08/13/2018, 13.39
JAPAN
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For missionary, the Church in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a symbol of 'peace for all humanity'

The Church calls for a Hiroshima’s decisive prophetic commitment to social justice. It expresses a deep desire for forgiveness and reconciliation for a new civilisation of love found in Nagasaki. The bomb dropped on the latter exploded on the city’s Catholic district, Urakami, killing tens of thousands.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Fr Ignacio Martinez Baez, a Guadalupe missionary, heads the Social Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan. This year he took part in the commemoration of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima to Nagasaki.

The "small peace pilgrimage" between the two cities gave him an opportunity to remember the horror of nuclear weapons and pray for a "new civilisation of love".

“Every year, 6 and 9 August are two special days to think about the deep meaning of peace in the world and the process needed to reach this precious gift that people commonly call peace,” he said.

For Fr Martinez it is urgent to remember the reality that became evident for the first time on those two days: today, with atomic weapons, man could "put an end to all life on the surface of the Earth".

On 6 August, many people from all over the world come to Hiroshima to experience "the spirit" and show their opposition to war and nuclear weapons, singing and shouting slogans (pictures 2 and 3).

However, he noted that some “politicians use this Memorial Day for their own partisan purposes or to gain points for their own good”.

The Catholic Church in Hiroshima is small in numbers but has a strong presence. There are many moments of ecumenical prayer, reflection, study and discussion about the process of peace and justice from a Christian point of view.”

The celebration Mass in Hiroshima was an occasion to pray for the victims of war all over the world and for the difficulties confronting mankind now.

"For the first time I could go to Nagasaki on 9 August," said the priest. “From my point of view, the commemoration in this city has another sensitivity. The atomic bomb was dropped on Urakami, a mainly Catholic suburb, where many strongly kept the faith. But on that day many years ago, thousands of innocent Catholic believers were killed.”

“The city of Nagasaki prepares a different ceremony every year (pictures 1 and 4) in a quiet atmosphere, I felt more silence, more reflection, and a very strong determination to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation among people.

The Mass for peace and reconciliation was celebrated at the Urakami Cathedral in the evening of 9 August. After the ceremony, people prayerfully carried the statue of Mary of Urakami to the Peace Park.

“The message was clear: we are called to be witnesses of forgiveness. Only by forgiving in a Christian way is it possible to break the spiral of violence and build a real process of everlasting peace. Each one of us is a messenger of peace and love, which comes from our loving God through the message of Jesus Christ.”

“I felt very thankful because this year I had the chance of making this kind of a small peace pilgrimage to these two cities and had the opportunity to pray, to think and see closer the search of peace in Japanese society from these two points of view.”

“I could confirm that the Church in Japan embodies Hiroshima’s strong commitment to social justice and prophetic stance, but he Church in Japan is also Nagasaki’s profound desire of forgiveness and reconciliation that makes possible a new civilisation of Love.”

“I think it is necessary to integrate these two important and necessary experiences in order to live responsibly our Christian vocation at this point in time in Japan’s history and become real signs of the new and everlasting peace to all humankind.”

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