I know, I know — it’s almost three hours long! But it is the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this episode provides a great “behind the scenes” oral history that you won’t hear elsewhere; not to mention it acts as a great testimony to the way God works in human lives and human history, carrying out his plans in ways we can’t even see or could ever possibly plan.
God had a plan for George’s life. Find out more about:
What he did as a Catholic chaplain in 1945 at Tinian Island
Why he “blessed the bombs” of the 509th composite group, the group that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan
How belligerent Fr. Zabelka was when he first showed up at Fr. McCarthy’s retreats in the mid-70s. (“Are you telling me Jesus wouldn’t enjoy a good boxing match?!”)
His eventual conversion.
How his story came to be known around the world, despite Catholic media having no interest in it whatsoever.
How his story helped to spark the movement on the part of the U.S. bishops that eventually led to the writing and publishing of their 1983 pastoral “The Challenge of Peace” (which was a really big deal back in its day)
Why Zabelka is “considered a saint” in some circles of Japanese Christianity
To me, the story of George is unimaginably important. The story of why there are hardly any Catholics who know about George is equally important. It’s a great story, one about conversation, repentance, peace. Why were so few media outlets in the United States, both American and Catholic, so disinterested in telling it?
Don’t forget to watch the documentary about George as well, “The Reluctant Prophet”:
“Cardinal Gibbons never made it for the papal conclave in which Giacomo della Chiesa became Pope Benedict XV. Arriving just hours late, he did become the first to have an audience with the new pope. Yet on his return from the trip, he began immediately a course of politics that, while publicly deferential to Benedict, was in opposition to the pope.”
“As April of 1917 and the U.S. entrance into the war drew near, Gibbons stepped up his campaign to be a public voice on behalf of President Wilson. Despite criticism, he endorsed a plan for universal military service. (It is significant here that in September of 1917 Benedict lobbied for a ‘general boycott in sanction against any nation that might attempt to reestablish obligatory military service.’) Gibbons also publicly backed, in the New York Times, Wilson’s ‘preparedness campaign”’of military build-up. And so, even a day before the formal declaration of war on Germany came, Gibbons was ready with a prepared statement. The statement, of course, made no mention of Benedict’s condemnation of the proliferation of the war. Yet he didn’t need to make mention of this; it was clear how Gibbons expected Catholics of American stripe to proceed during this time of national crisis. Far from obedience to the words of the pontiff, who had taught in Ad beatissimi that “[t]here is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism,” Gibbons had other instructions for U.S. Catholics. “The primary duty of a citizen,” Gibbons taught, “is loyalty to country. It is exhibited by an absolute and unreserved obedience to his country’s call.”
Alright, Gibbons, sorry but reading about your militaristic antics has just landed you on my new “Catholics For Militarism” Pinterest board (alongside Gemelli)!