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Pope visits cities destroyed by atomic bombs

29 November 2019

On his Japanese trip, he expresses horror of nuclear weapons


After laying a wreath, the Pope prays for those killed by the bomb, at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Japan, on Sunday

After laying a wreath, the Pope prays for those killed by the bomb, at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Japan, on Sunday

THE possession of nuclear weapons is “immoral” Pope Francis has said, on a visit to the Japanese cities destroyed by two atomic bombs in 1945.

In Hiroshima, the first bomb detonated by the Allies killed 140,000. In Nagasaki, which had been at the centre of Roman Catholicism in Japan for centuries, about 70,000 died instantly when the bomb fell, and another 75,000 died by the end of the month. The Nagasaki attack led to the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War.

After meeting survivors of the two bombs, the Pope spoke of the “unspeakable horror” suffered by victims and their families, and he urged world leaders to stop stockpiling nuclear weapons as deterrents.

Standing next to a photo of a boy carrying his dead baby brother on his back, at the crematorium in Nagasaki, Pope Francis said: “This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.

“Convinced as I am that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary, I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security. Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation,” he said.

In a world stricken with poverty, money spent on nuclear weapons are an “affront crying out to heaven”.

“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral. The possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.”

Pope Francis is the first pope to visit Japan — where there are fewer than half a million Roman Catholics — since 1981, when Pope John Paul II travelled to Nagasaki and Hiroshima and also called for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

On the third day of his four-day visit, the Pope met victims of the 2004 tsunami, the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, also in 2011.


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