Will praying prevent another Hiroshima?

The Pope wants people to use an ancient force to combat the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He believes in the power of prayer.

Pope Francis is encouraging Catholics in Japan to designate the period from August 6th, the day Hiroshima was bombed, until August 15th, the day the war ended, as “Ten Days of Prayer for Peace.” 

This practice began in 1982 and is supported by the current Bishop of Nagasaki and President of the Japanese Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Mitsuaki Takami.

Bishop Takami quoted the words Pope John Paul spoke when he visited Hiroshima in 1981.

“War is the work of man. War is the destruction of human life. War is death. To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future… To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war… To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace… Let us promise our fellow human beings that we will work untiringly for disarmament and the banishing of all nuclear weapons” 

I expect some people might think that the use of prayer is a flimsy defence against something as fearful and destructive as atomic or nuclear bombs. 

After all, prayer does not seem to have prevented the government of the United States to recently committing to spend one trillion dollars to upgrading its nuclear warheads. And it seems unlikely that Donald Trump spends much more time in prayer than on Twitter.

Yet could we view it as a miracle that there has been no further use of nuclear weapons since the attacks on the Japanese cities 75 years ago? Is that because of luck?

I believe that prayers for peace do have power. They help us to consider how our words and actions would be viewed by God. 

I’ve met lots of bishops, including some Japanese ones. None of them has ever suggested to me that prayers cast a magic spell of protection around us. So, the fear of another Hiroshima or Nagasaki remains real. But prayer might help us to see the situation in another light and help us think if we can influence the future fate of our world.