Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cardinal Ask: Was Nagasaki Bombed Because of It's Catholic Presence?

The Rome based Chiesa has a very interesting article called Nagasaki, the City of the Atomic Bomb – And of the Christian Martyrs. In it they go into the memoirs of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi that just hit bookstores. He asks a very provocative question:
"We can certainly assume that the atomic bombs were not dropped at random. So the question is inevitable: why is it that for the second slaughter, out of all the possibilities, that very city of Japan was chosen where Catholicism, apart from having its most glorious history, was also the most widespread and firmly established?"

Let me say I am very comfortable in saying the United States Govt did not drop the bomb on Nagasaki because of its Catholic presence. There is no evidence of that what so ever. It appears sadly though that the Catholic aspect of the city did not enter the discussion for targeting choices. That is not to say a "Catholic" life was worth more than a non Catholic life. However it is well known that certain potential targets were taken off the list after military leaders intervened. Such as Kyoto. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson struck Kyoto from the list because of its cultural significance.

It should also be remembered that as late as the day of the bombing Nagasaki was a secondary target. Kokura was the primary target but because of cloud cover they had orders to bomb Nagasaki.

Still the article is very interesting because it shows the Catholic presence of this city. Also might we ask this question? Though controversial to be sure one wonders if the bombing of the most Christian City in Japan is not some type of Martyrdom. That Catholic deaths in fact in the plan of the almighty might have more significance.

The issue of the atomic bombing of these cities will always be important moral question that we must grapple with. David Armstrong, noted Catholic Apologist, makes the argument that it can not be justified. His set of links are located here. I do not wish to rehash that specific debate. However some on Mr Armstrong's' site he has a few links with information that makes one pause. At this link he brings together further thoughts of the Catholic aspect of this city. Some quotes that strike me:
Fat Man exploded directly above the Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki. The city was the historical center of Catholicism in Japan and contained about a tenth of the entire Catholic population. The cathedral was filled with worshipers who had gathered to pray for a speedy and just end to the war. It is said their prayers included a petition to offer themselves, if God so willed it, in reparation for the evils perpetrated by their country.

Now that is quite stunning if true and makes one pause. Is this fable? I think it is safe to say no one survived that day that was present in that Church. However this is coming from somewhere
Even more stunning:
It is ironic that this most Catholic of Japanese centers should have been targeted for the second atomic bomb of 1945.
One of the original martyrs executed at Nagasaki in 1597 was a Mexican-born Franciscan friar, canonized in 1862 as St. Philip of Jesus. As he was about to die on his cross, he is reported to have foretold that one day Nagasaki would be destroyed by “a ball of fire dropping from the sky.”
His Japanese enemies no doubt sneered at the warning then, but we have seen it tragically fulfilled

Is this truth or fable? I would love to find some pre bombing documentation of this quote or that this story was indeed in existence before the bombing of Nagasaki.

--Father Robert F. McNamara

So who knows. The ways of God are indeed mysterious.

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