Japan is the second leg of a papal trip to Asia, which began in Thailand Nov. 20-23.
Nagasaki “witnessed the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear attack,” he said. “This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another.”
During World War II, Nagasaki was the site of a nuclear attack by the U.S. on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima.
About 70,000 people died instantly and in the immediate aftermath, and another 75,000 by the end of the month, as the northern part of Nagasaki, called Urakami, was obliterated.
Urakami, and the entire city of Nagasaki, had been a center of Catholicism in Japan for over four centuries. When the bomb was dropped, 8,500 of the city’s 12,000 Catholics were killed instantly.
A cross and statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, damaged in the strike, were recently found in the Cathedral of Nagasaki. Francis said these images “remind us once more of the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families.”
According to the pope, no one can ever speak out too much against the arms race and the damage it causes, including the wasting of financial resources which could be used to feed impoverished children and families.
This is an “affront crying out to heaven,” he stated.
He noted the Japanese bishops’ appeal, launched in July, to end nuclear arms, as well as their annual 10-day prayer for peace, held every August.
“May prayer, tireless work in support of agreements and insistence on dialogue be the most powerful ‘weapons’ in which we put our trust and the inspiration of our efforts to build a world of justice and solidarity that can offer an authentic assurance of peace,” he said.
Pope Francis closed his speech by praying for peace with a prayer commonly attributed St. Francis.
Addressing a crowd of both Catholics and non-Catholics, he said this prayer is one “we can all make our own.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy,” he prayed.