US Catholic Faith in Real Life

WWJD on nukes? Repent and abolish them

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

August 6 does double duty as the feast of the Transfiguration and the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (with Nagasaki on Aug 9). Nuclear disarmament has been back in the news lately, with President Obama calling on the world to abandon nukes; the archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O'Brien, who is also the former archbishop for the U.S. armed services, called for the same at the end of the last month, echoing the 1983 U.S. bishops' pastoral letter on peace.

Disarmament is one thing, repentance is another. The U.S. is the only country to have ever actually used nukes--twice on civilian populations, once using the Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki as the target (it had a shiny dome). Such actions were condemned by the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes--and I wish we Americans could bring ourselves to admit that it was just as wrong in 1945 as it is now.

No surprise attack, no claim of saving lives by avoiding invasion, no amount of atrocities committed by the other side can ever justify the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations in Catholic moral teaching.

But do we have the stomach to ask forgiveness? There are, after all, some survivors left.