From November 23-26, 2019, Pope Francis will be in Japan for the first time and will visit Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. For the Pax Christi peace movement this journey gives important momentum for our nuclear disarmament work, and also as we prepare for the Pax Christi International 2020 World Assembly in Hiroshima.
The announced program of Pope Francis includes delivering a message on nuclear weapons, visiting sites of commemoration, and meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Abe as well as Catholic Church leaders. It is also foreseen that he will meet with survivors of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, known as Hibakusha. Pax Christi Korea plans to bring 13 Korean Hibakusha to a Mass in the Nagasaki baseball stadium and a meeting in Hiroshima.
On the occasion of this important and unique visit, Pax Christi International’s Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Working Group and the Asia-Pacific Facilitation Group have jointly drafted a statement, which is shared by Pax Christi International in cooperation with our members in Europe, the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region.
The peace movement hopes that the Pope’s visit will help to mobilize Catholic communities to work for nuclear disarmament and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), that the Pope will speak about the importance of the TPNW and the signature and ratification by UN states. Also, we hope Catholic leaders and media will take this as an opportunity to speak about the TPNW and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
In cooperation with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which Pax Christi International is a member, several of our national sections will send a letter to their national bishops’ conferences highlighting the visit and asking for their response.