A letter appears in the Independent newspaper this morning. You can read it here, but the format makes it difficult. The text is therefore reproduced below. The newspaper does not list all the signatories, so they are listed in full below.
Sir: We write to add our voice to the public debate on the issue of the maintenance and renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme demanded by the House of Commons Defence Committee. We urge MPs seriously to consider our views when they come to a formal debate in the House and take part in any subsequent vote.
Whatever our various views on conventional warfare, we all agree that Just War arguments rule out the use of nuclear weapons and such weapons challenge the very core of Judeo-Christian Faith where humanity is given responsibility for the stewardship of God’s creation. But there are also practical, moral and economic objections to the basic concept of having a deterrent.
Practical because a deterrent is only effective if a potential enemy knows for certain it will be used. But the use of nuclear weapons would not be an option for us, as that would be nothing less than the mass murder of thousands if not tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The resultant fall-out from a tactical or battlefield weapon could not be confined to a particular area.
Moral because it is morally corrupting to threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction even when there is no real intention of using them.
Economic because the use of limited resources on WMDs diverts those resources from education, health and aid to those who are the poorest and most in need.
Humanity has the power to make or mar this planet. Current concern over global warming and the environment, as well as poverty and debt among the world’s most vulnerable people, demonstrate the need to re-engage with the task of caring for the world and its people.
Human dignity and freedom are foundation values for all people. Humanity has a right to live in dignity and freedom without fear. Trident and other nuclear arsenals threaten long-term and fatal damage to the global environment and its peoples. As such their end is evil and both possession and use profoundly anti-God acts.
Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual. The Christian Gospel is one of hope, enabling humanity to live in harmony with itself and nature and leading to prosperity and community life marked by joy.
At the Gleneagles summit a year ago the G8 pledged to “Make Poverty History” and to end the debt burden on the world’s poorest countries. The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all, and would go a long way towards helping Make Poverty History.
RT REVD PETER PRICE, BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS;
RT REVD COLIN BENNETTS, BISHOP OF COVENTRY
RT REVD MICHAEL HILL, BISHOP OF BRISTOL
RT REVD RICHARD LEWIS, BISHOP OF EDMUNSBURY AND IPSWICH
RT REVD JOHN SAXBEE, BISHOP OF LINCOLN
RT REVD TIMOTHY STEVENS, BISHOP OF LEICESTER
RT REVD JACK NICHOLLS, BISHOP OF SHEFFIELD
RT REV DR DAVID JAMES, BISHOP OF BRADFORD
AND 12 SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS
The suffragans are:
Stephen Lowe, Hulme
Stephen Cottrell, Reading
David Hawkins, Barking
Peter Broadbent, Willesden
James Langstaff, Lynn
David Rossdale, Grimsby
Ian Brackley, Dorking
James Bell, Knaresborough
Michael Lewis, Middleton
Graham Cray, Maidstone
Nicholas Baines, Croydon
Richard Inwood, Bedford