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Beyond the Mushroom CloudCommemoration, Religion, and Responsibility after Hiroshima$
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Yuki Miyamoto

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823240500

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823240500.001.0001

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Sacrificial Lambs

Sacrificial Lambs

Nagai Takashi and the Roman Catholic Interpretation of the Bombing

Chapter:
(p.111) 4 Sacrificial Lambs
Source:
Beyond the Mushroom Cloud
Author(s):

Yuki Miyamoto

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823240500.003.0005

At the time of the bombing, Nagai Takashi—a convert Roman Catholic and medical doctor specializing in radiation—was getting ready for class at his medical school. Though severely injured, he miraculously survived, while his wife had died at home from the heat and blast. After the bombing, friends asked Nagai if the bomb was punishment from God. Nagai answered that, on the contrary, the bomb was a blessing from God. Because of the bomb, the war ended; those who were killed by the bomb were “sacrificial lambs,” worthy enough to be offered to God; those who survived were in fact failed to be chosen. While Nagai's interpretation was widely embraced among Nagasaki Catholics, Pope John Paul II clarified that war is an act of human upon his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1981. Three years later however, John Paul issued an encyclical on theodicy entitled Salvifici Doloris, part of which is not far from Nagai's understanding of the atomic bombing. Nagai's critical self-reflection, resonates with that of kōji, contributes to the hibakusha ethics of not retaliation, but reconciliation on the one hand, it still leaves a question of moral accountability of individuals, the topic of the next chapter.

Keywords:   Nagai Takashi, Roman Catholicism, Pope John Paul II, Sacrificial Lambs, Nagasaki, Urakami, Catholic community

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