Father Feeney and the Bombing of Nagasaki

Sandro Magister has more excerpts from Cardinal Biffi’s book on line. These passages regard the dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki. The Vaticanologist links the Cardinal’s thinking on the bombing with the Japanese Martyrs who will be beatified at the end of November, speculating that the pope is perhaps issuing a subtle condemnation of the 1945 atrocity.

For the record, Father Leonard Feeney and the other members of Saint Benedict Center were shocked by the nuclear attacks on Japan, and were sternly opposed to them on Catholic principle. When much of the country was caught up in wartime jingoism which sought to excuse this mass slaughter of non-combatants, the Catholics who looked to Father Feeney for leadership were not confused.

Here is an excerpt from The Loyolas and the Cabots, by Sister Catherine, M.I.C.M.:

One Thursday afternoon, at dusk, walking up to Harvard Square, I caught sight of the headlines in the evening newspapers. ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON JAPAN! I read about it and could not go on. I returned to St. Benedict Center, and told them that hundreds of thousands of women, children, and old men had been killed or injured by something called an atom bomb which had been dropped on a teeming Japanese city from an American airplane.

That evening, after Father’s lecture, St. Benedict Center stated that it was deeply grieved by the news of the atom bombing in the evening papers. We could not find it in our hearts to rejoice over the wholesale slaughter of innocent people. We had, months before this, been obliged to disagree with the officers who were in the Army Occupation courses, who had come into the Center and had told us that it was part of their teaching that the Japanese were sub-human. We were at a loss to understand what a “sub-human” being could possibly be, since all men were possessed of spiritual souls, and the Japanese were admittedly men. This “sub-human” theory seemed very much like the old attacks on the nature of man, against which the Council of Vienne pronounced, in 1311, when it condemned as erroneous any teaching which denied that the rational soul was by itself and by its nature the form of the body.

The atomic bombing of Japan, to our thinking, was un-Christian. The discussion which followed this announcement lasted a long time. The military personnel who were present explained the possible technical reasons for the dropping of the bomb. We reiterated our ethical and Catholic indignation. Actually, we said, we were fearful for Western civilization.