ROME The Catholic bishops of Japan, which is still dealing with health effects from the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, have asked Pope Francis to warn against the use of nuclear power in his upcoming encyclical on the environment.
Meeting the pope in Rome last week during their ad limina visit, the Japanese bishops asked that even if Francis did not outright condemn nuclear power, he say it has “very serious problems that threaten life.”
“We are very clearly against the Japanese nuclear power plants,” Tokyo Auxiliary Bishop James Kazuo Koda said in an interview Sunday. “We asked the pope to say something about nuclear power plants in his forthcoming encyclical.”
“It is possible that he will not mention in very concrete terms nuclear power plants, but he could say that human pride has been doing much damage to the environment and there are some very, very serious problems that threaten life,” Koda continued. “In this context, he could mention nuclear power plants.”
Koda, who is also the vice president of Caritas Japan, spoke Sunday in a joint NCR interview that also included Tokyo Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada, the president of the Japanese bishops’ conference.
Okada and Koda visited with the pope on March 20 with 14 other Japanese bishops during their ad limina, a formal visit bishops around the world are required to make to report to the pope on their individual dioceses.
During the interview — which lasted about an hour and was conducted in a mixture of English and Japanese with the help of Japanese Mercedarian Sr. Filo Shizue Hirota — the two prelates talked about the visit, the changes Francis is bringing to the church, and a message the Japanese episcopacy has released on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Francis is known to be working on an encyclical — the highest form of teaching for a pope — that is to address environmental and ecological issues.