Ecumenical Leaders Back 'New Course' Toward Nuke Disarmament

Some of the world's top ecumenical church leaders are urging on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United States and Russia to continue the trend toward nuclear disarmament, stressing that "now" is the time to do so.

"It is our conviction that the present opportunity must be transformed into conclusive actions," expressed the heads of the World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Canadian Council of Churches.

In a letter dated Oct. 28, the ecumenical leaders acknowledged the steps NATO has taken to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons. They also welcomed the commitment of the new German government to have all nuclear weapons withdrawn from its soil.

"Every state has a part to play in breaking out of the self-fulfilling logic so often cited, that 'we will need nuclear weapons as long as others have them," stated the letter. "We appeal to all nuclear-weapon states and states with nuclear weapons on their soil to contribute to progress under the new political dynamic."

In encouraging the letter's recipients to "pursue this new course," the ecumenical leaders echoed past calls by their respective governing bodies, including the call for Russia to address its vast number of tactical nuclear weapons; the call for NATO to clearly endorse the new call for a nuclear-weapon-free world; and the call for the European Union to equally endorse the new call for a nuclear-weapon-free world in the EU Common Position for the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

They also said they believe the new striving to abolish nuclear weapons is a development that raises hope in the world.

Signers of the letter included WCC General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, CEC General Secretary the Venerable Colin Williams, NCC General Secretary the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, and CCC General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton.

Together, the four ecumenical groups represent nearly 200 churches in Europe and North America.

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