(Source: CD/Vatican News)
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Japan on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima which took place during the Second World War.
In a message sent Thursday to the Governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yusaki, the Pope offered his “cordial greetings to the organizers and participants in the seventy-fifth solemn anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and in a special way to the hibakusha survivors of the original tragedy.”
The Pope also recalled that he was able to reflect on “the destruction of human life and property” at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and at Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki during this Apostolic Visit to the two cities in November 2019.
Pilgrim of peace
Pope Francis said that just as he came to Japan last year as a pilgrim of peace, he holds in his heart “the longing of the peoples of our time,” especially of young people “who thirst for peace and make sacrifices for peace.”
He also expressed his closeness to the poor “who are always among the first victims of violence and conflict.”
Pope appeals against nuclear weapons
In a message at Hiroshima in 2019, Pope Francis said that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.”
The pontiff repeated those sentiments in his message today on the anniversary of the bombings of the Japanese cities.
He wrote that “never has it been clearer that, for peace to flourish, it is necessary for all peoples to put down the weapons of war, and especially the most powerful and destructive ones: nuclear weapons that can paralyse and destroy entire cities, entire countries”.
Closeness to nuclear bomb survivors
Pope Francis turned his thoughts towards the “bomb-affected-people” referred to as hibakusha.
Many of them, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, suffer from horrifying effects of the bombings including radiation poisoning and psychological trauma.
Pope Francis prayed that their prophetic voices might serve “as a warning to us for coming generations.”
“To them, and to all who work for reconciliation,” said the Pope, “we make the words of the psalmist our own: ‘For the love of my brethren and my friends. I say: Peace upon you!’ (Ps 122: 8)”.
Concluding his message, Pope Francis invoked “abundant divine blessings” upon all who commemorate the solemn anniversary.
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