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On the occasion of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 27 May, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit sent greetings, noting that this is a time when signs of peace and justice are sorely needed.

“We pray that you will be able to talk with the aging survivors of the atomic bombing – the hibakusha – who live to tell their story in the determined hope that no one will ever again suffer their fate,” Tveit wrote. “They speak for the hundreds of thousands of people from Japan, Korea and other countries whose lives were shattered by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Tveit urged Obama to share his vision of a world without nuclear weapons. “The World Council of Churches was founded in 1948, in the shadow of the atomic bombings,” Tveit wrote. “We believe that the case for the elimination of nuclear weapons is grounded in the responsibility to protect and care for goodness of all that God has created and for the dignity of all human beings, made in the image of God.”

Using the energy of the atom in ways that threaten and destroy life is a sinful misuse of the fundamental building blocks of God’s creation, Tveit added in the letter. “Churches in every region of the world refuse to accept that the mass destruction of other peoples can ever be a legitimate means of protecting one’s own people.”

WCC project “Churches engaged for nuclear arms control”

WCC general secretary's letter to President Obama of 26 May 2016