A Voice in the Wilderness

I had never heard of Father George Zabelka until this evening. Father Zabelka, a Roman Catholic priest, was the military chaplain for the 509 Composite Group in World War II. The 509 Composite Group was the unit ordered to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Here is a part of an interview that Father George gave in 1980:

“To fail to speak to the utter moral corruption of the mass destruction of civilians was to fail as a Christian and a priest as I see it….I was there, and I’ll tell you that the operational moral atmosphere in the church in relation to mass bombing of enemy civilians was totally indifferent, silent, and corrupt at best – at worst it was religiously supportive of these activities by blessing those who did them….Catholics dropped the A-bomb on top of the largest and first Catholic city in Japan. One would have thought that I, as a Catholic priest, would have spoken out against the atomic bombing of nuns. (Three orders of Catholic sisters were destroyed in Nagasaki that day.) One would would have thought that I would have suggested that as a minimal standard of Catholic morality, Catholics shouldn’t bomb Catholic children. I didn’t. I, like the Catholic pilot of the Nagasaki plane, “The Great Artiste,” was heir to a Christianity that had for seventeen hundred years engaged in revenge, murder, torture, the pursuit of power, and prerogative violence, all in the name of the Lord.

The ruins of Urakami Cathedral

“I walked through the ruins of Nagasaki right after the war and visited the place where once stood the Urakami Cathedral. I picked up a piece of censer from the rubble. When I look at it today I pray God forgives us for how we have distorted Christ’s teaching and destroyed his world by the distortion of that teaching. I was the Catholic chaplain who was there when this grotesque process that began with Constantine reached its lowest point – so far.”

Wow. Just a few facts. Nagasaki was home to some of the earliest Christians in Japan. Their cathedral, the Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki was completely destroyed on August 9, 1945. The church was full of worshipers for the Catholic holy day of the Assumption of Mary.

3 thoughts on “A Voice in the Wilderness

  1. Thank you. We can never, ever allow this to be done again. The injuries and deaths extend far beyond the physical, to the very souls of all the survivors on both sides.

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