Aug 9, 2015

Memorial day service in Hiroshima, 6 August

Almost all the Japanese Catholic Bishops and all the Japanese Anglican Bishops prayed together on the eve of the day of bombing of Hiroshima at the Catholic Cathedral of Hiroshima. It was the first time for both Catholic and Anglican bishops organised such prayer service to pray for the World Peace, Peace without nuclear weapons. Around 5 pm on 5 August, all the Bishops joined group of laity of both congregations, mainly youths, in front of the memorial tower in the Peace park. From there, all marched to the Catholic Cathedral for 40 minutes singing Japanese Christian song, "Amen, Hallelujah"

At 7 pm, ecumenical prayer service started with all the Bishops together with representatives from the World Council of Churches led by its vice moderator, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of Methodist Church. Also present with us were 3 Tibetan Buddhist monks who, during the service, prayed for Peace with words by Dalai Lama XIV, "Words of Truth". Peace message was delivered by Bishop Swenson. Bishop Oscar Cantu, the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of United States Bishops, and Bishop Mario Iceta, Bishop of Bilbao, Spain also joined the prayer together with Archbishop Chennoth, Apostolic Nuncio. The Cathedral was full of people to pray for peace and it was quite significant occasion to see people from different denominations were united in just one cause, to establish real peace in this world.

Next morning Requiem Mass was said by Catholic Bishops presided by Archbishop Maeda of Osaka, previous bishop of Hiroshima till last year. (At this moment the see of Hiroshima is vacant.) Mass began at 8:15 am on 6 August, exact time of bombing, with ringing of bells of the Cathedral to join other bells of temples in the city.

70 years has passed since humanity saw such a great scale of man-made catastrophe Only with one single bomb, a city with four hundred thousand people was destroyed and more than ninety thousand lives vanished at once. Because of radiation related diseases more than one hundred and forty thousand people died before the end of that year.

No one actually knows why the US government decided to use two atomic bombs over Japan at the end of the WWII. Yes, it is widely believed that these two bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki expedited Japanese government to decide to surrender so that many lives of soldiers were saved. Maybe so. It is also said that as Japan was already losing most of its military capability at that moment in August, 1945, and its surrender was just a matter of time, two bombs were used to establish military superiority over Soviet Union in consideration of the new world order after the WWII.

I have no idea why they were used at that moment but what I know is so many lives were taken away so violently and inhumanly and so many people are still in agony, both physically and psychologically, and so many sad stories of each individuals, not only in Japan but also in other countries, were created. Justice was done? I do not know and I am not at the position to judge the history. I say the same as St.Pope John Paul II said in Hiroshima in 1981, "War is the work of man. War is destruction of human life. War is death."

What we learned from our recent experience during March 11, 2011 disaster in Tohoku is that human wisdom has clear limitations. Through our experiences of the disaster of earthquake and Tsunami, including aftermath of the accidents of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant for which uncertainty still prevails after more than 4 years, we found out that we had been made to believe with false sense of confidence in our own human abilities and human wisdom. We thought science is almost almighty to solve any problem in this world. It was just a dream.

Also many of us found out we had lost sense of transcendent or sense of God who is far bigger than human being. This would be the result of terrible secularization in Japanese society. We thought that human being are able to control everything in this world with our technology and in such situation, God was no more needed.

"Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall (Proverb 16:18)." This disaster has been giving us warning that each one of us have to be humble enough to examine our life style and change our attitude from self pride to humility and obedience in front of power of God. And more over, we should know that we have limitations and science is not almighty.

I believe that nuclear technology, for both military and peaceful use, is still not under control of human knowledge. As for military purpose, no one knows what will happen if all the existing nuclear arms were really put in use. No one knows because it is almost impossible to imagine the end of human existence. But knowing the capability of extinction of ourselves by nuclear arms, those who have them plenty can not take initiative to abolish them because of fear against the other side. And still some others are trying to possess them in the name of preventive measures and self defense. Alas, what Pope St.John XXIIII wrote in the "Pacem in Terris" in 1963 are not taken seriously yet. Can't we stop these? Can't we stop thinking about existence of own countries alone but to make paradigm shift to think globally? We can not maintain our lives without support from others.. As in the Book of Genesis, 2:18, the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” We are created to be a helper for others so without supporting each other, we lose our very reason to exist.

As for peaceful use of nuclear energy, it is complicated matter. You might think what has been happening in Japan and Fukushima in particular is quite peculiar to the earthquake prone country. I do agree that nuclear energy is clean energy and might be useful to contribute to fight against environmental degradation. But at least this technology produces nuclear waste and human knowledge at this moment has no solution to manage them other than keeping them safe, probably under ground, for quite long period of time. We are surely leaving these nuclear waste for next several generations hoping that they may find better solution. I think this has a bit of unethical implication, at least for my faith.

Are we, human race in early 21 century, really ready to responsibly utilize nuclear energy or are we trying to close our eyes not to see our limitation?