In a long-awaited speech in Nagasaki, Pope Francis on Nov. 24 strongly criticized the concept of nuclear deterrence and warned of arms races while calling on world leaders to instead use money and resources to cope with environmental issues and poverty.
“Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation,” the pope said before about 1,000 raincoat-wearing attendees at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, ground zero of the second of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States in 1945.
“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven,” the pope said in Spanish.
Later in the day, the 82-year-old Argentine and first non-European pope in 1,600 years delivered another emotional speech at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park denouncing the use of nuclear weapons and mourning for the city’s A-bomb victims.
The pontiff kicked off his four-day visit to Japan on Nov. 23. The visit included a meeting with Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and a Mass at Tokyo Dome.
Francis is the first pope to visit Japan since St. John Paul II in 1981. (The Japan Times)