Friday 6 December 2019

Stockpiling N-bombs is immoral, says Pope

Message: Pope Francis holds an incense stick during an event in Hiroshima, Japan. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters
Message: Pope Francis holds an incense stick during an event in Hiroshima, Japan. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis travelled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demand that world powers renounce their nuclear arsenals, declaring the use and possession of atomic bombs an "immoral" crime and a dangerous waste.

Standing before survivors of the 1945 US atomic bombings, the Pope denounced the steady erosion of arms control agreements and rejected the Cold War-era doctrine of deterrence that had been sanctioned by the Catholic Church for nearly three decades.

In the rain of Nagasaki and the silent darkness of Hiroshima, he urged political leaders to accept that true peace and international security couldn't be built in a climate of distrust, but rather solidarity.

"The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral," he declared during a nighttime prayer at Hiroshima's peace memorial.

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He added off-the-cuff: "And the possession of weapons is also immoral."

Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the first full day of his three-day trip to Japan aimed at emphasising his call for a global ban on atomic weapons.

The faithful attend a Mass by Pope Francis at Nagasaki Baseball Stadium. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters
The faithful attend a Mass by Pope Francis at Nagasaki Baseball Stadium. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Nagasaki was the perfect place to begin, the birthplace of Christianity in Japan where he could honour innocents killed in war as well as Christian missionaries and martyrs killed for their faith.

The mood there was sombre, darkened by the downpour that drenched the terraced fields and rice paddies and the hundreds of Japanese who came out in plastic raincoats to witness the second pope to pay his respects after St John Paul II in 1981.

The scene was equally as restrained in Hiroshima, where a brief round of applause broke out when Francis arrived, before he called for a moment of silence and then prayed.

Irish Independent

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