On the first full day of his tour of Japan, Pope Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki and delivered a clear message: possessing or deploying atomic weapons is immoral.
“Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction, or the threat of total annihilation,” Francis said in an address in Nagasaki. He spoke at the site where the United States exploded an atomic bomb in 1945, killing 74,000 people by the end of that year.
The nuclear arms race wastes resources that could instead improve people’s lives and protect the environment, the pontiff said.
“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,” he said.
“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral,” he said Sunday. “As is the possession of atomic weapons.”
His 2017 declaration was a departure from the papacy’s previous position, which held that nuclear deterrence was acceptable if it was in the service of eventual disarmament.