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‘If not now, then when?’ Archdiocese of Santa Fe pushes for nuclear disarmament in New Mexico

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Archbishop of Santa Fe released a new pastoral letter Tuesday, Jan 11, calling for New Mexico’s scientific laboratories and the U.S. government to disarm nuclear weapons and funding for similar projects.

Santa Fe’s Archbishop John C. Wester is the author of the 52-page letter suggesting practical ways New Mexico can tear down our infrastructure surrounding investments and maintenance of nuclear weapons in the state.

One of those suggestions calls on nearby Los Alamos and Sandia Laboratories, along with Kirtland Air Force Base –– which has one of the largest nuclear repositories in the nation –– to change the focus of their jobs to peaceful goals, rather than centering them on weapons research. Those facilities have annual economic impacts of billions of dollars in New Mexico and employ tens of thousands of people.

But Wester said the nuclear threat is more imminent now because of current rising global tensions.

“We cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to the conversation needed to rid our world of the means of global annihilation,” Wester said. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

This letter comes on the heels of hundreds of scientists urging President Joe Biden to cut the U.S. nuclear arsenal by a third and the recent delay of the United Nations Non-Proliferation Conference aimed at signing a Cold War-era nuclear treaty.

Bryce Dix is our local host for NPR's Morning Edition.