Pope Francis Recalls ‘Tragic Atomic Bombardments’ of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on August 2, 2020 during the Sunday Angelus prayer. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis marked the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while calling for a nuclear weapon-free world Sunday.

“On 6 and 9 August 1945, 75 years ago, the tragic atomic bombardments of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place,” the pope told crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus address.

“While I recall the visit I made to those places last year with deep emotion and gratitude,” he said, “I renew the invitation to pray and the commitment to a world completely free of nuclear weapons.”

The pontiff has repeatedly condemned the U.S. bombing of Japan that brought an end to the Second World War.

Last November, prior to the pope’s trip to Japan, he denounced the “evil” bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, calling the attacks a “tragic episode in human history.”

“I will soon visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I will offer prayers for the victims of the catastrophic bombing of these two cities, and echo your own prophetic calls for nuclear disarmament,” the pope told Japanese bishops.

“I wish to meet those who still bear the wounds of this tragic episode in human history, as well as the victims of the triple disaster,” he said. “Their continued sufferings are an eloquent reminder of our human and Christian duty to assist those who are troubled in body and spirit, and to offer to all the Gospel message of hope, healing and reconciliation.”

“Evil has no preferences; it does not care about people’s background or identity,” he said.

Francis also sent a video message to the Japanese people, condemning the use of nuclear weapons as “immoral” just before his departure for Asia.

“Your country is very aware of the suffering caused by war,” the pope said. “Together with you, I pray that the destructive power of nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again in human history.”

“Using nuclear weapons is immoral,” he said, speaking in his native Spanish.

In 2018, the pope handed out postcards to journalists featuring the photo of a Japanese boy carrying his dead brother after the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki. It included his personal message: “the fruit of war” and had the Pope’s signature, “Franciscus.”

“So it is necessary to destroy the weapons, let’s strive for nuclear disarmament,” Francis said at the time.

Francis has insisted that the 1945 bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki arose from a U.S. “desire for dominance and destruction” rather than from concern to halt Japanese aggression and put an end to the war.

“The Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are among those who currently keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened in August 1945 and the unspeakable sufferings that have continued to the present time,” the pontiff said in a message.

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