By Mary DeTurris Poust
"Haunting" is how Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York described the fractured and scarred piece of sculpture (above) known as Our Lady of Nagasaki. It came from a village outside Nagasaki, left in this condition by the atomic blast that killed 75,000 there in 1945. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki of Nagasaki brought the head to St. Patrick's Cathedral and to the United Nations, where he called for an end to all nuclear weapons.
From Archbishop Dolan's post on his blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age:
"And it is this head that is haunting: she is scarred, singed badly, and her crystal eyes were melted by the hellish blast. So, all that remains are two empty, blackened sockets.The statue is haunting -- and somewhat hard to look at because I find myself staring at the stone face and thinking about the flesh and blood men, women and children who suffered a much worse fate that same day. Nothing is left of them. Maybe that's why this piece of Mary survived, to give us pause and make us consider the options.
"I’ve knelt before many images of the Mother of Jesus before: our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Pieta, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, just to name a few.
"But I’ve never experienced the dread and revulsion I did when the archbishop showed us the head of Our Lady of Nagasaki …
"It’s May, the month we traditionally devote to her, our blessed Mother.
"She absorbs our sorrows, our worries, our sickness, our fears, like any good mother would. She brings them — and us — to the only one who can do anything about them: Jesus.
"At Nagasaki, she absorbed the radiation, incinerating heat, the suffering of her children."
Related to that, if you have not read it, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, former head of the Archdiocese for Military Services, recently urged ratification of the START Treaty, which will reduce nuclear arsenals in both Russia and the United States, calling it a "step in the right direction."
In his address, "Moral Reflections on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy," delivered at a symposium on the ethics of the Obama Administration’s nuclear weapons policy, held last month at The Catholic University of America, Archbishop O'Brien said:
"In a moral analysis of nuclear weapons policies and programs, it is important to start with the end and work backwards. The moral end is clear: a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons. This goal should guide our efforts. Every nuclear weapons system and every nuclear weapons policy should be judged by the ultimate goal of protecting human life and dignity and the related goal of ridding the world of these weapons in mutually verifiable ways...To read Archbishop O'Brien's full address, click HERE.
"It will not be easy. Nuclear weapons can be dismantled, but both the human knowledge and the technical capability to build weapons cannot be erased. A world with zero nuclear weapons will need robust measures to monitor, enforce and verify compliance. The path to zero will be long and treacherous. But humanity has a moral obligation to walk this path with both care and courage."