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Nuclear war protesters demonstrate outside the White House in Washington Aug. 9. Church officials called for dialogue to ease U.S.-North Korea tensions. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See US-KOREA-TOMASI and US-KOREA-DIPLOMACY Aug. 10, 2017.

US bishop warns of ‘catastrophic death’ that would come from war with North Korea

By Ryan McDougall

The chairman of a US Conference of Catholic Bishops committee has warned of the ‘high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction’ that would come from any war with North Korea.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, agreed with a recent call from the Korean bishops’ conference to support talks to secure the peaceful future of the Korean peninsula.

Bishop Cantu on August 10 agreed that the rising possibility of violence between the two nations cannot be ‘underestimated or ignored,’ but that the ‘high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue.’

Bishop Cantu’s letter details tit-for-tat threats between the two leaders. President Donald Trump has threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ in response to Kim Jong Un’s warnings of attacking the US. The North Korean leader has also said his country was preparing to fire missiles around Guam, a US territory with two military bases.

Tensions began to rise on August 5, when the UN introduced new economic sanctions that threatened to cut off a third of North Korea’s exports. This was backed by Russia and China, who are two of North Korea’s biggest trading partners.

Bishop Cantu also showed support from his committee with the political stance of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and his proposal for humanitarian and military talks with North Korea.

The bishop wrote: “In solidarity with the Catholic Church in Korea and the efforts of the South Korean government, we urge the United States to encourage and support these talks.

“This avenue, unlike most others, offers the Korean peninsula a future free from military conflicts or crises, which could simultaneously threaten entire nations and millions of lives in the region.”

Archbishop Silvano M Tomasi, a former Vatican representative to UN agencies in Geneva, said that ‘instead of building walls and creating dissidence or admitting the possibility of recourse to violence,’ both countries must have a constructive approach that benefits people.

Bishop Cantu’s letter also stated: “This crisis reminds us that nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction to not ensure security or peace. Instead, they exacerbate tensions and produce and arms races as countries acquire more weapons of mass destruction in an attempt to intimidate or threaten other nations.”

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