Bishop Stephen’s motion on nuclear disarmament carried by General Synod

Posted: 09 July 2018

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, has moved a motion on the ethics of nuclear weapons which has been carried the General Synod of the Church of England.

Bishop Stephen said that there were “no circumstances” in which modern-day Trident missiles could be used, given the levels of destruction that these weapons threatened.

“Therefore, the argument that they have worked as a deterrent is no argument at all. They exist. They could be used. We are prepared to use them. Others want to procure them. Our holding them only makes them seem more attractive to other nation states, often those with the most vicious and repellent governments.”

The motion was carried by 260 votes to 26. It read: 

That this Synod, mindful that a faithful commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice must commit the Church afresh to peace building; and conscious that nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination across the world:

(a) welcome the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the clear signal it sends by a majority of UN Member States that nuclear weapons are both dangerous and unnecessary;

(b) call on Her Majesty’s Government to respond positively to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by reiterating publicly its obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its strategy for meeting them; and

(c) commit the Church of England to work with its Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners in addressing the regional and international security concerns which drive nations to possess and seek nuclear weapons and to work towards achieving a genuine peace through their elimination.

Bishop Stephen’s Address and the Debate on the Ethics of Nuclear Weapons, on 8 July 2018 at York, are reported in Church Times.

Read the Bishop’s Address.

Image: Bishop Stephen Cottrell addressing General Synod (Mark Woodward and Daniel Easton).


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