Kristin Shrader-Frechette

Though neither the Vatican nor the U.S. bishops have made a statement on nuclear power, the church has outlined the ethical case for renewable energy. In Centesimus Annus Pope John Paul II wrote that just as Pope Leo XIII in 1891 had to confront “primitive capitalism” in order to defend workers’ rights, he himself had to confront the “new capitalism” in order to defend collective goods like the environment. Pope Benedict XVI warned that pollutants “make the lives of the poor especially unbearable.” In their 2001 statement Global Climate Change, the U.S. Catholic bishops repeated his point: climate change will “disproportionately affect the poor, the vulnerable, and generations yet unborn.”

The bishops also warn that “misguided responses to climate change will likely place even greater burdens on already desperately poor peoples.” Instead they urge “energy conservation and the development of alternate renewable and clean-energy resources.” They argue that renewable energy promotes care for creation and the common good, lessens pollution that disproportionately harms the poor and vulnerable, avoids threats to future generations and reduces nuclear-proliferation risks.

Kristin Shrader-Frechette teaches biological sciences and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Her latest book,

Comments

John Weber | 7/6/2008 - 12:42pm
Thank you for the acticle as well as the first comment. MORALS, TRUTH, AND NUCLEAR POWER There are many good reasons not to build nuclear power plants: the economics don’t play out, the energy payback is too long, CO2 emissions are created in the mining, milling, and enriching of uranium, nuclear plants need lots of water for cooling, and they don’t work well in hot climates when sited on rivers or lakes. Here, however I shall focus solely on the moral issues in this writing. All quotations come directly from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”. “Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.” “You shall love your neighbor” This of course starts with your own family. “The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.” Uranium mines and radioactive waste disposal sites are usually in poor and minority areas. They don’t have the political clout to stop the hazards from coming to their communities. Yucca Mountain has been chosen to store nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants even though this isn’t the best place to store the waste. The Western Shoshone Indians have lived there for generations believe it is sacred ground. These too are our neighbors and deserve our love not our waste. “You shall not kill” “Human life is sacred” The processes involved in nuclear power generation are very much the same as nuclear bomb building. Enriching of uranium can be used for either nuclear power generation or nuclear bomb building. If reprocessing waste is done, it makes it much easier to separate out the plutonium that is used for bomb building. “You shall not steal” “Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.” By creating this non-natural radioactive waste we are stealing from all the future generations. For example, one by product is iodine-129 which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. That means we are stealing from thousands of generations the land, cost of storage, cost of security, and very possibly polluting their air, ground, and water. I am asking everyone to call, write, and e-mail your local, state, and federal elected officials as well as Church leaders. Please tell them you don’t want nuclear power plants and that any tax dollars go toward a solution to the waste we already have instead of new nuclear power plants. I also ask pro-life, health, social justice, and other church groups to come together in solidarity to get this message out. I thank you as will generations to come.
Christina Macpherson | 6/13/2008 - 7:57pm
I'm not sure that non-US people can comment here. So - brief is best As a Catholic, I am disappointed that the church has not come out clearly and strongly on this issue. Meanwhile Kristin Shrader-Frechette has spelt it out - loud and clear.and should be congratulated. I hope that Americans will listen to her sane, well-informed voice. And I hope that my country will stop its hypocrisy of flogging off uranium to the whole world, as fast as it can, before everybody wakes up to the truth about the nuclear industry Sincerely Christina Macpherson www.antinuclear.net