I REFER to S E MacKenzie's long and involved letter against pacifists and unilateralists having the blessing of the Church, For that is what he seems to be saying.
He quotes Benedict XV (Aug. 1917) as saying that "the moral force of right shall be substituted for the material force of arms. but then calls on the authority of Vatican II to justify a "legitimate" use of nuclear weapons in self-defence.
My knowledge of the teachings of Jesus may well be incomplete. but I do not know of Him anywhere advocating violence of any kind, let alone the use of nuclear weapons.
Since Vatican ll, many people have become increasingly aware of the nature of the arms race and its dangers. We have all paid lip-service to multilateral disarmament, but 35 years have been wasted by such policies.
True, we have had peace; 150 other countries have not been so lucky (except in as far as nuclear weapons were not used on them).
I am not seeking to challenge the authority of the Church, but 1 think (and hope), that the attitude of Church leaders is changing, just as the attitude of the laity is.
Paradoxically, it was my conversion to Catholicism which has made me conscious of issues such as disarmament, But maybe we will soon have some concrete statement on this question; I sincerely hope so. As for me, I am making do with the follow ing information (from the Church as opposed to other sources) for the time being; • From the Pope's message at Hiroshima: "Let us take a solemn decision now that war will never be tolerated ... we will work untiringly for disarmament. and the banishing of all nuclear weapons." (The word multilateral is missing).
• From the Easter People (section 169): "We are deeply concerned about the morality involved in the possession of the nuclear deterrent, and we are currently engaged in a study of this complex problem." (Even the possession of nuclear weapons is questioned, but I hope the study is speedily concluded) • Pax Christi is openly telling its members to work for peace by, among other things. joining CND.
As members of the Church. we are all members of the Body of Christ, Our attitude to authority should perhaps be more like that of Jesus than that of S E MacKenzie. In my experience. the people who are informed are all in favour of unilateral disarmament; it is the ones who are (perhaps unwittingly) ignorant who still believe in the deterrent.
J Parkinson Cheshire S E MacKENZIE would do well to desist from insulting his brothers and sisters in Christ. We who advocate unilateral disarmament have no thought of staying "at all costs alive".
We refuse to have any part, whether potential or actual. in the wholesale destruction of our fellow human beings and our world environment — surely the supreme offence against the Creator. If by our concerted effort the disaster is averted, it is immaterial that our lives also will thereby be spared.
Furthermore, should our defencelessness result in our being subject to an evil dictatorship, whether Fascist or Communist, it is questionable whether, as Christian activists, we would manage to stay alive — but we would at least die justified in the eyes of the Lord, Each one to his — or her own conscience — Vatican II allows us that, provided that it be an "informed" one. It is up to each of us to ensure that it is properly informed.
Clare Hourihane Bournemouth.
TWO HUNDRED and fifty people were taken to the new teaching hospital in Liverpool after the riot in Toxteth. The medical staff were hard pressed to cope and routine operations at the hospital had to be cancelled.
In the event of a nuclear attack the numbers injured will be counted in tens of thousands, how will the hospitals cope? The performance at Liverpool makes nonsense of the Government booklet Protect and Survive. Only the "important" people directed to the underground bunkers or the wealthy who can afford the £15,000 for a nuclear shelter stand a chance of survival or of receiving medical help.
It behaves the rest of us lesser mortals to ask searching questions from our MPs about our future in the event of nuclear war or throw' our weight behind the organisations like CND who spend a lot of time researching into the effects of nuclear warfare.
Mary Riley Liverpool.
ANNIVERSARIES of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are August 6 and 9. Many Pax Christi members, and others, throughout the country are preparing for a two-day sponsored fast. The purposes are to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombs. to call attention to the urgent need for nuclear disarmament, and to raise money for disarmament work, A number of us in Leeds will be concluding our fast on August 8 with a service at 6pm in St Anne's Cathedral, following a day of activities in the city centre. For details of events in your area, contact Pas Christi (Blackfriars Hall. Southampton Road, London NW5, 01-485 7977. Finally, pray often for peace and disarmament. Tim Devereux Leeds.