Soka Gakkai Urges Nuclear Disarmament at Vatican Conference

By BD Dipananda
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-11-17 |
Pope Francis receives a gift from participants at the “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” conference at the Vatican. From voanews.comPope Francis receives a gift from participants at the “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” conference at the Vatican. From

At a high-level international conference at the Vatican titled “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament,” held on 10–11 November, Hiromasa Ikeda, vice-president of the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International (SGI), urged world leaders to increase efforts in awareness-raising to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The conference, held in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall, was hosted by the newly created Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD). SGI was one of 13 cooperating organizations involved in the event.

“Nuclear weapons are dangerous from a security perspective,” said Ikeda in his call for action. “From an ethical and moral perspective, they are wrong. This renders them unacceptable in any hands. With the geopolitical risks of nuclear conflict rising to unprecedented levels, it is vital that this awareness be shared widely by all people.” (Soka Gakkai International) 

Soka Gakkai International vice-president Hiromasa Ikeda. From youtube.comSoka Gakkai International vice-president Hiromasa Ikeda. From

Ikeda also advocated SGI’s educational focus on creating opportunities for dialogue: “This can foster a shared awareness that nuclear weapons—in any hands—are dangerous and wrong as a means of protecting the things and people we treasure.” (Soka Gakkai International)

The conference was the result of efforts by His Holiness Pope Francis to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and represented the first global gathering on Atomic Disarmament after the approval of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, signed by the representatives of 122 countries in New York on 7 July 2017.

Attendees at the conference included Pope Francis, 11 Noble Peace Prize laureates, senior representatives from the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), diplomats from Iran, the Russian Federation, South Korea, and the United States, as well as heads of major foundations and civil society organizations, representative of Episcopal Conferences, senior professors and students from US and Russian universities, and followers of various faith traditions. 

Pope Francis received the participants at the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, where he gave an official address that broached the global “climate of instability and conflict” and the “mentality of fear” in the world today. “International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms,” His Holiness emphasized. (Reuters)

“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity,” he noted. (Soka Gakkai International)

Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the DPIHD, closed the conference by calling on the participants to engage in ongoing dialogue and action: “Everything is connected and everyone is connected. Together we can rid the world of nuclear weapons, invest in integral human development, and build peace.” (Soka Gakkai International) 

Cardinal Peter Turkson talks with reporters during the conference. Photo by Tony Gentile. From reuters.comCardinal Peter Turkson talks with reporters during the conference. Photo by Tony Gentile. From

Founded in 1975 by Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai International (also known as Value Creation Association International) is an Nichiren Buddhist organization. It is the world’s largest lay Buddhist organization, claiming some 12 million members around the globe, who practice Nichiren Buddhism (a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the Japanese monk Nichiren [1222–82]) and are involved in promoting peace, culture, and education. Each year since 1983, SGI has issued a peace proposal, offering ways to tackle global challenges and suggesting solutions and responses grounded in Buddhist philosophy.

See more

Press Release: SGI Urges Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Vatican Conference (Soka Gakkai International)
Pope, in change from predecessors, condemns nuclear arsenals for deterrence (Reuters)
Vatican hosting high-level symposium against nuclear weapons (Vatican Radio)

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