Some Questions for the “Anti-nuke” Archbishop of Cashel
11 November, 2009
I see in an article in today’s Irish Times that, according to the Archbishop of Cashel Most Rev Dermot Clifford, Ireland’s Catholic bishops are “totally opposed” to the redevelopment of the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria, west England,
… and would also oppose any plans to build a nuclear reactor in Ireland. He was speaking in the context of this week’s announcement by the British government that it had identified 10 sites for the next generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, including at Sellafield. The archbishop said that while the matter had not yet been discussed by the Irish Bishops Conference, “95 per cent of the bishops are against nuclear reactors”……. He spoke of the threat of Sellafield to people in west England and on the east coast of Ireland, as evidenced in 1957 when fallout from the then-named Windscale covered substantial areas in both countries.
Rather than nuclear power the emphasis should be on developing alternative energies such as wind, wave and solar power, he said. …… Referring to the UN Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen next month, he said it was to be hoped “despite the economic recession that the representatives of 170 governments of the world will agree to meaningful targets to cut carbon emissions over the next 10 years”. The ecological crisis was “becoming more urgent by the day” with “not nearly enough” being done about it “at world, national or at local level”. The Irish bishops were “seeking to raise awareness of the importance and the urgency of taking steps to reverse global warming”, he said.
Fantastic! This is beyond parody. I hardly know where to begin.
Since when is the Government’s policy on nuclear power (or lack of same) an appropriate matter for the clergy to pontificate on?
Could he not have found many issues actually touching on faith and morals that are more pressing than this? Why don’t we hear from him about greedy bankers, profligate politicians, tribunal liars, drug users, tax evaders, welfare cheats, and so on? (And I hesitate to even mention child abusers, or the Church’s attitude to female priests …..)
Does the Archbishop not realise that we already import and use electricity generated by nuclear power stations, so any “principled” stand on not using nuclear power is completely bogus?
Does he not realise that nuclear power is inevitably going to be part of the solution in reducing carbon emissions, rather than being a contributor to global warming, as he seems to think? Just ask James Lovelock.
Are all good Catholics duty bound to follow his preaching on this issue?! I wonder what the Church of Ireland line is, or that of the Jewish or Islamic churches?
I fear we are going to see a sectarian split on this, as I note that the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, supports Sellafield and also the prospect of another nuclear power station in West Cumbria: “I will defend my position on nuclear power by saying we need it as part of the green energy mix. A new nuclear power station at Sellafield would also provide thousands of jobs. I understand people’s concerns about safety but God has given us the technology as a gift and it’s up to us to make wise and safe use of it.”
And in May 2006, The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, made a visit to Sellafield. Speaking on his visit, the Archbishop said: “The workers at Sellafield are confident about the future of their industry, which is quite rare today. I think there needs to be more confidence about nuclear technology and the jobs that it provides.”
Oh dear, are we going to witness a theological debate between the churches on this? I think it’s time that Pope Benedict issued a papal edict, and consigned ecological heretics to eternal damnation.