Yesterday Pope Francis in Japan denounced possession of nuclear weapons even for deterrence as “immoral.” He moved beyond the stance of previous popes, and the U.S. bishops in their pastoral letter on nukes in the 1980s, who grudgingly accepted nukes for deterrence as a step towards disarmament.
The Pope’s move on nukes resembles his action on capital punishment, which the church previously accepted in theory, but which it now rejects in total. His political theology seems to be an absolutization of idealism. Moral aspirations must now become policy without explanation of implantation or any recognition of consequences. Critics might say it’s one more example of immanentizing the eschaton, demanding the consummation of God’s Kingdom right now, even if Christ has not yet returned.