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Gumbleton: push just peace, not just war.

DAYTON, Ohio -- Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Americans seem less frightened by the proliferation of nuclear weapons than they were in the early 1980s, said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit.

"But the threat of nuclear holocaust is not something of the past. In some ways our world is in more danger now than it was even in 1983," he said, calling for revision of the 1983 U.S. bishops' pastoral letter on peace, which he helped to draft.

Gumbleton spoke July 6 at the University of Dayton on "The Challenge of Peace: 10 Years Later." His talk, which drew nearly 300 people, was part of the summer lecture series, "Human Rights: The World and the Church," sponsored by the university's religious studies department.

An ad hoc committee of U.S. bishops is drafting a statement to mark the 10th anniversary of the peace pastoral. It is expected to come before the full body of bishops for approval in November.

Gumbleton noted that even if the arms reduction governed by the START II treaty were fully implemented in the next 10 years, "we will still have a world with as many nuclear weapons as we had at the height of the Cold War." Since there are no plans today to move beyond the arms limitations of START II, the strategy of nuclear deterrence "must be condemned as immoral," said Gumbleton.

The bishops in their pastoral bad approved nuclear deterrence only as "a step on the way toward progressive (nuclear) disarmament." He also said that "the church must come forward to teach very plainly that it is no longer possible to accept such a theology as just war."

He called for revision of the pastoral letter's outline of conditions that may justify war, noting that the conditions of proportionality and discrimination cannot be met.

The just-war theory states that war can be justified if certain conditions are met simultaneously. Those conditions include that the damage must be in proportion to the good achieved and that the warring parties must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, with no civilian populations targeted.

"War is no longer a war between armies. It is a war against peoples," Gumbleton said, noting that the Persian Gulf War killed thousands of civilians in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. And the recent small-scale attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters showed that "there's no such thing as a clean military strike."

To resolve international conflicts, governments must find means other than war, said Gumbleton. "We're not anywhere near to resolving the underlying problems that caused Iraq to invade Kuwait," he said. He also noted that true peace cannot be achieved without changing the unjust international economic order.

"We keep getting richer and richer and consume more and more while the poor starve. This is violence," Gumbleton said. "We live like Dives, the rich person in the Gospel, with Lazarus at the gate, and we never even perceive that as sin. We have organized our international economic order in such a way that the poor are being killed," said Gumbleton, noting that "from 1982 to 1990, $400 billion of net wealth moved from poor nations to rich nations."

"We choose our leaders. We choose those who help organize the international economic order said Gumbleton. Mentioning the Group of 7 meeting in Tokyo, he said that "the leaders of the rich industrialized nations meet so that they can continue to keep our international economic order working in such a way that it brings wealth to us."

Gumbleton encouraged people to petition national leaders on matters of justice and peace, working in groups when possible, and to change their own consumption habits. Quoting Pope John Paul II, Gumbleton said, "If you want peace, reach out to the poor. That's the only way to peace today."
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Title Annotation:Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit, Michigan speaks on nuclear weapons
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Jul 30, 1993
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