“The development of atomic energy for war and the possession of atomic weapons is immoral and incompatible with our faith” – Archbishop Eamon
It was around this time seventy-five years ago that an atomic bomb was detonated above the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Three days earlier another atomic bomb had devastated Hiroshima. Together these attacks caused more than two hundred thousand immediate deaths and led in the years to come to tens of thousands of others who perished from direct injuries, cancers, and other effects of radiation. The bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy-five years ago are still seen by many as among the worst examples of what we humans can do to each other. The devastation caused on the ground was unimaginable – last Tuesday’s horrific explosion that ripped through the port in Beirut, causing such terrible death and destruction, was small in comparison. And yet, several countries continue to hold, develop or test weapons of mass destruction which are capable of unleashing many times over the horrors of 1945.
Last November Pope Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a pilgrim for peace. He passionately pleaded for an end to the development and threat of such armaments, including the use of the deterrence argument – that having such weapons helps to guarantee world security and peace. He said, “the possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer”. Instead, it fosters “a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue.” It is “incompatible,” he said to try to build and sustain peace “upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”