Catholic church leaders in Japan and the United States renewed calls for nuclear disarmament this week as the world marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings at the end of World War II.
The church leaders said it would be “ideal” if the United States and Japan “could truly reconcile with each other and work together for the abolition of nuclear weapons.”
“As long as the idea that weapons are necessary for peacemaking persists, it will be difficult to even reduce the number of nuclear weapons, let alone to abolish nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki reported CNS.
Speaking in a webinar on Aug. 3, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, and Archbishop Takami reiterated calls by the bishops’ conferences of both countries to dismantle nuclear weapons.
Bishop Malloy said the world must “find the means for complete and mutual disarmament based on a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.”
Atomic bombs obliterated the city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki three days later. The bombings killed somewhere between 110,000 – 210,000 people.
In his talk, Archbishop Takami, president of the Japanese bishops’ conference, drew from the words of St. Pope John Paul II, who visited the two cities in 1981, delivering an urgent appeal that all people commit to a future without nuclear weapons.
The late pope’s call prompted the Japanese bishops’ conference to designate Aug.6-15 every year as “10 Days of Prayer for Peace” starting in 1982.
“Pope Francis went one step further and declared that the possession and use of nuclear are immoral,” said Archbishop Takami.
“The pope stressed the need for unity and working together toward a world free of nuclear weapons and committed the church to the goal,” he said.
On July 7, Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama of Hiroshima launched the Nuclear-Free World Foundation with three peace organizations to support people working toward the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was approved in 2017 by majority of United Nations member states.
The Holy See became one of the first entities to ratify the agreement.
Bishop Malloy, meanwhile, said American bishops remain dedicated to the vision for disarmament expressed in their 1983 pastoral letter “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.”
The document committed the bishops “to shaping the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing of 1945.”
“Without that sorrow, there is no possibility of finding a way of repudiating future use of nuclear weapons,” it added.
“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” the pontiff said on Nov. 24, 2019 in a speech delivered at the ground zero site of the 1945 nuclear attack on Nagasaki.