WCC calls for world without nuclear weapons

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The World Council of Churches has issued a statement calling for an end to nuclear aggression as the world marks this week’s anniversary of the destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


The message, signed by WCC secretary general, Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, just ahead of the August 6th commemoration in Hiroshima, says the God of life calls all of us to take up the cry of the survivors and make certain that a Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombing can never happen again. This year’s anniversary, it adds, needs renewed commitment from the entire world. Current events in Northeast Asia dramatize how much the region and the world still live in the shadow of Hiroshima-style mass destruction.Philippa Hitchen spoke to Rev Fykse Tveit who says countries around the world today are failing to heed the tragic lessons of the past…


Listen: WCC calls for world without nuclear weapons


"Unfortunately we see that what we thought were lessons for ever, are not and we need to repeat the wisdom which history gave us and which the survivors cry to all of us to remember...


I think the way Japan has committed itself to be a nuclear free nation has been a sign for the whole world of what it means to be a victim of the use of nuclear weapons - nobody who has experienced that can use it against anyone else....We, who believe in a God who is giver and sustainer of life, believe that this is against the very purpose of God's creation to use weapons that destroy life in the way nuclear weapons do....and the weapons we have today could destroy much more than those which were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki...


It's a basic cry for life from human beings and all of creation....let us speak this language together with all people of faith, whether Christian or not, but also with all people who hope that we actually can see a world without nuclear weapons in the future...I believe as we, in the World Council of Churches, prepare our assembly in Korea under the theme 'God of life lead us to justice and peace', we really call ourselves as Churches to be in the forefront of those who raise these issues of a need for justice and peace...... I listen also to Pope Francis again raise the call for justice and peace as a Christian voice, a uniting voice for the sake of our common future..."


Please find below the full statement from the WCC to mark the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
A lifetime after their tragedy, the finest tribute to the destroyed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still lies ahead. It is that we achieve the survivors’ hope for all humanity: “No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis.” The God of life calls all of us to take up their tireless cry and make certain that a Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombing can never happen again. This year’s anniversary needs renewed commitment from the entire world.


Current events in Northeast Asia dramatize how much the region and the world still live in the shadow of Hiroshima-style mass destruction. Churches from 140 countries will gather soon in South Korea for the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches under the theme “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace”. Nagasaki and Hiroshima lie just across a strait from Busan, our meeting place. Our hosts will explain the legacy of annihilation including the fate of more than 40,000 Koreans in the two Japanese cities when the atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945.


That legacy today has two old Cold War rivals – North Korea and the USA – still brandishing nuclear weapons, missiles and bombers over the Korean peninsula. The dangerous recent displays demonstrate the failure on both sides to learn from Hiroshima and from war itself.


The legacy includes the recent anniversary of the Korean War. Sixty years after a ceasefire, none of the antagonists have a peace treaty. But every country in Northeast Asia has its own nuclear arms or accepts protection from US nuclear weapons. As Buddhist, Christian and civil society organizations in the region have long advocated, the Korean Peninsula must be freed of nuclear weapons as a cornerstone for any durable peace.


Instead, the region is being subjected to new increases in the already massive US military deployments in East Asia and the Pacific. US arms sales to China’s neighbours, and a military build-up in China, are fuelling global arms production. In the region old disputes over tiny islands are sharpening.

WCC calls for world without nuclear weapons
On this year’s atom bomb anniversary a central pillar of peace in East Asia is in danger. Japan’s new government appears eager to weaken or drop the peace clause in the national constitution. This historic post-1945 commitment forbids Japan to wage war and limits its military forces. The clause is widely appreciated by peace loving people in Japan and its neighbours. Christians and Buddhists in North East Asia insist that it not be changed.


Despite the region’s shaky nuclear instability, Japanese government officials are also airing speculation that Japan could consider developing nuclear weapons for itself. It is hard to imagine a more pointed dismissal of the lessons of 1945.


There is also fresh proof of the dangers of nuclear radiation to colour the atom-bomb observances this year. As churches and others work to help the survivors of the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government has confirmed that massive quantities of radioactive water are seeping into the ocean from the stricken plants each day. Radiation in the area will keep tens of thousands of former residents from ever returning to their homes.


Thankfully, with this anniversary, honest assessments of the grave humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are finally bringing new hope in many countries. Some 80 governments recently issued a joint call to all governments that no nuclear weapon should ever be used again under any circumstances. States that have nuclear weapons, and their allies, are finally being called to greater account.


In an era of increasing global consciousness the abiding lesson of August 1945 is one we can recognize. God’s gift of life is precious beyond measure. We must protect life for the good of all people. Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never happen again.


Vatican Radio
Source: news.va (Aug. 7, 2013)