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Top Vatican official visits Hiroshima

Secretary for Relations with States praises Japan’s prophetic vision on nuclear issue

Top Vatican official visits Hiroshima

Archbishop Gallagher gives rosaries to seminarians at the Japan Catholic Seminary in Tokyo on Feb. 2. ( photo) reporter, Tokyo

February 6, 2017

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Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States extolled a vision of peace and commended Japan's "prophetic vision" when he visited there Jan. 28 – Feb. 3.

The archbishop paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Jan. 31 and met with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. They both renewed a request that Pope Francis visit Japan.

The leaders affirmed that cooperation between Japan and the Vatican would be strengthened in the fields of peace, nuclear arms abolition and the environment, according to Japan's Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Archbishop Gallagher also visited Hiroshima where Hiroshima Prefecture Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki and Mayor Kazumi Matsui also asked the archbishop to organize a papal visit.

On the day of his arrival in Japan on Jan. 28, Archbishop Gallagher spoke at a reception at the Apostolic Nunciature in Tokyo. ( photo)


The archbishop toured the Peace Memorial Museum and laid flowers at the Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims. He also celebrated Mass at Hiroshima's Memorial Cathedral for World Peace with bishops from Osaka ecclesiastical province.

"One of the things that I've learned since I arrived in Japan and during my visit to Hiroshima is that Japan has a very particular and understandable take on the whole nuclear question," the archbishop said at a press conference on Feb. 2.

"Japan is the only country in the world which has suffered from the explosion of nuclear devices. And so, the vision that you have here of the whole question is very particular," he said.


Archbishop Gallagher and Japanese Ambassador to the Holy See Yoshio Nakamura at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Jan. 30. The building behind them is the ‘Atomic Bomb Dome.’ ( photo)


The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan published a 290-page book in October 2016 calling for the worldwide abolition of nuclear power and demonstrating the philosophical basis for their opposition. English and German translations are in preparation.

In relation to nuclear power abolition, Archbishop Gallagher said, "We understand that the Catholic community here have a particular vision. They believe that they have to give a prophetic voice, and we respect that voice."

In response to a question about rising tensions in East Asia over history and territory, Archbishop Gallagher said that, "reconciliation involves a true examination of the truth and embracing that truth in a spirit of forgiveness. And that is the line we take."

During his visit, Archbishop Gallagher met with Catholic organizations such as Caritas Japan. Caritas staff explained the situations where they work: supporting people in Japan's earthquake disaster area and helping immigrants and refugees.

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