HIROSHIMA, Japan (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis ended his visit to Japan on Tuesday, and some relatives of World War II veterans are viewing his remarks at Nagasaki and Hiroshima as anti-American.
The pope's own stated purpose for his visit to Japan, titled "Protect All Life," was mainly to promote nuclear disarmament.
The pope addressed a crowd of several hundred gathered at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima on Monday: "Here, in an incandescent burst of lightning and fire, so many men and women, so many dreams and hopes, disappeared, leaving behind only shadows and silence."
"Yet all were united in the same fate, in a terrifying hour that left its mark forever not only on the history of this country, but on the face of humanity," he added.
The pontiff explained that he felt a duty to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima "as a pilgrim of peace" and to bring with him "the cry of the poor who are always the most helpless victims of hatred and conflict."
"It is my humble desire to be the voice of the voiceless, who witness with concern and anguish the growing tensions of our own time," the pope said. "The unacceptable inequalities and injustices that threaten human co-existence, the grave inability to care for our common home, and the constant outbreak of armed conflict, as if these could guarantee a future of peace."
Official song and choreography for the pope's Japan visit
Church Militant spoke with relatives of World War II (WWII) veterans who preferred to remain anonymous.
One relative of WWII veterans said:
Pope Francis, I don't think anyone 74 years after the nuclear bombs were used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima would disagree with you. The deaths wrought by the use of these bombs was one of the most flagrant evils of the Second World War, but there were many other great evils wrought in this War. Millions killed in Hitler's camps in Europe ― even more millions killed outright by the Japanese in their aggressive assaults against their enemies in the Far East, the Chinese, Australians, Filipinos, Americans and on and on.
WWII, like all wars before it, had many immoral acts, committed by many immoral individuals, from many nations, and nationalities. Why pick on just the Americans for their actions in WWII? If other than just to grandstand in front of a friendly audience. America's use of two nuclear bombs, in the end, finally ended the insanity that was the Second World War.
The Holy Father should know better than this, taking cheap shots against America and America's role in the West after WWII. Where would this world be today?
Another, Michael, told Church Militant about his father, Frank, who was on the USS LST-510 on D-Day.
He recounted that his father said dropping the atomic bombs was horrific, but that the loss of life would have been far greater had the United States continued to fight Japan. The death toll for Americans and Japanese would have been astronomically higher.
"One of my uncles, William, fought in Germany for the duration of the war and experienced gruesome horrors. He suffered for the remainder of his life from the war," said another individual.
"He was a softspoken and good man who saw his friend split in two by machine gun fire right next to him ― and that was only one of the stories I heard," he continued. "He suffered severe shell shock [PTSD] and had such awful frostbite on his feet from sleeping in foxholes that his feet bled at night for the rest of his life."
"Is the Pope a voice for this now voiceless soldier and good man who loved God, family, and country?"
One daughter recalled that her father, Mort, was sent to Okinawa at the age of 19 in the final year of the war.
Mort was uncertain if dropping the atomic bombs was the best moral option, but he was certain that it ended the war with Japan. He was happy that the war was over and that he "got to go home."
Towards the end of his remarks, the pope talked about globalization and a common future.
"Our world," he said, "interconnected not only by globalization but by the very earth we have always shared, demands, today more than ever, that interests exclusive to certain groups or sectors be left to one side, in order to achieve the greatness of those who struggle co-responsibly to ensure a common future."
An official song was prepared and performed by the Dreamers Union Choir for the papal visit to Japan, along with an official video, a video demonstrating the official choreography that accompanies the song, an instrumental version and a lead sheet.
The lyrics center on the theme of the Pope's visit "Protect All Life":
Beyond our woven paths, what is it that we can leave for the future?
If there is suffering one shall simply aid and comfort.
Let your cry ring for this miracle that brings us together will make all voices known.
We protect all life (3x)
Protect this world 'cause we are the one
Protejamos toda la vida (3x)
Protect all life with the power of love
We all walk a lonely uphill path, facing endless challenges along the way.
Even when defeat is near, a guiding light will always shine the way.
In this life we share, my prayer is said for you. These binding hands shall never let you go.
Michael said, "This Kumbaya stuff sounds nice, but it is not reality."