Pope Francis calls for a world free of nuclear weapons

by on November 25, 2019

In a highly symbolic visit to Nagasaki, one of the two Japanese cities devastated by nuclear strikes during the closing days of World War II in August 1945, Pope Francis said nuclear weapons were “not the answer” for global security, peace and stability.

“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,” Francis said in Nagasaki on Sunday.

“Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation,” Francis noted. “They can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation.”

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After laying a wreath of flowers and praying in the rain at the foot of the memorial to the atomic bomb victims, the somber pontiff said the place stands as a stark reminder “of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.”

The head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics also criticized governments for spending huge sums on the development and manufacture of destructive weapons, while millions of people worldwide remain destitute.

“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.”

After his Nagasaki trip, Francis also visited Hiroshima, the other city attacked with a nuclear weapon, and met survivors.

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‘It’s like a dream’

Francis kicked off his four-day visit of Japan on Saturday, arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport after visiting Thailand. He is the first pope to visit Japan in 38 years, following John Paul II in 1981.

The pope’s Asian tour is seen as part of the Catholic Church’s recent efforts to shift its focus more to Asia, Africa and South America, where the number of Catholics is now growing rapidly.

In Nagasaki, hundreds of people in white waterproofs sat in torrential rain to hear the pope’s speech. “I think he is a person who can deliver the message of peace without inhibition,” said Negoro Fumiyo, a 62-year-old Christian from Osaka.

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