US welcomes a change in bishops' A-arms letter

The Reagan administration welcomed changes made by a panel of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in a draft pastoral letter on nuclear war. In its first formal reaction to the 150-page document made public Tuesday, the State Department said it reflected a far better understanding of US strategic policy than earlier versions. The letter repeated a call for total opposition to nuclear war and opposes ''first use'' of nuclear weapons. But a department spokesman said that the latest draft distinguished more clearly between universally binding principles and their practical application in the world and that it noted the Soviet Union's global ambitions, human rights record , and military programs.

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