The Bishops and Nuclear Weapons: The Catholic Pastoral Letter on War and Peace

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The Bishops and Nuclear Weapons: The Catholic Pastoral Letter on War and Peace

By James E. Dougherty
Archon Books, 1984
255 pp. $22.50
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This is an informed and thoughtful contribution to the Catholic debate over nuclear weapons, by an international relations scholar who teaches at a Catholic college. Dougherty is critical of the 1983 pastoral letter, arguing that it focuses too much on the dangers of nuclear war and the inadequacies of deterrence while giving insufficient attention to Soviet expansionism and the need for stable deterrence through a judicious mixture of military modernization and arms control. He is concerned by an increase in "Catholic nuclear pacifism," fearing that the pastoral letter could become a theological rationalization for neo-isolationism in the United States. The European bishops, he notes, take a more moderate view.