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Pope Francis denounces nuclear power via Nuclear-News

[…]This is probably the first clear-cut criticism of the “civil use” of nuclear power issued by the Vatican. The Pope expressed his conviction during an ad limina meeting with the Japanese bishops on March 20. “The destruction of nature is a result from human beings claiming domination (over the earth).” With these statements the Pope referred to the TEPCO-nuclear disaster in Fukushima in March 2011. Soon after the terrible disaster, the Japanese Catholic Bishops’ Conference had publicly demanded from the government the immediate shutdown of all nuclear power plants.

During the audience, Bishop Katsuya Taiji, head of the “Council for Justice and Peace” of the Japanese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, had handed over letters of two activists from Fukushima to the Pope. The first author was Takumi Aizawa, a school clerk from Iidate Mura, the most contaminated place in Fukushima Prefecture, who is involved in health care and protection of children since the disaster. In fact Mr. Aizawa had the great wish to inform the Pope personally about the real situation of the people in the contaminated area because the government, the administration, many doctors and scientists, and the media try to cover up the extremely dangerous situation. The second author is Mako Oshidori, a well-known journalist from Tokyo, who attended most of the TEPCO press conferences with critical questions and who is investigating the contaminated region constantly…….

Until now the Vatican had condemned only the military use of nuclear power. Since the Vatican is member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it seems that with his critical statements about the “civil use” of nuclear energy Pope Francis deviates considerably from the position of his predecessors und is pursuing a new direction. Many Catholics hope that in his next encyclica on the protection of the environment the Pope will clearly voice also his critical attitude towards nuclear power.

Wolfgang Buff and Martin Repp
April 2015

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◇from Laudate Si: On Care for Our Common Home(references to nuclear energy in Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, 24 May 2015)

104. Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology,
knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us
tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the
economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the
entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be
used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used.

184. In the face of possible risks to the environment which may affect the common good now and
in the future, decisions must be made “based on a comparison of the risks and benefits foreseen
for the various possible alternatives”.[131] This is especially the case when a project may lead to a
greater use of natural resources, higher levels of emission or discharge, an increase of refuse, or
significant changes to the landscape, the habitats of protected species or public spaces. Some
projects, if insufficiently studied, can profoundly affect the quality of life of an area due to very
different factors such as unforeseen noise pollution, the shrinking of visual horizons, the loss of
cultural values, or the effects of nuclear energy use. The culture of consumerism, which prioritizes
short-term gain and private interest, can make it easy to rubber-stamp authorizations or to conceal

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