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The Catholic anti-nuclear protest at the White House on August 9 (OSV News/Kate Scanlon)

Catholics marked the 78th anniversary of the United States’ 1945 atomic bombings in Japan with calls for nuclear disarmament, prayers for peace and a protest at the White House. Source: OSV News.

The Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House gathered about three dozen protesters for a vigil outside the White House on August 9 to mark the occasion with prayer, and to call on the US, the only nation that has used such weapons in war, to lead the way to a world where they are never again used. The group held a similar demonstration outside the Pentagon on August 6.

A “litany of repentance” prayed in front of the White House included songs and laying roses on pictures of victims and survivors.

During World War II, the US used nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Those bombings marked the first – and to date, only – use of atomic weapons in war. Tens of thousands of people were killed in each of the initial explosions, and still more died from radiation poisoning in the following years. On August 10, 1945, the Japanese government signalled its intent to accept the Allied terms of surrender, with their formal surrender taking place September 2, 1945.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the US atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities are estimated to have killed between 110,000-210,000 people.

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which went into effect in 2021, made nuclear weapons illegal under international law, but it is largely symbolic, as the nuclear states, including the US and Russia, have not ratified it.

Pope Francis and the Holy See have embraced the UN treaty and the pontiff has said that “the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral.”


Catholics mark 78th anniversary of atomic bombings with calls for nuclear disarmament (By Kate Scanlon, OSV News via Catholic Review)