Aide Reflects on Resource, Risk of Nuclear Power

Lauds Rescue Workers in Japan

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Nuclear energy is an immense resource for man but the questions about its risks must not be neglected, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this reflection on the latest episode of "Octava Dies."

He spoke about the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, noting that the images "which have been transmitted for days, continue to disturb us and make us raise questions."

The priest continued, "At first they evoked dramatic memories of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean six years ago that left in its wake a frightening number of victims, but even more: a sea of suffering and sorrow that calls on our compassion, our solidarity, our prayer."

Japanese authorities are currently reporting 8,450 deaths, 2,701 people injured, and 12,931 people missing after the disaster.

"But after a few days," Father Lombardi stated, "the world's attention turned from the destructive wave to the disaster of the nuclear plants."

On Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Yukiya Amano stated that the crisis at the nuclear plants is "extremely serious."

There have been explosions and radiation leakage at the power plants due to the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami. Some 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes near the plants.

"The Japanese," Father Lombardi acknowledged, "have shown that they have learned how to anticipate with foresight the dangers of earthquakes in an admirable way, constructing buildings capable of resisting the strongest quakes."

He added, "And nevertheless on this occasion Japan's technological progress has manifested a weak point, that was, in a certain sense, unexpected."

Wave of fear

The priest explained, "It only took one of the more than 50 Japanese nuclear plants to be seriously damaged by the quake for a new wave [...] of fear over another insidious cause of death -- besides that of the seaquake -- which is spreading through the entire world."

He affirmed, "Nuclear energy is an immense natural resource that man tries to use in his service, but if it gets out of control it rebels against him."

The Jesuit noted, "And no one knows better than the Japanese what the effects are of energy unleashed from the heart of man rebelling against him."

He continued: "The security of the plants and the safeguarding of radioactive material can never be absolute.

"It is right and obligatory to return to reflect on the correct use of technological power, on its risks, on its human price. The Pope recommends this often."

Father Lombardi acknowledged, "Today in the plant that has gone haywire a handful of heroes are generously offering their lives for the safety of many people-- like the firefighters of 9/11."

As at that time, he concluded, solidarity and "love for others, even at the price of one's life, is the true light in the darkness of tragedy."

The priest stated: "It indicates the direction to seek. It is the same direction as Jesus' path to Easter."