By Andrea Tornielli
Pope Francis’ words broke the great silence commemorating the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Speaking in these two city-symbols of nuclear destruction, the Pope’s decisive condemnation of both the use and the possession of atomic weapons, marks a further development in the Church’s social teaching.
At the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Pope Francis said that peace and international stability are incompatible with any attempt to build on fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation. “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.
The Pope denounced the “erosion of multilateralism which is all the more serious in light of the growth of new forms of military technology”, that bring us closer to a Third World War: one that is currently being fought “piecemeal”, as Pope Francis often reminds us.
The last event of the Pope’s long day in Japan took place in Hiroshima. There he confirmed 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 war purposes is immoral. We will be judged on this.”
Pope Francis repeated what he had said during a November 2017 Conference in the Vatican: that not only is the use of atomic weapons immoral, so is their possession and accumulation, which puts the world at daily risk of self-destruction. “A true peace can only be an unarmed peace”, concluded the Pope in Hiroshima. “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.”
May the abyss of pain endured in Hiroshima and Nagasaki be a continual reminder to us: the pain reflected in the face of the wooden statue of Our Lady that emerged from the ruins of Nagasaki, and which accompanied the celebration of the Mass presided over by Pope Francis, expressing both consolation and caution.