With the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the bishops of Japan are renewing calls and prayers to build peace by abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide and promoting integral human development.
They also expressed hope that Pope Francis’ visit in November and his expected calls for peace will strengthen people’s desire and boost efforts to bring about a nuclear weapon-free world.
The first atomic bomb used in warfare was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945, killing more than 100,000 people. On 9th August another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people. Japan surrendered on 15th August.
St John Paul II visited both cities during a February 1981 trip and appealed for peace, calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons around the world.
“Let us work hard for peace through justice; let us make a solemn decision now that war no longer be tolerated and seen as a means to resolve disagreements; let us promise with our counterparts that we will tirelessly strive for disarmament and the abolition of all nuclear arms, let us replace violence and hatred with trust and care,” he said, addressing world leaders.
Throughout that speech at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, St John Paul repeated that “to remember the past is to work for the future,” which inspired Japan’s bishops to observe Ten Days of Prayer for Peace from 6th to 15th August 6 every year.
The Archbishop of Nagasaki, Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, said in a message for the days of prayer that guaranteeing peace and security in the world required “not only to eliminate the nuclear threat by abolishing nuclear weapons, but at the same time to make all people richer in all aspects” through integral human development.
He said the bishops were looking forward to Pope Francis bringing “a new peace message to the world” during his expected visit, the second ever to Japan by a pope and nearly 39 years after St John Paul stepped foot there.
Picture: Pope Francis examines photos of the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombing of Japan as he greets members of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Youth Peace Messengers at his weekly general audience on 19th June 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).