(Source: CD/Vatican News)

In a joint statement, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the European Bishop’s Conference (COMECE) have offered prayers and called for peaceful dialogue ahead of a US–Russia nuclear arms control meeting scheduled for 22 June.

In their message, the US and European prelates invite all Catholics and people of faith to pray for “a fruitful dialog that will advance necessary arms control and disarmament” and promote “a more peaceful and just world”.

The Bishops made the appeal June 19 ahead of a meeting of senior officials from the United States and Russia in Vienna, Austria next Monday aimed at discussing nuclear weapons control and the fate of the New START Treaty.

The statement is signed by the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference’s Committee on Justice and Peace, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, and the president of the European Bishops’ Conference’s Commission on the External Relations of the European Union, Bishop Rimantas Norvila of Vilkaviškis, Lithuania.

The Bishops’ appeal

In the statement, the Bishops write that “if the New START Treaty is allowed to expire in February 2021, the United States and Russia will have no legally binding, verifiable limits on their strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972″.

This may, they write, “also have significant implications for European security and global peace”. 

Citing another joint statement of US and European Bishops from 2017, the bishops state that the horror of nuclear war has been forgotten by many since the end of the Cold War.

But, they add, “recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger”.

They characterised the situation surrounding the upcoming meeting as an “increasingly multipolar and complex environment”.

Their prayer is that the meeting may “be marked by wisdom, trust-building and cooperation in making arms control and nuclear disarmament a high priority”.

Concluding the statement, the bishops reiterated Pope Francis’s words during his visit to Japan on 24 November 2019.

On that occasion, the Pope expressed his desire that “prayer, tireless work in support of agreements and insistence on dialogue be the most powerful ‘weapons’”.

These will contribute to “build a world of justice and solidarity that can offer an authentic assurance of peace”, the pontiff said.

New START Treaty

The New START Treaty, according to the US Department of State website, is the “Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms”. 

The Treaty entered into force on 5 February 2011.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.