CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF INDIA
CBCI CENTRE, 1 ASHOKA PLACE, NEW DELHI INDIA
Fr George Pereira,
Deputy Secretary General

Phones (91-11) 3344470, 3344453 Fax: 3344615



CATHOLIC BISHOPS' OF INDIA CALL FOR URGENT AND
UNIVERSAL DISARMAMENT



Science must be used in the service of mankind at the Threshold of the
Third Millennium


New Delhi,
June the 11th, 1998


The Standing Committee (Governing Body) of the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of India, meeting at a time when the entire world and in
particular the people of Asia are discussing the eleven nuclear tests
conducted by India and Pakistan in May 1998, makes a fervent plea for
urgent and universal disarmament.

Now that the nuclear weapons race on the sub-continent of South Asia is
a reality, the most urgent need is to restore mutual confidence between
the countries of the region, specially between India and Pakistan, to
reopen channels of communication, and to defuse the atmosphere of
tension and confrontation. With the presence in our sub-continent
weapons of mass destruction and the fear that long range missiles may be
capped by nuclear weapons, the most urgent and pressing need is to
de-escalate the tension through diplomatic and political discussions in
an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect for life and for the
common historical and cultural heritage of the two nations and their
people.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference knows that peace is inseparable from
security. The people of India, the Catholic community, and the Bishops
extend their full support to all peace and disarmament initiatives with
their prayers.

The CBCI is firmly of the mind that the resources of India and all
countries of the sub-continent must be dedicated singularly to the
welfare of the people of the region. Resources needed for combating
poverty for waging war on hunger and disease, and for empowering the
people through education, shelter and a respect for their human rights,
should not, and must not, be diverted in a race involving hostility,
war and destruction.

The CBCI calls for universal disarmament through democratic
international negotiations. A special responsibility in this regard
rests on those nations which have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

The stand of the Catholic church has been consistent on this issue from
the very beginning of the nuclear era. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul
II said in his speech to the diplomatic corps on January 13, 1996 "...
in the sphere of nuclear weapons, the banning of tests and of the
further development of these weapons, disarmament and non proliferation,
are closely linked and must be achieved as quickly as possible under
effective international controls. There are the stages towards a
general and complete disarmament which the international community as a
whole should reach without delay."

The CBCI in April 1982 noted that "In a nuclear age there is no
alternative to world disarmament." Disarmament is the only realistic
form of national defence. It was Mahatma Gandhi's conviction that "the
world is sick unto death of blood spilling and looks for a way out".
War is our common enemy and all that can be done must be done against it
and its root cause - the demonic evil of hatred, fear, selfishness,
greed and lust. "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and
their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword
against another nor shall they train for war again". (Is.2/4)

Nuclear energy is one of the momentous discoveries of our times. It has
been always our conviction that nuclear energy must be used only in the
service of people's development and peace, that nuclear research and
technology must have the single objective of fighting disease and
improving the quality of life. The poverty and underdevelopment in the
Indian subcontinent makes it particularly imperative that the region's
scientific and other resources and energies are focussed sharply on
ameliorating the lot of the people.

The CBCI reaffirms its commitment to peace and calls on all governments
to strengthen the ambience of non-violence and security, so that our
people can achieve their potential in a lasting and abiding peace,
without fear and without the shadow of a nuclear threat.