Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Catholic Archbishop of Manila, visits Hiroshima, says peace starts with “a pure heart”

by Kunihiko Sakurai, Staff Writer

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 59, the Catholic Archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, paid his first visit to the Peace Memorial Park in downtown Hiroshima on February 5. Archbishop Tagle, who serves as an advisor to Pope Francis, has traveled to Japan to attend the beatification ceremony of Takayama Ukon, a Japanese Christian warlord. At his own request, he visited Hiroshima and offered flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. Some 60 Catholic Filipinos came to the park to hear him speak. He said that building peace starts in our daily lives and people should love their family members and friends and remain pure in heart. These are excerpts from the Chugoku Shimbun interview with Cardinal Tagle.

How did you feel standing near the hypocenter of the atomic bomb?
I visited Nagasaki yesterday, and today I am in Hiroshima. This is a place where we can still recall the painful memories of the war. It reminds us that we must love each other and that justice and compassion are essential to peace. People can rise from the ashes as they cherish hope. The relations between the Philippines and Japan have become better after the war through the efforts made to heal those who have painful memories and to respect one other.

What were your thoughts as you visited the Peace Memorial Museum?
So many lives were lost. I was struck speechless. At the same time, I thought of many more who have died around the world. Even now, people are dying by violence or in atrocities in many parts of the world. I want to not only talk about peace but create peace.

You closed your eyes and put your hands together in silence in front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims.
I prayed to God for forgiveness, looking back on the history of human beings causing harm to one other. I also prayed for God’s blessing so that we can strengthen love and reduce hatred.

As a member of the Catholic clergy, what will you do to help build a peaceful world?
God commanded the church to play an important role in showing what true love is. With true love, we can devote ourselves to all people, including those who seek to persecute us. Love can stop persecution or violence and save our souls. Peace begins with a small deed. People should find the truth and care about those who are around them. The start of all this is a pure heart.

What do you think of the fact that many nuclear weapons still exist in the world?
As John Paul II, who visited Hiroshima, and Pope Francis both said, the production and use of nuclear weapons should be stopped. Based on historical facts, I will tell what I saw and heard here today to the people around me. I hope Pope Francis will come to Hiroshima, too.

(Originally published on February 20, 2017)