from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to suffer an attack by a nuclear weapon. Many were immediately incinerated. Thousands more died in the next four months because of the effects of nuclear weapons.
Three days later, on August 9 Nagasaki was also attacked by a nuclear bomb. Historically, Nagasaki was the center of Japanese Catholicism since 1549 when the Jesuit Missionary Francis Xavier began his missionary work in Japan. That day 8,500 of the 12,000 Catholics were killed.
The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorate the bombings every year. They have made a commitment to ensure that the memory of these horrific attacks is not forgotten and to continue to pass on information about the bombings so that we might work for nuclear disarmament and world peace.
Nuclear weapons continue to be a serious threat to human life and to all of God’s creation. Justice and Peace are intimately linked with the issue. Where there is armed conflict, injustice thrives, and injustice provides fertile ground for violence. This time of commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can help us to focus on prayer, reflection, and action on behalf of peace and nuclear disarmament.
PRAYER IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI
May the God of Peace, the God of healing be with you,
may the love of Christ dwell deep within your hearts,
may the spirit enlighten your way.
We remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We stand in the presence of all those who perished.
We pray for the victims of these unspeakable atrocities.
We elevate the voices of those who have witnessed the destructive power of nuclear weapons.: the Hibakusha, the Pacific Islanders, the downwinders.
We pray for those who awoke on a beautiful morning and saw the sky suddenly rain down fire. Thousands were instantly incinerated, many others severely burned.
In the homes, streets, gardens of those cities the agony and suffering began with flames smoke and destruction.
We ask for forgiveness again, seventy-six years later. And we will continue to ask for forgiveness.
We ask you in the midst of this broken world where nations raise weapons against other nations, where innocent women, men, children and the elderly are the victims of violence, that we learn to act as peacemakers.
May you inspire us to create a peaceful world. May we call our leaders to accountability and to remind them that more weapons of war do not bring peace. Make us a peaceful people in a peaceful world. Amen.