This week marks the 70th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 & 9 August. In 1945 the death toll in Hiroshima was estimated at between 100,000 - 180,000 and in Nagasaki between 50,000 and 100,000. 70 years on - nine countries, including the UK, possess more than 17,000 nuclear weapons. Trident, the UK weapons programme, is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, said: "This is an ideal time to engage people in thinking about the reality of nuclear weapons today. Tragically, they have not been confined to the history books: they are still with us and as Christians we should be doing all we can to ensure that our Government does not renew its commitment to Trident, Britain's nuclear weapons programme, in 2016. Pope Francis has reminded us that spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations and that resources would be better invested in the areas of integral human development and the fight against poverty."
This year in the UK, Pax Christi members in London, Liverpool, Coventry and Kent will hold vigils and run information stalls on the anniversaries of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In London, a stall and times of prayer will be held outside Westminster Cathedral on 6 August between 10am - 5pm and on 9 August between 1.30pm and 5pm. In addition, the Pax Christi ICON of Peace will be on display in St Patrick's Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, for private prayer and reflection for peace, between 3 and 17 August.
In Liverpool there will be a stall and display in the Metropolitan Cathedral between 10.30am and 3pm on 6 and 9 August.
In Coventry, the Annual Hiroshima Vigil will be held in the Chapel of Unity at Coventry Cathedral at 6pm on 6 August.
In Aylesford Priory, Kent, a vigil will be held in the Choir Chapel from 8.20pm on 6 August.
On 6 August, Quakers in Britain will hold an interfaith service of commemoration and commitment for a nuclear-free world in London. Open to all, the service begins in Friends House (opposite Euston station) at 2.30pm, followed by workshops and an exhibition - the Nuclear Risk Hibakusha Worldwide -and, at 6pm, the film, created then banned by the BBC, The War Game.
Attendees are asked to register for the service: https://forms.quaker.org.uk/hiroshima
You can find resources to help you plan your own Hiroshma or Nagasaki event here: http://paxchristi.org.uk/resources/prayer-and-seasonal/
A full list of events planned around the country can be found here: https://mapalist.com/Public/pm.aspx?mapid=536517
In New York, Pax Christi Metro will be holding their annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial on 6 August. This year the focus will be 'Catholic Morality and Nuclear Abolition'.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Nuncio of the Holy See to the United Nations, will speak. The event starts at 2.30pm in Casserly Hall, St. Joseph's Greenwich Village Church. A silent procession and public vigil will follow, ending at 4.30pm.
On Sunday, 9 August at 6.30pm there will be Memorial Service for Blessed Franz Jägerstätter at Sacred Heart Church, Horseferry Road, Westminster, London SW1P 2EF. Franz was executed in 1943 for refusing to serve in Hitler's army and was Beatified in October 2007. The speaker will be Chris Gabbett Principal of Trinity Catholic School, Leamington Spa which is a Pax Christi school .
Following the service there will be an interfaith peace walk to Battersea Peace Pagoda to mark Nagasaki Day.
For more information tel: 020 8203 4884 or see: www.paxchristi.org.uk
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