Taken as a whole, the Roman Catholic Bishops' 1983 pastoral letter on war and peace, "The Challenge of Peace, God's Promise, and Our Response"' has two purposes: first, to assist Catholics in the formation of their consciences; and, second, to contribute to the ongoing public policy debate concerning the morality of war in general, and of nuclear war in particular. This article will address the stated purposes of and the suggestions made in the pastoral letter from the vantage point of American statutory and constitutional law. It will make no attempt to provide definitive legal answers to the many questions raised by and in the letter, for there are none in this complex and challenging area of law. Its purpose is to raise some of the practical legal and moral questions which are critical to the conscientious choices of the individuals to whom the letter is addressed: government officials, citizens, members of the armed services, workers in defense industries, clergy and religious and others.
Robert A. Destro, Pastoral Politics and Public Policy: Reflections on the Legal Aspects of the Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, 4 J. L. & RELIGION 25 (1986).