Representatives of various groups advocating nuclear arms reduction, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), presented a petition with over 50,000 signatures to the White House. The petition urges President Obama to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons as he makes a once-in-a-decade decision on the Presidential nuclear weapons policy “guidance.”


The White House received the petition at a May 7 meeting with Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting. Stephen Colecchi, USCCB’s director of International Justice and Peace, represented the U.S. bishops. Leaders of arms control groups, including the Arms Control Association, the Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Security Network, also participated in the meeting.


“In the 21st Century, nuclear weapons are a global liability, not an asset,” the petition said, calling on the President to “end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles, and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.”


In a March 2 letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, reiterated the position of Catholic teaching, the Vatican and the U.S. bishops: “For decades they have promoted the twin and interrelated policy goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. USCCB understands this is an ideal that will take years to reach, but it is a task which our nation must take up with renewed energy.”

The full text of the bishop’s letter is available online: