Washington — A top State Department official has questioned the deepening involvement of Roman Catholic church leaders in the antinuclear weapons movement, Monitor correspondent Godfrey Sperling Jr. writes.
Undersecretary of State James L. Buckley was asked by one of a group of reporters at a breakfast meeting Tuesday whether he ''as a Catholic was dismayed by the unprecedented appearance that a lot of Catholic bishops were moving against nuclear weapons . . . and are teaching that the use of these weapons is immoral.''
He replied: ''I am a little dismayed. I think it reflects all of the kinds of humane concerns that one is proud to have associated with one's religion. I think that too many of the statements that are being made by some members of the hierarchy are being made in somewhat of a factual vacuum.
''Since Hiroshima, there have been a number of statements issued out of the Vatican and other reasonably high sources about this terrible problem . . . . There are times when humanity is confronted with rather terrible alternatives. And to the degree that the possession of nuclear strength represents a genuine deterrent of a nuclear threat, then it is licit.
''The question is: What would be the consequences to the values that the church teaches of unilateral disarmament in the West? I think more thinking has to be done by some who have been preaching disarmament.''