|‘Bombed Mary’ – statue salvaged from ruins of Nagasaki Cathedral|
The Catholic Church in Japan has submitted a petition of 16,000 signatures to the prime minister calling for immediate strict limitations and an eventual ban on nuclear arms. They also plan to display a statue of the Virgin Mary which survived the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura of Osaka led a delegation to personally present the petition, appealing for governments to “strive proactively for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” to deputy chief cabinet secretary Yorihisa Matsuno on April 19.
One aim of the petition is to send a message, via the Japanese government, to the president of the United States, demanding nuclear arms be “limited solely to deterring the use of nuclear weapons by others.”
The petition further asks the government to press the leaders of all nations, to “unite in taking an unambiguous step toward nuclear disarmament” at the UN 2010 Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to be held in New York on 3 May.
The content of the petition was drawn from a February open letter from Archbishop Takami and Bishop Atsumi Misue of Hiroshima to US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and other world leaders.
To reinforce their message, Archbishop Takami said he intends to display the “Bombed Mary” statue and meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York during the review conference. The statue is an important artifact, recovered from the ruins of what is now Urakami Cathedral after the nuclear attack on Nagasaki.
At a press conference at his residence in Nagasaki on April 13, the archbishop said exhibiting the statue in New York is his attempt “as the archbishop of a land devastated by nuclear weapons” to add his voice to those around the world calling for disarmament, and to make those voices heard more loudly.
This is a deeply personal issue for the archbishop, who lost many relatives in the attack on Nagasaki. The archbishop was born in Nagasaki in March 1946, and so could be considered a “pre-natal” bomb survivor. He strongly decries both the production of nuclear weapons and any future repetition of the tragedies associated with their use in war.
Through the “Bombed Maria” statue, Archbishop Takami said he hopes to convey both “the tragedy and inhumanity of the nuclear bomb” as well as the importance of “continuing to work together in unity” toward happiness, “interacting not on the basis of weaponry but through dialogue and mutual understanding.”
Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.
Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops