PeaceWorks Kansas City

Mobile Menu
Close this search box.

Hiroshima bishop addresses pilgrims

Ann Suellentrop shares portions of a talk by the Hiroshima bishop to her and others in the Pax Christi pilgrimage to Japan.
The Hiroshima bishop shares a meal with the Pax Christi pilgrims.--Photos by Ann Suellentrop

By Ann Suellentrop

Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks Kansas City shares portions of the talk by the Hiroshima bishop to Ann and other US pilgrims to Japan.
This case holds Bishop Shirahama’s favorite items, including an icon of Dorothy Day atop the case, a gift from the Pax Christi Pilgrims.

Ann Suellentrop, a vice chair of the PeaceWorks Board, shares portions of a talk the Hiroshima bishop gave to the Pax Christi pilgrims to Japan, including Ann.

On Sunday, March 10, we went to a Catholic Mass celebrated by Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama, leader of the diocese of Hiroshima and surrounding areas. The service was arranged by Sister Filo Hiroto, and on the day before, the bishop treated us to a meal. Here are parts of the bishop’s homily during the Mass.

Bishop Shirahama told us Pax Christi pilgrims: “Pope John Paul II said this during his 1981 Hiroshima Peace Park visit, ‘Looking back at the past means taking responsibility for the future.’ By looking back at the past and acknowledging our mistakes, we can begin to take new steps toward the future. … I am living in a community of six people, including two foreign priests. We work together to wash the dishes after meals. But a week ago, after cleaning up after breakfast, one of the foreign priests started wiping the wall behind the chair where I usually sit. I have been using this dining hall for 7 1/2 half years now. However, the foreign priest who started wiping down the wall has been using this cafeteria for less than a year. Seeing his action, I was surprised and felt ashamed that my mind had become so careless that I could not even notice that the walls of the dining hall I use every day had become dirty. I was seated with my back to that wall at the time of the meal. I was made keenly aware of the importance of looking backwards and into the past in order to change my careless mind.

“Pax Christi members from the United States are visiting the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to meet directly with the hibakusha, atomic bomb victims, even if only at the citizen level, to express their apology for the August 1945 atomic bombings by the US military, and to expand dialogues for reconciliation.

 “The nuclear weapons currently possessed by the nuclear powers are thousands of times more destructive than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, capable of destroying, in an instant, human life and the earth, the home of all life. It is clear that true peace cannot be created by nuclear weapons. … The enemy that man must fight is not the people of other nations, but the sin of our hearts and the carelessness of our minds. … We Japanese must look back and apologize for the mistake of the former Japanese military who raided Pearl Harbor in Hawaii that started the Pacific War, as well as the great mistake of spreading the devastating damage caused by the war with other countries. In order for us to bear the responsibility for these past mistakes, we must not only not repeat wars, but as the A-bombed nation, we must also continue to call for the prevention of the horrific war crimes that they caused. … We welcome the Pax Christi Pilgrims from the United States who have come to express their apology for the atomic bombings and to expand dialogue for reconciliation.” 

The Pax Christi pilgrims came to the altar and formally presented their apology for the 1945 bombings.

Related Stories

"We welcome the pilgrims who have come to express their apology for the atomic bombings and to expand dialogue for reconciliation.”
Man hanging origame peace cranes.