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SANTA FE – Archbishop John C. Wester called for “universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament” in a pastoral letter delivered Tuesday during an online news conference.
The missive is an official letter from Wester to the clergy and members of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Wester noted that the archdiocese “has a special role to play in advocating for nuclear disarmament” given the presence of the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico.
Wester visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2017.
“It was a somber, sobering experience as I realized that on August 6, 1945, humanity crossed the line into the darkness of the nuclear age,” Wester wrote.
The letter, titled “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace,” notes that speaking against nuclear weapons has long been a priority of the Catholic Church.
“The Vatican was the first nation state to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
While arguing against the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons, Wester wrote “we need to encourage life-affirming jobs for New Mexicans in cleanup, nonproliferation programs, and addressing climate change.”
Answering a question about the economic impact and support of the labs for the state, Wester said, “there are many ways to convert what the laboratories are doing today to peaceful means.” Converting current jobs “is doable, is possible” and “there are ways of replacing those jobs with these peaceful, life affirming means,” he said.
In January five nuclear weapons nations released a joint statement saying they “consider the avoidance of war between nuclear weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.”
Wester said he had seen the statement and was encouraged by it. “That’s precisely what we need for our leaders to be talking about this very thing. That’s so important and so critical at that level.”