“It is impossible to make a moral case for continued nuclear weapon testing”, the Holy See has pleaded at the United Nations.

– “There should never be another nuclear test explosion”

“There should never be another nuclear test explosion”, ad interim chargé d’affaires at the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the UN in New York, Monsignor Fredrik Hansen, declared in a statement at a high-level meeting Wednesday to mark the International Day Against Nuclear Tests Saturday August 29.

Recalling that 75 years have passed since the first nuclear weapon test – “rather inappropriately named ‘Trinity'” – was carried out in the New Mexican desert, Hansen deplored not only that 2,000 atomic weapons have been discharged to date, but that seven have been exploded even into the 21st century, with the consequent damage to life and the environment.

“It is to be hoped that the nuclear test which took place three years ago was the last ever to be conducted”, the Vatican official emphasised.

– “Further testing can only diminish global security”

During his November 2019 visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pope Francis insisted that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral”.

The pontiff also taught that the world must “reject heightening a climate of fear, mistrust and hostility fomented by nuclear doctrines… Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation”.

Building on that magisterium of Pope Francis’, Holy See official Hansen said that States must back the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) adopted by the UN in 1996 and address the “lamentable” fact that that Treaty has not yet entered into force.

Eight countries – China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States – are presently withholding the ratifications necessary for the CTBT to go into effect.

While Hansen acknowledged that “all States have an important role to play in achieving these ratifications”, he also pointed to those eight hold-out nations directly, insisting that they “must be persuaded that national and international security will only be strengthened” by their formal approval of the CTBT.

Affirming that the CTBT “is a critically important step towards creating a world without nuclear weapons”, Hansen called on the eight non-ratifying countries to “strongly back up its words in favor of peace by being the first to sign” the Treaty.

“Further nuclear testing, which would add to current nuclear weapon capabilities, can only diminish global security” and thus world-wide peace and stability, the prelate stressed.

– COVID-19 “highlights the incongruity of pouring valuable resources into weapons of destruction while so many are struggling to survive”

Monsignor Hansen closed his speech August 26 with an acknowledgment of the sufferings of the victims of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and with an invitation to UN member countries to “together achieve not merely a permanent, binding obligation never again to test nuclear weapons, but the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

The Holy See official added that a world without atomic weapons is an objective “made all the more urgent in the context of a global pandemic, which further highlights the incongruity of pouring valuable resources into the maintenance of weapons of destruction while so many on this planet are struggling to survive”.

“The entry into force of the CTBT, and until then the continuation of the existing moratoria on nuclear tests, are important contributions to making that objective a reality in the shortest possible time”, Hansen urged.

He concluded with an echo of Pope Francis’ 2019 warning in Japan that “future generations may rise to condemn our failure if we speak of peace but do nothing to bring it about among the peoples of the earth”.

More on Novena on Church calls to ban nuclear weapons testing:

9/8: Angelus: Pope pleads for world “completely free of nuclear weapons”

Interfaith groups clamour on Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversary: “There is no place for nuclear weapons in our shared future”

Pope cries on Hiroshima anniversary: “Never has it been clearer that, for peace to flourish, it is necessary to put down the weapons of war”

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Vatican is providing moral guidance on nuclear disarmament


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.