that will ensue (G S 77 and 79); if we then proceed to resist, whittle down, conceal. whatever, the parts we don't agree with, we can hardly complain if the result is dubbed "evil".
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God ... and all these (other) things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33) would seem to reflect the right sense of proportionality.
I infer thus far that the increasing power of weaponry available to the forces of evil today serves only to reinforce the traditional rejection of unilateralism by successive Popes — e.g. John XXIII in Pacem in Terris. 118; and Paul VI through G S 82; because of the heightened danger each sees to the very mission of the Church in her duty to preserve and dispense the redemption won for the race as a whole to each member of it she can reach.
It is a two-way compact, I suggest. The Church, becoming "more and more aware that she is the guardian of a great treasure which she may not waste" (Redemptor Hootinis. 18 The Church as concerned for man's vocation in Christ), seeks the support she needs, which we for our part — whether singly or as a nation — may not refuse.
For we in our turn "are bought with a great price". (I Cor 6:20) We are not "ours" to be left around by well-meaning people for anyone who wants to take.
Yet is riot this, in effect. what our zealous unilateralists plan to do. over our heads, labelling the process Christianity? Understandably, not everyone wishes to use force in defence of their rights; nor need they (GS 78) — "so long as this can be done without harm to the rights and duties of others or of the community." But does "Profess and Survive" — whose triumphal recent conference your report — take the point'? And do its supporters?
I suggest that we need, as it were. to start again; and following in the steps of Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, to temper our fears "that at
any moment the impending storm may break upon us with horrific violence" (111), and re-direct them (as he instructs) towards reducing "The stockpiles ... all round and simultaneously" (112). basing the "deliberations" to effect this (and much else) on "mutual trust" (118). It is of course the same trust Vatican II sees as the virtual sine qua non out of which "Peace must be born" (GS 82) — if it is to be born at all.
Admittedly. surveying the world scene of rival nuclear powers. large and small, each tense with suspicion, one might despair. Not so! "We must have the courage to believe that (peace is) possible ... But ... this trust has to be gained ... has to be deserved.
But when an individual does not accept his responsibility for the common good. when a nation does not feel that it has a share of responsibility for the destiny of the world. trust is jeopardised.(John Paul II. Peace Day Message. 1 Jan 1981 — my italics.)
That we should go"ntutuar —not "unilateral" — we owe. I suggest, to our neighbour; while our obedience to St Peter's successor we owe to Christ.
S E MacKenzie THE NATION/Vs Conference of Priests, meeting last week in Birmingham voted by a distinct majority for a clearer lead on the possession of nuclear weapons and said the building and holding of such weapons was morally %Nig and should be condemned.
The Bishops have refused to condemn the possession of nuclear weapons as opposed to their use.
In 1950 the French bishops condemned the use of atomic weapons. and clearly the possession and manufacture of them.
Since the layman is vitally concerned clarification by the clergy on the morals of' nuclear war would be welcome.
J J O'Connor