December 7th, 2010
04:51 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
Two key religious organizations in the United States called on Congress Tuesday to ratify the new nuclear arms reduction treaty signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for ratification of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) in September, but a vote from the full Senate has not materialized.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals want to see the treaty ratified.
"In the long and tragic history of human warfare, the nuclear weapon occupies a singular position due to the scope and scale of its terrible and indiscriminate power to destroy human life," said Leith Anderson, president of the evangelical organization, during a conference call with reporters. "Evangelicals strongly believe in the sanctity of life."
"Strong and timely ratification of the new treaty will communicate our nation's moral commitment to continue down a road that reduces the nuclear threat," Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, said. "It will encourage other nations to adhere to their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"The new treaty will make our nation and world safer by reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way. For the safety of our nation and world, we urge the Senate to take up the New START treaty without delay."
Hubbard added that both the past president of the organization, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, and the current president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, agree.
"Nuclear war is rejected in Church teaching because nuclear weapons cannot ensure noncombatant immunity and their awesome destructive power and lingering radiation cannot be meaningfully proportionate," he said, citing Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 World Day of Peace message, in which the pope said, "In a nuclear war, there would be no victors, only victims."
The START treaty would resume mutual inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, while limiting both nations to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers each.
The bishops and the evangelicals join a growing list urging action on the treaty. Five big guns of Republican foreign policy - former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger and Colin Powell - urged their fellow Republicans, in a Washington Post editorial, to support the treaty which they say is "is clearly in our national interest."
The treaty needs 67 Senate votes for ratification, and Democrats and a handful of Republicans have been cautiously optimistic that the votes are there. But conservative Republicans have stalled, asking for more time and information before they commit to a vote.
"New START is a deeply flawed treaty that would have far reaching consequences for America's national security," Sen. Jim Thune, R-South Dakota, said last week. "Pushing this through the Senate during a lame-duck session with the hopes of using the Christmas holiday as a backstop is irresponsible. This treaty should not be jammed through because the president wants an accomplishment before the end of the year when nothing is lost by waiting until next month when the new Congress convenes."
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