Scottish Church Leaders Join Walk to Make Trident History

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Alan McDonald, and the Archbishop of Glasgow, Dr Mario Conti, will join marchers today taking part in the Long Walk for Peace from Faslane to the Scottish Parliament.

The campaign, which runs from 14 to 19 September, will call on the Scottish Parliament and MSPs to make Trident history, as the government is due to decide before the end of 2006 whether Britain should continue to have nuclear weapons and replace Trident nuclear submarines.

|QUOTE|The Moderator is expected to accompany the marchers at various points along their route, and will be spending the first day walking from Faslane to Cardross Road in Dumbarton.

Speaking about Trident, Alan McDonald, who has attended a number of demonstrations at Faslane over the years, said: "The statistics about Trident are chilling. There are four Trident nuclear submarines based at Faslane. Each submarine can carry 16 missiles. Each missile can be armed with up to 12 nuclear warheads with a range of 6,000 miles. One Trident submarine can carry the equivalent of 750 Hiroshima atom bombs.

"The potential for the indiscriminate destruction of countless men, women and children is almost beyond belief. The threat to the future of creation is beyond imagining.

"For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian today."

Archbishop Conti, meanwhile, will walk with the marchers to Helensburgh and deliver a short address at Helensburgh Pier at 12.30pm, before handing over a letter to be delivered to the Scottish Parliament. The text of the archbishop's speech and letter follows:

"I am grateful to the organisers of this event for allowing me to express publicly my solidarity with all those who will take part in this long march for peace. I know my colleague Cardinal O'Brien is looking forward to joining you during the final stretch leading to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

The Catholic Bishops of Scotland have taken a consistent and clear line on this issue. I was one of the drafters of the statement back in 1982 which said that if it was immoral to use nuclear weapons, it was surely also immoral to threaten their use.

That position has earlier this year been restated by the Bishops as their contribution to the debate called for by the Prime Minister over whether or not the UK should replace Trident with a new nuclear weapon system.

In expressing this view, we are echoing the constant calls of the Vatican over the years for progressive disarmament to take place. Indeed our recent statement has drawn praise from the head of the Church's Justice and Peace office in Rome.

Earlier this year Pope Benedict summed up the Catholic Church's position on this issue in his message for World Day of Peace. He said:

What can be said about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries? Along with countless persons of good will, one can state that this point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious.

In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms, or those planning to acquire them agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.

How can there ever be a future of peace when investments are still made in the production of arms and in research aimed at
developing new ones?

These sentiments are shared by all of us here today, and it is my hope that their logic will prevail at the highest levels when the time comes to decide on the future of the UK's nuclear defence policy."