The Anniversary of Hiroshima: John Paul II and Fulton Sheen on the Bomb and Conversion | Dr. R. Jared Staudt | CWR
Some reflections from two spiritual giants of the 20th century on the bombing of Hiroshima and the new, deadly era it ushered in
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. This is not simply an historical anniversary, but a continuing call to conversion. The reflections of St. John Paul II and Ven. Fulton Sheen will show how the use of atomic weapons is still a pressing moral issue, not only in terms of warfare, but in terms of broader cultural changes.
St. John Paul II on Hiroshima
St. John Paul II made the following remarks during his visit to Hiroshima on February 25, 1981:
Two cities will forever have their names linked together, two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the only cities in the world that have had the ill fortune to be a reminder that man is capable of destruction beyond belief. Their names will forever stand out as the names of the only cities in our time that have been singled out as a warning to future generations that war can destroy human efforts to build a world of peace.
John Paul continued: “To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war.”
Going further, he stated to Japan’s ambassador to the Holy See on September 11, 1999: “The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a message to all our contemporaries, inviting all the earth’s peoples to learn the lessons of history and to work for peace with ever greater determination. Indeed, they remind our contemporaries of all the crimes committed during the Second World War against civilian populations, crimes and acts of true genocide.”
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, John Paul also spoke of
the haunting memory of the atomic explosions which struck first Hiroshima and then Nagasaki in August 1945. … Fifty years after that tragic conflict, which ended some months later also in the Pacific with the terrible events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and with the subsequent surrender of Japan, it appears ever more clearly as “a self-destruction of mankind” (Centessiumus Annus, 18). War is in fact, if we look at it clearly, as much a tragedy for the victors as for the vanquished.
John Paul makes clear that we have not yet dealt with all the effects of these bombs—bombs which have inflicted our country as well as Japan.
Ven. Fulton Sheen on the moral effects of the bomb
Ven. Fulton Sheen cuts right to the heart of these effects, ironically when talking to school students about sex.