Peace is a 'duty' that concerns all say bishops of Japan
By Lisa Zengarini
“Peace is possible; peace is a duty”. The Japanese bishops have reiterated this call in their reflections for the Ten Days of Prayer for Peace event. The prayer initiative is held every year by the Church in Japan from 6 -15 August, the anniversary days of the two atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
In this years’ message for the occasion, signed by the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ), Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, the prelates draw attention to the new threats to nuclear peace and international security, amid Russia's war against Ukraine, taking cue from Pope Francis’ considerations at the General Audience on September 2, 2020 and from his Urbi et Orbi Easter Message on April 17, 2022.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hinders world peace
In the General Audience two years ago, the Pope called for “diversity and solidarity united in harmony” as the way to emerge from COVID-19 crisis in a better state than before. “However – the Japanese bishops note - over the past six months what has unfolded before our eyes has not been harmony, diversity or solidarity, but confrontation, exclusion and violence”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world as a violent act of a major power that trampled on the growing efforts of the international community in its search for peace. The situation continues to unfold without regard for the wishes of so many people who want to protect life and seek peace.
Peace cannot be won through violence
During the pandemic we have learned from experience that supporting each other in solidarity, is the best way to protect life. Now, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world “is being swept by feelings that peace can be won through violence. But that would only trample on true peace”, the Japanese bishops warn.
When we are touched by the many people who are violently deprived of life by war and our hearts are overwhelmed by the unreasonableness of it all, the fear and anger that arises pushes compassion and support out of our emotions.
The consequences of war affect the entire human family
The message goes on to note that war is so “powerful” that other vital but neglected issues related to human life, including poverty, economic crises, persecutions and people forced to flee their homeland for different reasons, “are driven from our awareness”. Citing Pope Francis’ Easter appeal, Archbishop Kikuchi further points out that: “Every war brings in its wake consequences that affect the entire human family: from grief and mourning to the drama of refugees, and to the economic and food crisis”.
As the Church in Japan commemorates the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the bishops, therefore, encourage the faithful “to reflect upon and act for peace from different angles”.
Archbishop Kikuchi closed his message arguing that “peace without violence is possible”, and asked Catholics to use the Ten Days to “take action to proclaim the solidarity that creates peace.”
"Ten days of Prayer for peace" initiative
The "Ten days for peace" initiative was established by the Japanese Bishops in in 1982, following Pope John Paul II’s “Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima” (25 February 1981) during his Apostolic Journey to Japan, in which he emphasized that “remembering the past is engaging for the future”. During his visit to the Country in November 2019, Pope Francis further added that the possession of nuclear weapons is also immoral.