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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops renew nuclear disarmament call as 1945 bombing anniversary approaches

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In this 2018 file photo, peace activists hold a Catholic prayer service of repentance near the White House for the use of nuclear weapons on Japan during World War II. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945. Nagasaki was hit three days later. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON — Members of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ committee renewed a long-standing call for nuclear disarmament as the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities neared.

The Committee on International Justice and Peace, chaired by Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, also urged the world community and parishioners to pray for the goal of disarmament, especially during Masses Aug. 9.

The call came in a statement released July 13. The bombings of Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, the center of Japan’s Catholic community, three days later led to the end of World War II.

The eight committee members and two bishop consultants echoed Pope Francis, who during a visit in November to Nagasaki said, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere.”

They also cited the pope’s words in urging the world to undertake a “joint and concerted” effort to end the threat nuclear weapons pose to life on earth by building mutual trust and “thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”

The statement expressed concern for “geopolitical conflicts with state and nonstate actors, increasingly sophisticated weapons and the erosion of international arms control frameworks” as threats to world peace.

“The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. The church in the U.S. proclaims her clarion call and humble prayer for peace in our world which is God’s gift through the salvific sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” the statement said.

The bishops concluded the statement by saying, “Fear, distrust and conflict must be supplanted by our joint commitment, by faith and in prayer, that peace and justice reign now and forever.”

The statement was accompanied by a set of resources, including prayers, study guides and action steps that are available online at www.usccb.org/nuclear.

The members of the USCCB Committee for International Justice and Peace are: Bishops Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania; Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida; and Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi; retired Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York; Coadjutor Bishop Alberto Rojas of San Bernardino, California; and Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon.

The committee’s bishop-consultants are Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut.