Each year, we remember the horrific events of August 6 and August 9, 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only time nuclear weapons have been used against human targets.
For 78 years, the earth and its inhabitants have lived under the threat of nuclear destruction. Trillions of dollars have gone into their development and maintenance, while actual human needs of shelter, health care, food, and education are deeply underfunded.
From its founding in 1945 in the aftermath of World War II, Pax Christi has prioritized the work of nuclear disarmament. The Pax Christi International secretariat is a proud member of the Nobel Peace-prize awardee International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons.
As Pope Francis said in his June 2022 message to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, “Nuclear weapons are a costly and dangerous liability. They represent a ‘risk multiplier’ that provides only an illusion of a ‘peace of sorts.’ Here, I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral. Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror,’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue. Possession leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.”
The Pax Christi USA nuclear disarmament working group invites you to consider organizing a prayer service or other commemorative event in your area this year, and offers several new resources in 2023 for your use as you plan your activities. This list will be updated in the coming weeks.
- Our Prayer-Study-Action email for the Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemorations
- Novena for nuclear disarmament, created by Pax Christi Maine and repurposed for the Archdioceses of Santa Fe and Seattle’s pilgrimage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 2023
- Prayer for the end of the 40-day fast for Christian nonviolence, prepared by Rosemarie Pace, Pax Christi New York
- The Clinton Franciscans offer this new interactive quiz designed to raise awareness about the critical issue of nuclear weapons proliferation across the globe.
- Nuclear arms race PDF
- NuclearBan.US offers “Warheads to Windmills” reports
- Wester says New Mexico has to lead on nuclear disarmament (July 16, 2023, Santa Fe New Mexican)
- “Oppenheimer”: What you need to know before watching [International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)]
- “Oppenheimer” is a pitch-dark American nightmare. We cannot look away, a movie review written by Pax Christi Young Adult Caucus member Ryan Di Corpo for America magazine
- Pax Christi USA executive director Johnny Zokovitch spoke to Our Sunday Visitor for this article about “Oppenheimer”: ‘Oppenheimer’ gives Catholics opportunity to explain injustice of nuclear weapons (Florida Catholic)
- The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has several articles related to “Oppenheimer” in its July 2023 issue
- Use this link to find a compilation of pop culture responses to nuclear weapons. (Thanks to Nick Mele for his work on this.)
Find additional resources for observing these commemorations at the following links:
- Prayer service for Hiroshima Day adapted and designed by Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi New York
- Pastoral letter from Archbishop John C. Wester calling for nuclear disarmament (available for purchase in hard copy here)
- The Risk of the Cross: Living Gospel nonviolence in the nuclear age, written by Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Art Laffin. Designed for small group reflection and discussion.
- A prayer for nuclear disarmament
- “Nuclear Weapons Are Illegal” banner
- Resources from our 75th anniversary commemorations in 2020
- Additional resources on nuclear disarmament
HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI COMMEMORATIONS 2023
(To add your event, send the info to Lauren Bailey, Pax Christi USA National Field Organizer, at email@example.com)
Bangor ME/Pax Christi Greater Bangor
Saturday, August 5, 10-11:30 AM Eastern – Pax Christi Greater Bangor along with the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine invites you and your community to gather together as people of faith and conscience at Davenport Park, 245 Main Street, Bangor ME for a second annual interfaith prayer vigil for nuclear disarmament and Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration which will include prayers, reflections, music and periods of silence with bells rung to mark the close of our witness.
As faith leaders and persons wholeheartedly committed to peace and justice, we bring an important voice to our community. Let us commemorate the 78th anniversary of the horrific bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by coming together to call for nuclear disarmament, to pray for peace, to act for peace and to further the creation of a world committed to nonviolence.
We encourage you to speak and offer prayers, share reflections from your faith tradition, from your community. Contact Mary Ellen Quinn by August 1 if you wish to speak or share prayers and/or reflections, or if you have any questions. You are welcome to bring banners identifying your congregations and communities. Please bring chairs and umbrellas if rain is forecast.
NEW YORK CITY/Pax christi Metro New York
Saturday, August 5, noon-12:30 PM Eastern – Pax Christi Metro New York invites you to join in prayer and public witness on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gather at the Gandhi statue on the west side of Union Square Park near 14th Street. Use this link to read more at the Pax Christi Metro New York website.
Reston VA and online/Pax Christi St. John Neumann
Saturday, August 5, 4 PM Eastern – Pax Christi St. John Neumann (PCSJN) is holding a prayer vigil commemorating the atomic bombings and praying for the abolition of nuclear weapons. To be held in Rooms A2/A3 at St. John Neumann Church in Reston, VA, and via Zoom. We’ll pray the Scriptural Rosary for Justice and Peace, reflect on God’s word in Scripture, and offer our prayer intentions. Contact PCSJN Coordinator Bob More, firstname.lastname@example.org, for details or for the Zoom link.
