Peace can only flourish when weapons of war — especially nuclear arms — are put aside, Pope Francis wrote in a message commemorating the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
“It has never been clearer that, for peace to flourish, all people need to lay down the weapons of war, and especially the most powerful and destructive of weapons: nuclear arms that can cripple and destroy whole cities, whole countries,” the pope wrote in a message posted on hiroshimaforpeace.com.
In his message, the pope wrote about his apostolic visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki during November last year.
“[the visit] allowed me to reflect at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and at Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki on the destruction of human life and property wrought in these two cities during those terrible days of war three quarters of a century ago,” he wrote.
US 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.
“Just as I came to Japan as a pilgrim of peace last year, so I continue to hold in my heart the longing of the peoples of our time, especially of young people, who thirst for peace and make sacrifices for peace,” the pontiff said. “I carry too the cry of the poor, who are always among the first victims of violence and conflict.”
The pope further reflected on his apostolic visit.
“I repeat what I said in Hiroshima last year: ‘The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral,’” the pope said.
“May the prophetic voices of the hibakusha survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to serve as a warning to us and for coming generations! To them, and to all who work for reconciliation, we make the words of the psalmist our own: ‘For love of my brethren and friends, I say: Peace upon you!’(Ps 122:8).”
The publishing of the pope’s message — written July 15 from the Vatican — came in the same week that Catholic church leaders in Japan and the United States renewed calls for nuclear disarmament.
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.”