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A Thanksgiving Service for Nuclear Deterrence??

Categories: BLOG | Published: 03/05/2019 | Views: 245

This week in our blog Brian Quail reflects on the service of thanksgiving for nuclear weapons at Westminster Abbey on 3rd May 2019.

On May 3rd at Westminster Abbey there will be a service commemorating 50 years of CASD – Continuous At-Sea Deterrence. The great and the good will thank God that for half a century in His loving kindness he has granted us the ability to slaughter millions of His children, our brothers and sisters, at a moment’s notice - that He has given us the power to enact instant global extinction; to undo his work of Genesis.

But whatever prayers are said in Westminster Abbey, a landmark statement made on Nov. 10, 2018 will hang over the service. In that statement, Pope Francis categorically condemned not only the use but also the very possession of nuclear weapons.

The Pope’s statement rejects the compromising distinction between mere possession and actual use, destroying the moral basis for the UK government’s nuclear policies, and those of the official opposition. Possession means to have these weapons ready for use, devastating all moral limits.

It is a blessed relief to hear that Pope Francis vindicates the position the peace movement has always taken. It is for this that we should be thanking God.

Pope Francis told participants in a high-profile Vatican conference on nuclear disarmament, including the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, NATO’s deputy secretary general, and eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates:

 “…humanity cannot fail to be genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices”.

He concluded: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”

But now, in my opinion, on May 3rd at Westminster Abbey a pantomime will be performed in the name of Jesus, who said we should love our enemies, do good to those that hate us, and pray for those who persecute us. His revolutionary nonviolence will once again be buried in a shroud of platitudes and religiosity.

Despite our scientific advances, the truth is that our position is really primitive. We are right back where we started. “I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both you and your children may live” (Deut. 30 19).

But we have chosen death.

According to peace activist Bruce Kent, these words were spoken at the launch of Resolution, the first Polaris submarine:

“Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render no man evil for evil…love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Beat that! Reality has replaced satire, and the laughter has died.

Deterrence is – in the lovely Americanism of the US Pax Christi statement – “a sin situation”. We should be begging God’s forgiveness for this ongoing sin, not celebrating it in Westminster Abbey.

We can only thank God that we have survived long enough to repent of our nuclear idolatry.

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