Pope Francis has visited Peace Memorials in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, dedicated to the two sites where atomic bombs were dropped during World War II.
During his visits, Pope Francis reaffirmed that the use of atomic energy for war is immoral, and confirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to promoting peace.
Pope in Nagasaki: We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past
Pope Francis visited the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki on Sunday morning 24 November. He placed flowers at the foot of the monument, and noted how “This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.”
“One of the deepest longings of the human heart is for security, peace and stability,” continued the Pope. “The possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to this desire.”
Pope Francis reflected on how “our world is marked by a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue.”
Peace and international stability, said the Pope, “can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family of today and tomorrow.”
Pope Francis reaffirmed that “the arms race wastes precious resources that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment.
In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven”, he said.
If we are to build a world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, we must involve everyone, said the Pope: “individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organisations.”
Pope Francis called for a ”joint and concerted” response to the threat of nuclear weapons, “inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”
Pope Francis confirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to promoting peace between peoples and nations, calling it “a duty to which the Church feels bound before God and every man and woman in our world.”
“May prayer, tireless work in support of agreements, and insistence on dialogue be the most powerful ‘weapons’ in which we put our trust and the inspiration of our efforts to build a world of justice and solidarity that can offer an authentic assurance of peace,” he said.
The Pope invited everyone to pray daily “for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation and fraternity. A fraternity that can recognise and respect diversity in the quest for a common destiny.”
Pope Francis concluded quoting the prayer for peace attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
“In this striking place of remembrance that stirs us from our indifference”, said the Pope, “it is all the more meaningful that we turn to God with trust, asking Him to teach us to be effective instruments of peace and to make every effort not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Pope in Hiroshima: Use and possession of atomic energy for war is immoral
Pope Francis then visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and describes it as a place where death and life, loss and rebirth, suffering and compassion have met. He reaffirms that the use and possession of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral.
Pope Francis flew to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial on Sunday. Pope Francis said he had come to pay homage to the victims and to acknowledge the strength and dignity of the survivors. “We continue even today to hear the cries of those who are no longer,” said the Pope. “They came from different places, had different names, and some spoke different languages. Yet all were united in the same fate, in a terrifying hour that left its mark forever not only on the history of this country, but on the face of humanity.”
The Pope said he had come to this place of memory and hope for the future, as “a pilgrim of peace,” bringing with him “the cry of the poor who are always the most helpless victims of hatred and conflict.” Pope Francis said he wanted to be “the voice of the voiceless, who witness with concern and anguish the growing tensions of our own time: the unacceptable inequalities and injustices that threaten human coexistence, the grave inability to care for our common home, and the constant outbreak of armed conflict, as if these could guarantee a future of peace.”
The Pope declared once more, “that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral,” affirmed Pope Francis, and “we will be judged on this.” “Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth.” Peace must be “founded on truth, built up in justice, animated and perfected by charity, and attained in freedom,” he added.
“If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands,” continued the Pope. “How can we propose peace if we constantly invoke the threat of nuclear war as a legitimate recourse for the resolution of conflicts?” he asked. “A true peace can only be an unarmed peace,” because peace is not merely the absence of war, he repeated: “It is the fruit of justice, development, solidarity, care for our common home and the promotion of the common good, as we have learned from the lessons of history.”
We are called to journey together with a gaze of understanding and forgiveness, continued the Pope, “to open the horizon to hope and to bring a ray of light amid the many clouds that today darken the sky.” Pope Francis invited us all to “open our hearts to hope, and become instruments of reconciliation and peace.”
Pope Francis concluded with a single plea “to God and to all men and women of good will, on behalf of all the victims of atomic bombings and experiments, and of all conflicts, let us together cry out: Never again war, never again the clash of arms, never again so much suffering!”
Vatican News – Pope in Nagasaki: We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past