Receiving Pope Francis's Condemnation of Nuclear Weapons

Drew Christiansen and Carole Sargent, Editors

"A unique contribution to unravelling the ethical and pastoral implications of a commitment to nuclear zero."
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Moral theologians, defense analysts, conflict scholars, and nuclear experts imagine a world free from nuclear weapons

At a 2017 Vatican conference, Pope Francis condemned nuclear weapons. This volume, issued after the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, presents essays from moral theologians, defense analysts, conflict transformation scholars, and nuclear arms control experts, with testimonies from witnesses. It is a companion volume to A World Free from Nuclear Weapons: The Vatican Conference on Disarmament (Georgetown University Press, 2020).

Chapters from the perspectives of missile personnel and the military chain of command, industrialists and legislators, and citizen activists show how we might achieve a nuclear-free world. Key to this transition is the important role of public education and the mobilization of lay movements to raise awareness and effect change. This essential collection prepares military professionals, policymakers, everyday citizens, and the pastoral workers who guide them, to make decisions that will lead us to disarmament.

Table of Contents


Drew Christiansen, SJ

Part I: How We Got Here

1. From Deterrence to Abolition: The Evolution of Roman Catholic Nuclear Ethics
William Werpehowski

2. Just-War Lessons We Should Remember
Tobias Winright

3. Philosophical Debate on Nuclear Deterrence
Gregory M. Reichberg

4. The Moral Ecology of Deterrence and Abolition
William Barbieri

Part II: Witnesses

5. Nuclear Realists
David Cortright

6. The Testimony of Witnesses
Daniel Hall

7. Swords into Plowshares
Carole Sargent

Part III: Toward a World without Nuclear Weapons

8. National Attitudes toward Nuclear Deterrence
James E. Goodby

9. 6 + 6 = 9: Law and Nuclear Weapons
David A. Koplow

10. Abolition in the Context of General Disarmament
Pierce S. Corden

11. New Models: Building Capacities for Nuclear Cooperation
Richard A. Love

12. Nuclear Abolition and Global Human Needs
Lawrence J. Korb

Part IV: Evolution of Just War

13. Nuclear Disarmament: Ethical Challenges at or Near Zero
Gerard F. Powers

14. Just Peace and Nuclear Disarmament
Maryann Cusimano Love

15. Peacebuilding and Nuclear Deterrence
Daniel Philpott

16. Prophetic Indictment or Deliberative Discussion?
Bernard G. Prusak

Part V: Conscience Formation

17. Formation of Conscience Regarding the Development, Possession, and Use of Nuclear Weapons
Margaret R. Pfeil

18. Catholic Conscience and Nuclear Weapons
Joseph J. Fahey

19. The Conundrum of Deterrence: A Practical Christian Response
Lisa Sowle Cahill

20. Pastoral Accompaniment: Pope Francis’s Approach to the Human Vocation
Drew Christiansen, SJ

Part VI: Moral Education

21. Reviving Disarmament Education
Kelsey Davenport

22. The Nuclear History Boot Camp
David Holloway

23. Propaganda for Peace: Memes, Mass Moralizing, and the Great Game for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons
Theodore G. Dedon

24. A World without Nuclear Weapons: Imagine It One Step at a Time
John Paul Lederach

Part VII: Responsible Actors

25. The Ethics of Nuclear Stewards
Maryann Cusimano Love

26. In the Chain of Command
Drew Christiansen, SJ

27. Responsible Actors
Susi Snyder

28. The Condemnation of the Possession, Threat of Use, and Use of Nuclear Weapons: Reflections for Catholic Scientists and Technologists
Pierce S. Corden

29. Morality Matters: A Parliamentarian Reflects on Nuclear Disarmament
David Lammy

30. The Ethics of Manufacturing Nuclear Weapons
Ramón Luzárraga

31. The Responsibilities of “Enabled” Citizens for Integral Disarmament and Sustainable Human Development
James P. O’Sullivan

VIII. The Role of Lay Catholic Movements

32. Organizing the Church for a World without Nuclear Weapons
Kevin Ahern


About the Contributors


"A unique contribution to unravelling the ethical and pastoral implications of a commitment to nuclear zero."—Marie Dennis, senior advisor to the Secretary, General of Pax Christi

"Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Drew Christiansen, SJ and Carole Sargent, and of particular interest and relevance to moral theologians, defense analysts, conflict scholars, and nuclear experts imagining a world free from nuclear weapons, Forbidden: Receiving Pope Francis's Condemnation of Nuclear Weapons is a core and unreservedly recommended addition to professional, governmental, community, college, and university library Nuclear Arms Control and Religious Ethics collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists."—Midwest Book Review

"Christiansen and Sargent have provided an indispensable source on the moral and practical issues related to nuclear weapons and to Pope Francis's condemnation of them, and anyone interested in these issues would profit from reading the book in full."—The Journal of Social Encounters

"Forbidden, emphatically, is a book to borrow or buy."—Church Times

"In this impressive edited volume, Drew Christiansen and Carole Sargent assemble thirty-two chapters in seven parts that react, interpret, and discern possible responses to Pope Francis's 2017 pronouncement that "firmly condemned" the possession of nuclear weapons."—Journal of Moral Theology


Kevin Ahern, William Barbieri, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Pierce S. Corden, David Cortright, Kelsey Davenport, Theodore G. Dedon, Joseph J. Fahey, James E. Goodby, Daniel Hall, David Holloway, David A. Koplow, Lawrence J. Korb, David Lammy, John Paul Lederach, Maryann Cusimano Love, Richard A. Love, Ramón Luzárraga, James P. O’Sullivan, Margaret R. Pfeil, Daniel Philpott, Gerard F. Powers, Bernard G. Prusak, Gregory M. Reichberg, Susi Snyder, William Werpehowski, Tobias Winright

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Drew Christiansen, SJ, PhD, was Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Ethics and World Affairs, Georgetown University. He was lead editor of the award-winning companion to this book, coauthor of Forgiveness in International Politics: An Alternative Road to Peace (USCCB), and former editor-in-chief of America: The Jesuit Review. He was on the Holy See delegation to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Carole Sargent, PhD, is author of an antinuclear activist biography, Transform Now Plowshares (Liturgical Press 2022), and coeditor with Drew Christiansen of this book’s companion volume. She is founding director of the Office of Scholarly Publications at Georgetown University.

352 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-64712-289-8
Feb 2023

352 pp., 6 x 9

Feb 2023

352 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-64712-290-4
Feb 2023

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