Catholic leaders call on UK Government to give up nuclear arsenal

HMS Vanguard is one of four Royal Navy submarines armed with the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system.LA(Phot) Stu Hill/MOD

Leaders in the Catholic Church have urged the UK Government to get rid of its nuclear weapons arsenal. 

They also want the Government to add its support to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons when it comes into force later this month.

The UK and other nations with nuclear weapons, among them Russia, the US, China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan have not signed the UN treaty, which comes into effect on January 22. 

The call came in a joint statement by the Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang, Bishop of Galloway, William Nolan, and the Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham William Kenney, who said that money spent on nuclear weapons should instead be invested in the "common good".

They called the treaty a "historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament" that offers "an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet".

The statement also calls on the Government to strengthen regulations around the control of arms, and the manufacture and sale of weapons that "destroy so many lives throughout the world".

"We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal," the bishops said.

"The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the common good of all peoples."