Bombs away

Posted by Dan Grippo
Monday 08, March 2010 | Category:  

The Roman Catholic bishops of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities to have endured war-time nuclear bombings, are urging world leaders to abolish nuclear weapons, reports Ecumenical News International.

Nagasaki Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami and Hiroshima Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue released a joint statement on February 26 ahead of a nuclear security summit scheduled for April in Washington, D.C. and a review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York City in May. Last week a group of nine churches in Britain launched a similar campaign that calls on the British Government to make a commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, thereby building a safer future for all.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. dropped a nuclear weapon on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of another one over Nagasaki on August 9. These are the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.

Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.

The role of the bombings in Japan's surrender and the U.S.'s ethical justification for them is still debated. How do you feel about the use of nuclear weapons? Can they be justified in this case or in any case?

As you ponder this moral question, you may find it helpful to refer to the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on War and Peace.

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