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Sun Feb 22, 2015, 10:46 AM


Gods of Metal: Blessing the Bombs.

Blessing the Bombs

George Zabelka

Stopped when the A-bomb hit Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945, this watch belonged to Kengo Futagawa, a 59-year-old who was crossing a bridge 1600 meters from the hypocenter. Horribly burned, Futagawa jumped into the river for relief, and later made his way home, but died on August 22, 1945.

Father George Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing. Days later he counseled an airman who had flown a low-level reconnaissance flight over the city of Nagasaki shortly after the detonation of “Fat Man.” The man described how thousands of scorched, twisted bodies writhed on the ground in the final throes of death, while those still on their feet wandered aimlessly in shock—flesh seared, melted, and falling off. The crewman’s description raised a stifled cry from the depths of Zabelka’s soul: “My God, what have we done?” Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zabelka died in 1992, but his message, in this speech given on the 40th anniversary of the bombings, must never be forgotten.


I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness—for myself, for my country, for my church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation—admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.


As a Catholic chaplain I watched as the Boxcar, piloted by a good Irish Catholic pilot, dropped the bomb on Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the center of Catholicism in Japan. I knew that St. Francis Xavier, centuries before, had brought the Catholic faith to Japan. I knew that schools, churches, and religious orders were annihilated. And yet I said nothing.

Thank God that I’m able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine.

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world—to save our world from complete annihilation.


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Reply Gods of Metal: Blessing the Bombs. (Original post)
stone space Feb 2015 OP
TexasProgresive Feb 2015 #1

Response to stone space (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:25 PM

1. It is ironic that the 2 cities bombed were where most Japanese Christians lived

Urakami Cathedral After the US Atomic Bomb Blast

... in 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the daimyo who unified Japan) decreed a ban on Christianity. This resulted in an incident known as "the execution of the 26 saints". 26 Christians were rounded up in the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai, brought to Nagasaki via an overland route in large two-wheeled wagons, and executed at Nishizaka. This marked the first significant incident of martyrdom in Japan and triggered the period of pervasive persecution and martyrdom that followed.

In 1865, after an interval of about 300 years, a community of descendants of the original Japanese Christians was discovered living in the Urakami district. At the time of the US Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these two cities had the largest Christian populations of any Japanese cities.

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