Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Archfather's Statement on the 75th anniversary year of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 30 September 2020 (ORCNS)

The following Patriarchal Letter was issued by His Holiness and Eminence the Archfather for the 75th anniversary year of the use of nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


In this 75th anniversary year of the devastating destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear weapons dropped by the United States, We take this opportunity to reflect upon the Christian theology pertaining to such weapons and their use. Nuclear technology has brought many positive benefits to global society. Yet, its tremendous destructive potential creates an inherent moral and ethical obligation regarding its employment, both in peace and especially in war. The Church has always maintained the illegitimacy of use and the intrinsic evil of nuclear weapons. This includes our Roman temporal predecessor, Pius XII, who was the Supreme Pontiff during the Second World War, who worked tirelessly against the human rights crisis created by the evils of the Nazi regime, and who spoke against the use of nuclear technology for weapons.

While nations have a legitimate right to self-defense, the response must not be out of all scale and proportion with the attack. Being attacked does not warrant or justify human rights violations. That is, the morality of warfare does not change. Human rights violations and excesses, real or perceived, on the part of the enemy do not render similar acts done in retaliation morally acceptable simply because they are done in retaliation. Indeed, when the military response, whether nuclear or not, is so extreme and so out of proportion with the offense, it cannot be justified and is an affront to both God and humanity.

Pontifical Mass celebrated in the ruins of the
Nagasaki Cathedral in 1949

Furthermore, weapons that go beyond the mere potential for collateral damage into the absolute certainty of widespread indiscriminate killing, in which men, women, and children of all ages and combatant status are likely to be killed, in which entire cities may be wiped off the map with one simple bomb, indeed such weapons are intrinsically evil and may not rightly be used according to the Laws of God. The use of such weapons is an offense against the dignity of mankind and an absolute offense against God. They constitute war crimes of the highest order. Their use is an affront to all of the honourable soldiers who fight with faith in God above all, with a sense of moral purpose and moral restraint, and with a respect for all human life.

Warfare does not mitigate moral responsibility under God. Rather, it is in such extreme and trying circumstances such as warfare that we are called upon as Christians most to maintain the laws of Christ and His Holy Church. It is in that difficulty that our true character as Christians shows forth. A zeal to win does not mitigate moral responsibility. Neither do misguided attempts at justifications, such as claiming the use of nuclear weapons is in reality an attempt to save life, mitigate responsibility, for in reality, such a decision is either trading one set of lives for others or is playing God as if one can know the future. Ultimately such justifications demonstrate arrogance and pride rather than faith.

The geopolitical borders of the world, while they can serve a legitimate purpose in caring for mankind, in fact mean nothing in terms of human dignity. Just and righteous war does indeed exist, yet war is a terrible thing. The potential for righteous glory, courage, and heroism exists beside the potential for brutality, depravity, torture, and other abuses. So much warfare, even today, does not even remotely meet the standards of just war doctrine. So much warfare has originated and continues to originate out of hatred and a lack of respect for human life and dignity. It is in war and other difficult, challenging, and perilous circumstances that, again, we must look to and cling to our faith the most. The salvation of even one soul is more precious than preventing all the evil on the earth, for we know that worldly evil shall indeed fail and be vanquished in the end.  

It is impossible to think that a ban on nuclear weapons, however, would be effective, for the technology exists and would continue to exist even if the physical weapons were banner. The knowledge itself cannot be eradicated. We must, therefore, promote the beneficial and peaceful uses of nuclear technology that benefit society. At the same time, we must openly speak God’s truth and proclaim the same that the church has always maintained since the dawn of the nuclear age. We must proclaim the inherent evil of nuclear weapons and their inconsistency with the Christian faith. Their use and a belief in their use is an intrinsic affront to Almighty God.

May Almighty God bless each of you and bring peace to the world.