The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has described Britain’s nuclear weapons programme as “shameful”. Speaking at an ecumenical Easter Witness for Peace at the gates of the Faslane naval base which attended by representatives from churches from across Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said:
“I’ve been speaking of the teaching of the Catholic Church on nuclear weapons for many years now, telling our message to whoever is willing to listen, and I’m very pleased to repeat that teaching again today.
“Here at the gates of Faslane, there is no better place to say that it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction.
“It is shameful to have them. If our government wished to truly be courageous it would unilaterally give up its nuclear deterrent, giving the witness and impetus for other nations to do the same.”
Quoting the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal O’Brien said: “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”
Further criticising the UK, not just for its commitment to maintaining nuclear weapons but for its leading role as an exporter of arms, the Cardinal added:
“Weapons production, from the smallest handgun to rocket launchers, and fighter aircraft, is big business, a massive industry, and to our shame, Britain has a leading role … The poorest in the world pay the highest price for an arms trade that brings misery to them, and fortunes to the companies that develop and produce the weapons.”
SNP candidate for Stirling Bruce Crawford strongly supported the Archbishop’s stance. Mr Crawford, who as Parliamentary Business Minister led the SNP Government’s Working Group on Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons, said:
“These comments from Cardinal O’Brien are extremely welcome, and simply underline the madness of the UK Government’s decision to push ahead with the renewal of Trident. It is a scandal that the London-based parties all agree on spending countless billions on a new generation of weapons of mass destruction at a time when devastating cuts are being imposed on front-line services.
“Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are all complicit in this pro-nuclear pact which insists on wasting money on morally indefensible missiles. All the London parties need to ditch their pro-nuclear weapons obsession and commit themselves to a non-nuclear future, setting an example for other countries to follow, in line with Cardinal O’Brien’s appeal.
“Only the SNP is committed to a non-nuclear future, and a re-elected SNP Government will continue to pursue our vision of an independent, nuclear-free Scotland.”