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Pope denounces ‘unspeakable horror’ of nuclear weapons

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NAGASAKI, JAPAN Pope Francis railed against the use of nuclear weapons and the growing arms trade yesterday as he paid tribute to the "unspeakable horror" suffered by victims of the Nagasaki atomic bomb.

In a highly symbolic visit to the Japanese city devastated by the nuclear attack in August 1945, Pope Francis said nuclear weapons were "not the answer" to a desire for security, peace and stability.

"Indeed they seem always to thwart it," he said.

At least 74,000 people died from the atomic bomb unleashed on the city in western Japan - just three days after the world's first nuclear attack hit Hiroshima and killed at least 140,000.

"This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another," said the sombre pontiff on the first full day of his Japan trip.

Hundreds of people in white raincoats sat in torrential rain to hear the Pope's speech, next to the emblematic photo of a young boy carrying his dead baby brother on his back in the aftermath of the attack.

Pope Francis laid a wreath of white flowers and prayed silently in the rain.

The Pope also took aim at what he called the "perverse dichotomy" of nuclear deterrence, saying that peace is incompatible with the "fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation".

This marked a break with past pontiffs - in a 1982 UN speech, Pope John Paul II had described nuclear deterrence as a necessary evil.

The 82-year-old Pope also hit out at the "money that is squandered and the fortune made" in the arms trade, describing it as an "affront crying out to Heaven" in a world where "millions of children are living in inhumane conditions". - AFP

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