Pope Francis, Japan’s Kishida discuss hopes for nuclear-free world

Meeting came as nuclear-armed Russia pressed its war in Ukraine, and North Korea launched a ballistic missile and vowed to continue developing nuclear arsenal

Pope Francis and the prime minister of Japan, the only country to be hit by atomic bombs, met on Wednesday and discussed their common hope for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Francis and Fumio Kishida met for about half an hour in a receiving room of the Vatican’s audience hall just before Francis held his general audience for thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

The meeting came as nuclear-armed Russia pressed its war in Ukraine and after North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters and vowed to speed up the development of its own nuclear arsenal.

In a statement, the Vatican said the talks touched on bilateral and international relations “with particular attention to the war in Ukraine, stressing the urgency of dialogue and peace and expressing the hope, to this end, for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Francis has changed church teaching on nuclear weapons, saying their mere possession was “immoral.” He made the comments during a 2019 visit to Japan, where he paid tribute to survivors of the atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently vowed to speed up the development of his nuclear weapons “at the fastest possible pace” and threatened to use them against rivals. ...continue reading