Human Society is Not Built by Destroying the...

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Papal Message for Commemorative Concert given August 5, 1995

"To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace" (Peace Appeal in Hiroshima, 25 February 1981, AAS 73 (1981), 417; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 9 March 1981, p. 14). At the concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tragic event of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I would like to repeat these words which I spoke in Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Park in 1981.

May the memory of those terrible atomic explosions, which occurred in August 1945, remain indelible in the mind of humanity! The enormous loss of human lives they caused cannot be forgotten. Those deadly, firey explosions have become the symbol of all the suffering and destruction which the Second World War brought to families, nations and creation in so many parts of the world.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrate the incredible destructive power which man and modern science are able to produce.

Its memory has lingered like a nightmare in the conscience of humanity, which is now aware of what a nuclear war would mean to our civilization. Thus, for the leaders of peoples, that most tragic event has become a severe warning to reject the influence of the arms race and unswervingly commit ourselves to guaranteeing peaceful coexistence among nations.

Nevertheless, if we recall that tragedy today, it is above all to "renew our faith" and "to turn disaster into a new beginning" (ibid.). It is in human hearts that war or reconciliation begins. A peaceful future is built on the basis of a "new heart", a heart able to recognize in every individual person a brother or sister with equal dignity to respect, with fundamental rights to promote, with legitimate expectations to satisfy. The new heart looks at others, persons or peoples, as a living reality to be accepted, supported and loved.

As I cordially greet all those who have appropriately wished to join in this commemoration by radio and television, I invoke the Lord's mercy for victims of every act of violence and war. In this perspective, today's event is an invitation to a moment of silence, as we face the cry of those who suffered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki 50 years ago, and of those who still suffer today. This event is also an appeal, in the name of what profoundly unites all humanity, to the consciences of those who are still promoting and implementing strategies of war. "A society worthy of the person is not built by destroying the person, by repression and by discrimination. This lesson of the Second World War has not yet been learned completely and in all quarters, and yet it remains and must stand as a warning for the next millennium" (Message on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe, n. 7).

We implore from the God of Peace the gift of conversion of heart for everyone, an indispensable premise for all sincere reconciliation and for the strengthening of an honourable, lasting peace.

With these wishes, I convey my greetings to the concert's organizers, the performers and all those in attendance, as I cordially impart my Blessing to all.

From Castel Gandolfo, 5 August 1995.


Pope John Paul II

August 6, 1995

Once again I would like to recall the tragic events which, with the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 50 years ago, have dramatically marked our century's history.

Weighing on humanity's conscience like a nightmare, the memory of those deadly blasts of fire have become the eloquent symbol of all suffering and destruction.

But has humanity learned the sad lesson of those sorrowful events?

Today, unfortunately, I also have to share with you my deep concern about the tragic developments of the situation in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

It had been hoped that the latest negotiations in Geneva would have enabled bridges to be built on the way to peace. Unfortunately, words have given way to arms.

Let us pray intensely that no one will resign himself to this situation. May honest and persevering dialogue not be stifled by violence! Every effort must be made to avoid new human tragedies!

This is the prayer I address with you to the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
9-16 August 1995, p. 1.

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