NAGASAKI, Japan - Pope Francis was highly critical of nations amassing weapons of mass destruction in a speech he delivered in Nagasaki on Saturday.
The head of the Catholic Church was dismissive of deterrence being a justification for maintaining nuclear weapons.
"Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation," he said, while shrugging off light rain, in his speech at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Saturday.
"In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destruction weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven," the Pope said.
The pontiff began a 4-day tour of Japan on Saturday, after arriving from Thailand. He is the first pope to visit Japan in 38 years. The last pope to visit was Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Nagasaki, where his remarks were made, is one of only two cities ever to be subjected to a nuclear attack. Atomic bombs were dropped on the city and on Hiroshima, also in Japan, in 1945 in the closing days of the War in the Pacific. Hiroshima was bombed on 6 August 1945, three months after the surrender of Germany. Japan at the time was negotiating a peace agreement with the Allies. Astonishingly a second Atomic bomb was unleashed three days later on 9 August 1945, targeting Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, men women and children died or were injured in the attacks, while tens of thousands of buildings were completely destroyed.
"This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another," Pope Francis said.
"Here in this city, which witnessed the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear attack, our attempts to speak out against the arms race will never be enough. The arms race wastes precious resources that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and to protect the natural environment," Pope Francis said.
"I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security. We need to ponder the catastrophic impact of their deployment, especially from a humanitarian and environmental standpoint, and reject heightening a climate of fear, mistrust and hostility fomented by nuclear doctrines," the Pope said.
Francis later traveled to Hiroshima to deliver another speech on Saturday night.
On Monday, he is scheduled to visit Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and to say Mass at the Tokyo Dome.