Pope Francis circulates Nagasaki image under heading, ‘The fruit of war’.
The photo on the cards, taken by U.S. Marine Roger O’Donnell, shows a young boy standing in line at a crematorium with his dead, infant brothers strapped to his back, according to CNN Sunday. While Francis’ anti-war position is well known, his order for the circulation of a specific image during the run up to New Year’s eve indicates that he believes this message is especially significant, according to Crux Now.
“Though release of the photo in the run-up to New Year’s does not add anything substantive to the pontiff’s positions, i’s nevertheless the first time Francis has asked that a specific image be circulated in the holiday season, suggesting he believes its message is especially relevant at the moment,” CNN senior Vatican analyst John L. Allen Jr. wrote for Crux.
The card bears Francis’ signature, Franciscus, just below the caption, as well as a short description of the photo.
“The young boy’s sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips, which are oozing blood,” the photo’s description reads.
O’Donnell took the photo as part of a four-year project to record the aftermath of the WWII U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. He compiled and published his photos in the book “Japan 1945: A US. Marine’s Photographs from Ground Zero.”
The timing of the card as well as the subject of the photo – child victims of an atomic bombing – suggest that Francis’ intended message is aimed not only at raising awareness about general violent conflicts and young victims around the world, but also specifically at the brewing conflict between North Korea and the U.S. Francis repeatedly spoke out against the prospect of war between the two countries in 2017, as tensions rose and North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons, and urged for the conflict to be settled via mediated negotiations.
The card is also the latest in series of statements Francis has made against what he calls the “Third World War” which he says is being waged all over the war in piecemeal fashion, according to Crux.