Let’s Talk about Nukes
August 6 marks the 77th anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima by the United States. According to Alliance for Science, “A total of 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 73,000 in Nagasaki died instantly or within five months of the bombing due to the nuclear blast, intense radiant heat from the fireball and ionizing radiation.” Thousands more died later or were severely burned from the affects of the blast. Those that survived experienced much higher rates of cancer than in other areas.
As of 2021, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons reports there are 13,080 nuclear weapons within nine countries. Russia has the most with the U.S. close behind. The other seven each control between 50 to 350 nuclear bombs. “It is estimated that one bomb dropped on New York City would result in over 500,000 deaths.” The urgency of addressing the need for worldwide nuclear disarmament has now been heightened by the Ukrainian/Russian war and the rhetoric of Vladimir Putin suggesting the possible use of nuclear weapons in this war.
Archbishop John Wester of the Santa Fe archdiocese has taken a leading role in pointing out that “we can no longer deny or ignore the extremely dangerous predicament of our human family.” “We are in a new nuclear arms race far more dangerous than the first,” Wester said Jan. 11 during an online news conference to introduce his pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament”. The Archbishop’s letter urges the local community and the world to join “a renewed commitment to the cause of peace with the goal of eliminating all global nuclear weapons arsenals.”
I think we’ve been lulled into a false sense of complacency. I think it’s important as the archbishop of Santa Fe that I say something, that the archdiocese has a seat at the table on this discussion, because this is the birthplace of the nuclear bomb.Archbishop John Wester
The archbishop states that his visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki led him to believe it important that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe take an active part in encouraging this dialogue because two of the country’s three nuclear weapons research facilities and the largest U.S. repository of nuclear armaments are located at Kirtland Air Force Base within the archdiocese. To start this dialogue in his archdiocese, the archbishop will commemorate the anniversary of the bombings on Aug. 9, 2022 with a Mass followed by a panel of interfaith leaders discussing the need for nuclear disarmament.
The Loretto Peace Committee is encouraging the Loretto Community to renew its awareness and commitment to working toward peace and nuclear disarmament by reading or rereading “Hiroshima” by John Hersey in book study groups. It is a story of devastation but also a story of resilience and hope.