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Bishop of Chelmsford calls for a global ban on nuclear weapons to deliver security worldwide

29th Jun 2018

Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, will move a motion for debate at the national assembly of the Church of England next month calling on the Church to work towards global peace and security through nations ridding the planet of nuclear weapons.

General Synod members will be invited to welcome last year’s United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “and the clear signal it sends... that nuclear weapons are both dangerous and unnecessary”, and to urge the British Government, which has not signed it, to reaffirm its commitment to non-proliferation.

Bishop Stephen has said:

This is the first time the ethics of nuclear weapons have been debated at General Synod in more than 10 years. The Church been silent for too long but it will soon have an opportunity for an informed debate. I am looking forward to taking part.”

More information

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell is the Bishop of Chelmsford. The Diocese of Chelmsford is Church of England in Essex and East London.

General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. The General Synod debate will be held on Sunday 8 July 2018 at York.

The General Synod agenda item on the Ethics of Nuclear Weapons states:

“The Bishop of Chelmsford to move: 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.”

A briefing by the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England is available online.

Earlier this year Bishop Stephen wrote that the CofE was “silent and out of step with other faith groups around the world” on this issue and the Church ought to join the international campaign for disarmament.

In a speech in the House of Lords the Bishop said that the myth of nuclear deterrence was a moral failure and he urged the government to be part of the UN High Level Talks on Nuclear Disarmament.

Image: Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford.