Paper lanterns float on the Motoyasu River in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. Pope Francis has called for a ban on nuclear weapons. (Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP)
Marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pope Francis repeated the Catholic Church's call for a ban on nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.
Seventy years after the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima and the bombing of Nagasaki three days later, "this tragic event still gives rise to horror and revulsion," the pope said Aug. 9 after reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities by the United States during World War II, he said, have become a symbol of "the vast destructive power of human beings when they make distorted use of scientific and technical progress."
At the same time, he said, the destruction unleashed is a lasting call to humanity to reject war and "ban nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction."
"Most of all, the sad anniversary is a call to pray and work for peace, to spread throughout the world an ethic of brotherhood and a climate of serene coexistence among peoples," Pope Francis said.
"From every land," he prayed, "let one voice rise: no to war, no to violence, yes to dialogue, yes to peace!"
"The only way to win a war is not to make war," the pope said.
Pope Francis also told the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square that he was following with deep concern the news coming out of El Salvador, where suffering is increasing because of growing violence, economic difficulties and "acute social contrasts."
"I encourage the dear Salvadoran people to persevere, united in hope, and I exhort all to pray that in the land of Blessed Oscar Romero justice and peace will bloom again," he said.