Sulpician Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, p.s.s., the current head of the historic Archdiocese of Nagasaki, was merely an infant in his mother’s womb when the bomb was dropped on his native city where he now leads the Catholic community. The date was August 9, 1945. The atomic bomb was dropped in the heart of Nagasaki and especially affected the Catholic community centered there, destroying the historic church that would become Urakami Cathedral and killing many Catholics among the 75,000 souls annihilated by the blast.
The Archbishop lost two of his aunts and his grandmother in the blast, and other family members suffered ill health from after-effects of the bomb. Ever since becoming Archbishop of Nagaskai in 2003, Mgr Takami has lobbied intensively around the world for nuclear disarmament and a banishment of war. America, the Jesuit weekly magazine published in the United States, recently reported on Archbishop Takami’s efforts to bring the message of peace to the world (17 May 2010, pp. 6-7). He spent the last year traveling to many countries with the remnants of a statue of the Virgin Mary that was once placed in the Nagasaki cathedral. All that remains of the statue now is the head of Mary, whose stark face is now marked by burns and scars from the bomb.
The article quoted the Archbishop’s purpose as thus: “The message of this Mary is to tell the people of the world the absurdity and foolishness of war, militarization, and nuclear weapons. Mary is inviting us to work for peace.” America also has made an interview with Mgr Takami.
Prior to his being named an auxiliary bishop of Nagasaki in 2002, Mgr Takami taught on the faculty of the Sulpician Seminary in Fukuoka, Japan. He currently chairs the Japanese Conference Bishops’ Committee for Priestly Formation, which recently oversaw the merger of the Sulpician Seminary with the one in Tokyo. The new entity is now called Japan Catholic Seminary. The Canadian Province of Sulpicians continues its ministry of priestly formation there, although sponsorship of the new seminary is directly under the Conference of Bishops.
The Company of Priests of Saint Sulpice is proud of its confrere, Archbishop Takami, who so valiantly is speaking out against the atrocity of war and nuclear weapons. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, be a guiding light in this effort!