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Nagasaki archbishop pleads for end to nuclear weapons

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Why I became a priest:
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placeholder May 10, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Nagasaki archbishop pleads
for end to nuclear weapons

NEW YORK (CNS) — Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, Japan, was an unborn child in his mother’s womb on Aug. 9, 1945, when the second atomic bomb obliterated his hometown. The blast killed about 75,000 people and brought an end to World War II.

This statue was found in the ruins of the Urakami Cathedral, which was destroyed when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
CNS PHOTO/GREGORY A. SHEMITZ

As the month-long U.N. Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons began May 3, he and Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue of Hiroshima came to the United Nations to call on world leaders to “take a courageous step toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons.”

“We as the bishops of the Catholic Church of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks, demand that the president of the United States, the Japanese government and the leaders of other countries make utmost efforts to abolish nuclear weapons,” their statement reads in part.

“How sad and foolish it is to abuse the progress that humanity has made in the fields of science and technology in order to destroy lives as massively and swiftly as possible,” it adds.

As a first step, the Japanese prelates called upon U.S. President Barack Obama to establish a policy of “sole purpose,” which would “limit the purpose of retaining nuclear weapons to deterring others from using such weapons only.”

Archbishop Takami has more than a purely spiritual or philosophical rationale for seeking the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Nagasaki blast claimed the lives of two of his aunts and his grandmother. A cousin died 14 years after the war from bomb-related illnesses. He was born March 6, 1946, and raised in the long shadow cast by Nagasaki’s mushroom cloud.

“My mother spoke about it, but not so many times,” he recalled. “Because she didn’t want to speak about it. Her experience was so sad.”

 
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