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Catholic Bishops on Trident - Initial Ramblings

I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 (I'm dead cultured, me) whilst driving to Sainsbury's for the light bulbs (see earlier post) when he had two guest speakers on the RC bishops views on the Trident debate.  It was an interesting and unusually repsectful debtate between a spokesman for the Catholic bishops and a Revd Dr ethicist from Lancaster - alas I do not recall either of their names.  Essentially the RC bishops seem to be advocating a unilateralist position whilst the other expert felt that, while he was not in favour of Trident, this was unwise and actually destabilising.

Despite my experiences in the defence industry, and my views on nuclear power, I tend to lean towards the views apparently expressed by the RC bishops, albeit recognising that the issue is never as simple as any radio broadcast makes it out to be (and when I hear brodcasts on topics I know about, it makes me realise how much hogwash I swallow on other subjects).

It is good, I think, that people of faith are able to engage in this debate from differing perspectives, since this makes us less likely to end up with an ill-informed or, worse, blatantly wrong, view of a complex issue.  While the unilateralists assert that theirs is the way of peace, they have to concede that some of their freedom to do so arises from the actions of others who think otherwise.  While the ethicist is right in pointing out the complexity of the issue and that all-or-nothing attitiudes are overly simplistic, he, too needs to concede the possibility of a radical, prophetic stance.

For me, a replacement for trident seems a sad move - one would hope that we could as a race finally grow up and not feel the need to say 'mine is bigger than yours.'  At the same time, I know that the jobs of friends of mine - some Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other faiths - will be jeopardised if the decision is not to replace it.  The real crunch is, as always, when we move from theorising to practice - would we really put £75B (or whatever it is) to good use, whilst undertaking to re-train and re-employ all those whose work is lost? Or would it just disappear?

I guess we can only pray, listen to people of good conscience with whom we can disagree with dignity and seek to live with integrity- whatever our views.


  • I'm a bit confused after reading your post on Trident. You seem to pose the debate as "jobs for workers who would renew the nuclear deterrant" vs "not renewing Trident" ... surely, the debate isn't even about the £70bn in costs ... it should be whether it's moral to have nuclear weapons at all.

    When you use a nuclear weapon, it doesn't discriminate between military and civilian targets. It's disfiguring for Britain to have the capability of destroying millions of people with the touch of a button. It also doesn't lend us moral credibility when we ask other countries (North Korea) to not go nuclear.

  • Hi Scott, thank you for your comment, sorry I don't meant be confusing but perhaps it comes naturally?

    I don't mean the dichotomy you suggest, but see how you can feel I do. Your comments on lack of discrimination are true - and also apply to other types of weapon, but let's not go there just now, since the scale is different. I also agree wholeheartedly about the blatant dishonesty in asserting it's OK for us but not for 'them' whoever 'they might be, and this is far wider than over weapons.

    As I said in the post , I tend towards the views of the bishops but cannot simply dismiss the, albeit different, in many ways lesser, human cost to people, I know who, for whatever reason, are employed industries that serve so-called defence companies. These are not all highly paid boffins, and I think we do have a moral repsonsbiltiy to think of the consequences for them too.

    I'm not naive enough to set these two as the opposite sides of the debate, indeed I'm not sure there are only 'two' sides; all I was trying to say is that it can be incredibly complex to develop a Christian response to complex issues.

    In terms of the money spent, what I was trying to say - but did not say clearly - is that just beause it doesn't get spent on Trident sadly does not mean it'll get spent on welfare / health / education / global warming or any of an almost endless list of other peaceful / life-giving causes.

    There are Christisns who beleive that replacing Trident is right, good and Godly. Despite a (long) past life in defence industries I don't.

    Thank you again for your comment which has prompted me to try to clarify my views. You may still be confused, and I may be wrong, but I think the debate is healthy.

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