Seventy-five years have passed since the Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the end of the Second World War, and the founding of the United Nations. Reflecting on these events, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan note that the world is now “in an uncertain situation” facing “a new Cold War”, instability in East Asia, “the nuclear threat, and the global environmental crisis”.
They address their peace message, 75 Years After the War: Protect all Life, Peace is the Path of Hope, not only to the people of Japan, but to all people of goodwill. As religious leaders in the only country to have experienced the use of atomic bombs against its people, the Japanese Bishops take seriously their responsibility to reflect and to speak on these issues for the sake of the whole world. This is the latest in a series of peace messages marking significant anniversaries.
On the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan issued the message Resolution for Peace and on the 60th anniversary, their message was The Road To Peace Based On Nonviolence – Now Is The Time To Be Prophetic. More recently, for the 70th anniversary, the message was Blessed are the peacemakers – Now especially, peace must not depend upon weapons.
The Japanese Bishops point with appreciation to Pope Francis’ visit last year to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his support for active nonviolence, the revision of the Catechism in relation to the death penalty, and the fact that the Vatican was one of the first states to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Furthermore, an international conference on Prospects for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament was hosted in the Vatican in November 2017.
The 10 Days for Peace, which run from 6 to 15 August were initiated by the Japanese Bishops in response to Pope John Paul II’s 1981 visit to Hiroshima. It is a time in which Catholics in Japan reflect, pray and act for peace. Here in Australia, we can participate and show our solidarity by reading and reflecting on the words of the Japanese Bishops. The Office for Social Justice has also prepared a prayer for use at this time. Printed prayer cards will soon be available via the ACBC Online Shop.Dr Sandie Cornish Publications & Research Officer Office for Social Justice
Did you know that the Vatican was one of the first states to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Please join us in praying for nuclear disarmament from 6 to 15 August.
The Office for Social Justice has prepared a prayer to help the Australian Catholic community to mark the Ten Days for Peace in solidarity with the Church in Japan. Based on the peace prayer of St Francis and the words of Pope Francis, it focuses on nuclear disarmament and active peace-building. We invite you to make this prayer and to share it with others, especially from 6 to 15 August. Print copies will soon be available for order via the ACBC Online Shop.
A Prayer for Nuclear DisarmamentLord of all creation, make us instruments of your peace. Let us learn the lessons of the past, and put an end to nuclear weapons. Where there is hatred, let us sow love. May our love for each other and for all of your creation leave no place for making or owning weapons of mass destruction. Where there is injury, let us be bearers of your healing and pardon. May we create paths to dialogue, understanding and reconciliation. Where there is doubt, let us foster faith in you. May we let the weapons fall from our hands and know that you are God. Where there is despair, let us hold up hope. May our lives reflect your love in the face of violence, knowing that love is stronger than death. Where there is darkness, let us be bearers of your light. May our choices show that peace is possible. Where there is sadness, let us bring the joy of the Gospel. Amen.
The Ten Days for Peace which the Catholic Church in Japan celebrates each year was the response of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan to Pope John Paul II’s appeal at Hiroshima on 25 February 1981. It was the first time that a Pope had visited Hiroshima. Pope Francis also visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in November 2019. At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial he declared that the use of atomic energy for the purposes of war is immoral, and that the possession of nuclear weapons is also immoral. Speaking at the Atomic Hypocentre Park in Nagasaki he said:
“Here in this city which witnessed the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear attack, our attempts to speak out against the arms race will never be enough. The arms race wastes precious resources that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment. 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.”
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The consequences of these events continue to be experienced in the lives of survivors such as the hibakusha in Japan and communities downwind of the tests in New Mexico, known as ‘downwinders’.
Further nuclear tests, including in Australia and the Pacific, have also left tragic legacies of human suffering and ecological destruction. Today the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons continue to pose a danger to human life, and to the whole of creation. The Ten Days of Peace are a good time to pray for our own conversion and to act for peace.Dr Sandie Cornish Publications and Research Officer Office for Social Justice