Pope Francis led his campaign to abolish nuclear weapons in the only two cities hit by atomic bombs on Sunday, calling the possession of weapons perverse and immoral, and their use as a crime against humanity and nature.
Francis visited the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both engraved in the world's collective consciousness after two bombs were dropped by the United States in August 1945 in an effort to 'end World War II'.
“Here, in a blazing burst of lightning and fire, so many men and women, so many dreams and hopes are gone, leaving only shadows and silence,” Francis said at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial after saying a silent prayer.
Yoshiko Kajimoto, who was 14 at the time, recalled “people walking side by side like ghosts, people with their bodies so burned that I couldn't tell the difference between men and women, with their hair standing, their faces swollen, their faces puffy. lips falling and with burnt skin hanging ”.
"No one in this world can imagine a scene from hell," she said.
More than 100.000 people died instantly in the twin attacks, and about 400.000 others died in the subsequent months, years, and decades of disease or radiation.
“With deep conviction, I wish once again to declare that the use of atomic energy for war purposes is today more than ever a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home,” the pope said in Hiroshima. "The use of atomic energy for war purposes is immoral, just as the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I said two years ago."
While his words in Hiroshima had an almost poetic emotional tone, in Nagasaki's speech he issued direct denunciations and demands.
He reaffirmed his support for an 2017 treaty to ban nuclear weapons, which was agreed by nearly two-thirds of UN members, but opposed by major nuclear powers who say the treaty could undermine nuclear deterrence, which they credit for averting war. conventional.
"Our world is marked by a perverse dichotomy that seeks to defend and secure stability and peace through a sense of security underpinned by a mentality of fear and distrust," he said in a dark voice amid heavy rains and strong winds. .
Picture: Vatican media via Reuters