US archbishops make nuclear disarmament stand

Nuclear disarmament

On the solemn occasion of the 78th anniversary of the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima, two US archbishops and a peace delegation took a stand for nuclear disarmament.

Archbishop Paul Etienne of Seattle and Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, along with a Pilgrimage of Peace delegation from their respective archdioceses, participated in an interfaith prayer ceremony and a peace memorial ceremony to commemorate the lives lost.

They also advocated for a world free from the spectre of nuclear weapons.

The interfaith ceremony, led by the Hiroshima Prefecture Federation of Religions, was held at the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound.

Archbishop Etienne expressed the weight of the moment – “It was hard to fathom that with just one bomb, this entire city along with some 140,000 people died as a result, far more than the tens of thousands gathered this morning to remember them,” he wrote on his blog.

The August 6th, 1945 bombing led to the deaths of thousands and countless others suffered from radiation-related illnesses. The survivors, known as “hibakusha,” continue to bear physical and psychological scars from the tragedy.

Moving interfaith service

During the moving interfaith service, Shinto priests, religious leaders and dignitaries paid their respects, and the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi was read as a poignant reminder of the universal yearning for peace.

The Pilgrimage of Peace initiative is actively engaging with Japanese bishops to foster relationships and collaborate towards nuclear disarmament. It also extends sincere apologies for the hardships Japan endured due to the bombing.

Following the interfaith service, the Seattle and Santa Fe delegation proceeded to Hiroshima Peace Park where the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony was held.

This event, attended by over 5,000 people representing more than 110 nations, featured speeches from Hiroshima’s mayor, governor, Japan’s prime minister and a representative from the United Nations.

As the Peace Bell resonated at 8:15 am, marking the exact moment the bomb struck Hiroshima, a profound silence filled the air.

Archbishop Etienne emphasised the significance of the younger generation’s role in peace efforts. Two young children read the Children’s Commitment to Peace, inspiring a reminder that everyone can contribute to a better world through simple yet meaningful actions.

The delegation visited Gion Catholic Church, where they shared a homemade lunch with parishioners and watched a documentary about Jesuit priests who were present in Hiroshima during the bombing.

Archbishop Etienne reiterated a resounding call for nuclear disarmament, stating that thousands of nuclear weapons pose a global threat. He urged a shift towards building relationships of care, healing broken bonds and working tirelessly for a future marked by genuine and lasting peace.


National Catholic Reporter

CathNews New Zealand

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News category: World.

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