In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the first of two atomic bombs dropped during World War II, Pope Francis sent a special letter to the Governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yusaki.

In his letter, he offered his “cordial greetings to the organizers and participants in the seventy-fifth solemn anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and in a special way to the hibakusha survivors of the original tragedy.”

He also wrote how felt “privileged” to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in November of last year during his papal visit to Japan.

“Just as I came to Japan as a pilgrim of peace last year, so I continue to hold in my heart the longing of the peoples of our time, especially of young people, who thirst for peace and make sacrifices for peace. I carry too the cry of the poor, who are always among the first victims of violence and conflict.”

He echoed the call he made during his visit for nuclear disarmament, saying it has never “been clearer that, for peace to flourish, all people need to lay down the weapons of war, and especially the most powerful and destructive of weapons: nuclear arms that can cripple and destroy whole cities, whole countries.”

Closing his letter, he expressed his pastoral closeness to the ‘bomb-affected-people’ referred to as hibakusha, saying he hopes their “prophetic voices … continue to serve as a warning to us and for coming generations! To them, and to all who work for reconciliation, we make the words of the psalmist our own: ‘For love of my brethren and friends, I say: Peace upon you!’ (Ps 122:8).”

For all those who celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis “willingly invoked abundant divine blessings.”

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