Copyright: Vatican Media

Hiroshima's Flame of Peace Is Presented to Pope Francis

An Initiative of the “Earth Caravan”

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During the General Audience, on March 20, 2019, Hiroshima’s Flame of Peace was presented to Pope Francis by a group of the “Earth Caravan,” a peaceful initiative, born in 2015, to promote peace and the abolition of nuclear arms, reported Vatican News in Italian.
The Flame comes from ashes of the atomic bomb and has burned continually, since August 6, 1945, as a symbol of peace.
The small delegation that came to the Vatican, was led by the Founder of the “Earth Caravan” project, Buddhist priest Ryokyu Endo, of the Wada Ji Sangha Temple in Japan. Mrs Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb, who received the Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Arms (ICAN), in 2017, accompanied the Founder. In the same group, were five 13-year-old girls of different religions, representing young people’s desire for a future without nuclear arms: Yusa Okada of Nagasaki; Janna Ibrahim of Bethlehem; Manikanet Mestekosho of Mingan, Canada; Yasmine Abouzaglo of Dallas, USA; and Mirjam Schmitzhofer of Vienna, Austria.
Since 2015, the “Earth Caravan” has gone from Nagasaki to Hiroshima, from Auschwitz to Srebrenica, from the first native nations of Canada to Israel and to Palestine. Every year, the prayers and activities of the “Earth Caravan” encourage thousands of people worldwide to work for a better future for all.
An Apostolic Journey to Japan is being studied at present for the month of November. On September 12, 2018, when receiving a delegation of the Japanese Association “Tensho Kenoho Shisetsu Kenshokai,” Pope Francis himself mentioned this trip. “I take advantage of this visit to announce to you my desire to go to Japan next year. Let’s hope that this can be done.”
The Holy Father was invited officially to go to Japan by the Prime Minister, Shizo Abe, in June of 2014. On May 2, 2018, the Mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue sent Pope Francis a letter signed by him and by the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, inviting him to go to their two cities, hit by atomic bombs in August 1945. In fact, for the year 2018 the Pontiff chose as greeting card the photo of a Japanese youth carrying his dead small brother on his back, victim of the bomb of Nagasaki. On the back of the card the Pope wrote: “the fruit of war.”
Jorge Mario Bergoglio has always had the desire to go to Japan. On March 11, 1958, at 22, when he decided to enter the Society of Jesus, he dreamt of going there as a missionary. However, at the end of his novitiate, his request was refused given his respiratory problems. Years later, in 1973, as Provincial of the Jesuits in the Argentine, he received the Superior General of the Society, Father Pedro Arrupe, who himself was a missionary in Japan for a long time: he also survived, without after effects, the bomb of August 6, 1945, with his novices. A Doctor by profession, Father Arrupe organized with them help for the population, trying to relieve as much as possible the abominable sufferings.

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