My first priest assignment was in September 1979 to St. Patrick in Seneca Falls, just 12 north of the former Seneca Army Depot. At the time there were allegations there were nuclear weapons stored at the Depot, the allegations were never proven true or false. There was several anti-nuclear movements at the time, including the Diocese of Rochester Priest Council calling for an end of nuclear weapons being stored at the Depot. On behalf of the Council, I was dispatch to visit the Depot’s leadership to determine if there was nuclear weaponry stored there. Nothing came of my visit, but as you may know, a few years later the Army moved the nuclear arms and closed the Depot.
These memories came back to mind as we look to August 6 and 9, which mark 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was the first, and one hopes the last, time that atomic weapons are employed in war. Pope St. John Paul II visited Japan in 1981, each year the Catholic Church in Japan has observed Ten Days of Prayer for Peace. On this 75th anniversary, I invite all of you to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and at Mass next Sunday, August 9.
The 21st century continues to witness increasingly sophisticated weapons, and the erosion of international arms control frameworks. The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. Our Church leaders proclaim a humble call for peace in our world, which is God’s gift through the saving action of Jesus.
“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” Pope Francis said in Nagasaki last year. He continued, “Our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be joint and concerted, inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”
Recently, the USCCB re-affirmed the Holy Father’s call to “renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity.” Fear, distrust, and conflict will be ended by our common commitment, to our faith and prayer, that peace and justice will prevail.
Let us continue to pray for and take action to bring about peace in our world!
In peace and courage,