Old Tappan NJ/Pax Christi New Jersey
Sunday, August 6, noon Eastern – Pax Christi New Jersey invites all to a special Mass in remembrance of Hiroshima, to be celebrated by Bishop Michael Saporito. Mass will be followed by coffee and donuts provided by parishioners of St. Pius X. St. Pius X Church, 268 Old Tappan Road, Old Tappan NJ.
Jamestown RI/Pax christi Rhode Island
Sunday, August 6, noon Eastern – Join peace activists in the Jamestown, RI area in calling for our government to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to negotiate an end to the nuclear stalemate with Russia and other nations. Meet at East Ferry Memorial Square, Narragansett and Conanicus Avenues, Jamestown, RI. For information contact: William Smith III (Pax Christi Rhode Island), 401-423-0433, email@example.com; Marcie Lindsay, 401-787-2730, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Springfield MA/Pax Christi Massachusetts
Sunday, August 6, 2:30 PM Eastern – Annual interfaith Hiroshima Day, co-sponsored by Greater Springfield Campaign Nonviolence, Pax Christi Massachusetts, JustFaith Ministries, and the Agape Community.
- Dramatic reading of: “Original Child Bomb” by Thomas Merton
- Keynote address: Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons/Back from the Brink/H.Res.77: Dr. Ira Helfand, PSR, IPPNW, ICAN
- Presentation: Jesse Lederman, Springfield City Council President
- Prayers for peace
The event will be held outdoors, rain or shine. Bring a lawn chair. For more information, contact Deacon Bill Toller (413) 478-5201. To be held at Springfield City Hall, 36 Court Street, Springfield, MA.
Baltimore MD/Prevent Nuclear War-Maryland
Sunday, August 6, 6 PM Eastern – A nuclear war awareness town hall will be held in the 7th Congressional District (Rep. Kweisi Mfume’s district) at Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles Street, Baltimore 21218. It will start at 6 PM with an outdoor commemoration vigil and then will move inside. Around 7 PM participants will be informed of Baltimore’s long history of antinuclear weapons endeavors. Organizations will be encouraged to make a statement about the threat created by these weapons of mass destruction.
Arlington VA/Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
Monday, August 7, 7 AM Eastern – The Dorothy Day Catholic Worker invites all to join them for their weekly prayerful vigil at the southeast side of the Pentagon. The gathering on Aug. 7 will focus on Hiroshima. Contact Art Laffin for more information: email@example.com.
Washington DC/Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
Wednesday, August 9, noon Eastern – The Dorothy Day Catholic Worker invites all to join them for their annual commemoration of Nagasaki, to be held on the north side of the White House. Contact Art Laffin for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Kingstown RI/Pax Christi Rhode Island
Wednesday, August 9, noon Eastern – Pax Christi Rhode Island will hold banners protesting nuclear weapons at the Shoppes at Quonset Point, 84 Gate Rd, North Kingstown, RI 02852. Quonset is home to General Dynamics/Electric boat where since 1974 major submarine components are manufactured. The rosary will be recited as we pray for the ratification of the TPNW and an end to nuclear weapons.
Baltimore MD/Prevent Nuclear War-Maryland
Wednesday, August 9, 6 PM Eastern – A nuclear war awareness town hall will be held in the 2nd Congressional District (Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger) at First & St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, 6915 York Road, Baltimore 21212. It will start at 6 PM with a commemoration vigil outside the church. Once inside, around 7 PM participants will be informed about all of the activities taking place to confront the threat of a nuclear war.
ONLINE (Zoom)/Vietnam Peace commemoration committee
Wednesday, August 9, 7 PM Eastern – “Remembering Dan Ellsberg, nonviolent activist.” Since Dan Ellsberg’s passing, dozens of news stories and commentaries have focused primarily on his role as whistleblower and the impact of his courageous release of the Pentagon Papers. Missing from these accounts has been an appreciation of the decades of Dan’s active engagement in antiwar and antinuclear campaigns, in which he was arrested more than 80 times. On August 9, the 78th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki, fellow activists will share anecdotes about Dan’s participation in a wide variety of anti-nuclear and antiwar campaigns. The objective is both to document this part of Dan’s life and to inspire others with his example. Speakers will include Patricia Ellsberg, Dan’s wife, and Bob Eaton, a draft resister who inspired Dan’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers. Additional information is available here. Register here.
Washington DC/Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
Saturday, August 12, 10 AM Eastern – Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore (PCMDCB) is teaming up with Consistent Life Network and Rehumanize International for a vigil in front of the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) calling for nuclear disarmament. Everyone is welcome. Contact PCMDCB co-chairperson Bob Cooke, email@example.com, for details.