Peace and War

Landmines and Catholic Social Teaching

Landmines are "inhumanly insidious because they continue to cause harm even long after the cessation of hostilities."* The U.S. bishops have long supported elimination of landmines as they are indiscriminate, morally unacceptable weapons that do not distinguish between soldier and civilian, or between times of war and times of peace. In a November 30, 2009 message, Pope Benedict XVI asked all states "to recognize the deplorable humanitarian consequences of anti-personnel mines." He called on the international community to keep on funding mine clearance and assisting victims. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chair, USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace, signed joint letters to President Obama calling for a comprehensive review of U.S. policy on landmines and for the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty.

Summary: Years after landmines have been laid, they continue to kill and maim innocent civilians. Urge President Obama and your Senators to support a comprehensive review of landmine policy, so the U.S. joins the Mine Ban Treaty.

Background: A landmine is a weapon designed to explode when it comes into contact with a person. From 1969 to 1992, the U.S. exported over 4 million landmines to countries like Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Somalia and Vietnam. While many of these conflicts have long ended, landmines still remain in more than 70 nations and kill or maim thousands each year, the vast majority of them civilians. Over a quarter of the victims of landmines are children under 15 years.

Click here for a two-page resource from Education for Justice that looks at the continuing problems with landmines in many countries, which injure many innocent civilians each year.

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Nuclear Arms Reduction

Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on April 8, 2010. The signing of START will generate public debate and offers an opportunity to study and act on Christian values teaching related to nuclear weapons.

START reduces deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, 30 percent below the existing ceiling; limits the United States and Russia to no more than 700 delivery vehicles; and includes new verification requirements. The Treaty needs ratification by the U.S. Senate. USCCB supports strong, bipartisan action to ratify START.

The Office of International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has compiled excellent resources for parishes and churches that want to engage the issue of nuclear arms reduction.

  • A Letter of support from Cardinal George to President Obama urging senators to come together across party lines to ratify START. Also available in Spanish.
  • An Action Alert to urge senators to ratify START to verifiably reduce nuclear weapons.
  • A Study Guide for use with the DVD, Nuclear Tipping Point. The DVD is available free of charge. The small group study can be completed in two one-hour sessions.
  • Background on Nuclear Arms Treaties that explores the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Catholic Church's activities and teaching related to nuclear weapons. Also available in Spanish.

Other Resources

Additional Resources

Lebanon/Israel conflict:  Archbishop Flynn Urges Cease-Fire in the Holy Land - Military Draft:  Draft Counseling Guidelines from the Catholic Peace Fellowship - Pax Christi USA

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