Work to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, Archbishop Gomez pleads.
The Catholic bishops’ conference of the United States have called on world leaders to continue in their efforts to abolish all weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear arms.
They issued the call as the world prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the first use of an atomic weapon by one nation against another.
“This week we are observing the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “My brother bishops and I mourn with the Japanese people for the innocent lives that were taken and the generations that have continued to suffer the public health and environmental consequences of these tragic attacks.
“On this solemn occasion, we join our voice with Pope Francis and call on our national and world leaders to persevere in their efforts to abolish these weapons of mass destruction, which threaten the existence of the human race and our planet,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to pray for the human family, and for each one of us. Remembering the violence and injustice of the past, may we commit ourselves to being peacemakers as Jesus Christ calls us to be. Let us always seek the path of peace and seek alternatives to the use of war as a way to settle differences between nations and peoples.”
The statement was accompanied by a number of resources for study, prayer, and action that the faithful may use in observing the anniversary. The USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace produced the resources, which include a prayer card for the anniversary and a letter urging citizens to contact their elected representatives to extend the New Start Treaty between the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in February 2021.
The 75 years since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been marked by fear of another use of nuclear weapons, either by any of the countries that have since gained such capability or by terrorist organizations. The three quarters of a century thus far of the nuclear age also have seen arms races and treaties to reduce stockpiles.
In addition, there is ongoing debate about whether the use of nuclear weapons against Japan was justified, with some saying no because of the presence in the target areas of so many civilians, and others arguing that if such a drastic step was not taken, tenacious Japan would have fought to the death, leading to many more casualties on both the Empire’s side and among the Allies.
Debate also surrounds the continued development and possession of such weapons, which some say have ensured that no country will use them, as they know such an act will lead to retaliation by another nuclear-armed nation.