APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
IN THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19 - 26 November 2019)
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
ON THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki)
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters!
This place makes us more aware of the pain and horror we can inflict on ourselves as human beings. The bombed cross and the statue of the Madonna, recently discovered in the Cathedral of Nagasaki, remind us once again of the horror untold immediately in their flesh by the victims and their families.
One of the deepest desires of the human heart is the desire for peace and stability. The possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is not the best answer to this desire; indeed, they seem to constantly put it to the test. Our world lives the perverse dichotomy of wanting to defend and guarantee stability and peace on the basis of a false security supported by a mentality of fear and mistrust, which ends up poisoning relations between peoples and preventing any possible dialogue.
Peace and international stability are incompatible with any attempt to build on the fear of mutual destruction or on a threat of total annihilation; they are possible only from a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation at the service of a future shaped by interdependence and co-responsibility in the entire human family of today and tomorrow.
Here, in this city, which is witness to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear attack, there will never be enough attempts to raise the voice against the arms race. This fact wastes precious resources that could instead be used for the benefit of the integral development of peoples and for the protection of the natural environment. In today's world, where millions of children and families live in inhuman conditions, the money spent and the fortunes earned to manufacture, modernize, maintain and sell weapons, ever more destructive, are a constant attack crying out to the sky.
A world in peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. Transforming this ideal into reality requires the participation of everyone: people, religious communities, civil societies, states that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not possess them, military and private sectors and international organizations. Our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be collective and concerted, based on the arduous but constant construction of mutual trust that will break the currently prevalent mistrust dynamic. In 1963, Pope St. John XXIII in the Encyclical Pacem in terris, also asking for the prohibition of atomic weapons (see n. 60), affirmed that a true and lasting international peace cannot rest on the balance of military forces, but only on mutual trust (see n. 61).
It is necessary to break the mistrust dynamics that currently prevails and that runs the risk of arriving at the dismantling of the international arms control architecture. We are witnessing an erosion of multilateralism, even more serious in the face of the development of new weapons technologies; this approach seems rather inconsistent in the current context marked by interconnection and constitutes a situation that requires urgent attention and also dedication on the part of all leaders.
The Catholic Church, for its part, is irrevocably committed to the decision to promote peace between peoples and nations: it is a duty for which it feels obligated before God and before all the men and women of this land. We can never tire of working and insisting without delay on the main international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Last July, the bishops of Japan launched an appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and in August the Japanese Church celebrates a ten-day prayer meeting for peace. May prayer, tireless research for the promotion of agreements, insistence on dialogue be the "weapons" in which we place our trust and also the source of inspiration for efforts to build a world of justice and solidarity that provides real guarantees for peace.
In the belief that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary, I ask political leaders not to forget that these do not defend us from threats to national and international security of our time. We need to consider the catastrophic impact of their use from a humanitarian and environmental point of view, renouncing to strengthen a climate of fear, mistrust and hostility, fueled by nuclear doctrines.
The current state of our planet requires, in turn, a serious reflection on how all these resources could be used, with reference to the complex and difficult implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, and therefore to achieve objectives such as integral human development. This is what Pope Paul VI suggested in 1964, when he proposed to help the most disinherited through a World Fund, fueled by a part of military expenditure (see Speech to journalists, Mumbai, December 4, 1964; Enc. Populorum progressio, March 26, 1967, 51).
For all this, it is crucial to create tools that guarantee mutual trust and development and to be able to count on leaders who are up to the circumstances. A task that, in turn, involves us and challenges us all. No one can be indifferent to the pain of millions of men and women who still today continue to affect our consciences; no one can be deaf to the cry of the brother who calls from his wound; no one can be blind to the ruins of a culture incapable of dialogue.
I ask you to join us in prayer every day for the conversion of consciences and for the triumph of a culture of life, of reconciliation and of fraternity. A fraternity that knows how to recognize and guarantee the differences in the search for a common destiny.
I know that some of those present here are not Catholics, but I am sure that we can all make our own the prayer for peace attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where hate is, that I may bring love;
where there is offence, that I may bring forgiveness;
where there is doubt, that I may carry the faith;
where there is despair, that I may bring hope;
where the darkness is, that I may bring the light;
where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
In this place of memory, which impresses us and cannot leave us indifferent, it is even more meaningful to trust in God, to teach us to be effective instruments of peace and to work so as not to make the same mistakes as in the past.
May you and your families, and the entire nation, experience the blessings of prosperity and social harmony!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation