|An image by American photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell that Pope Francis is circulating during the 2017 holidays, under the heading "The fruits of war." (Credit: Vatican Press Office.)|
The front side of the card displays a picture taken by American photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell, a Marine who worked for four years after the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki documenting their impact. The shot shows a young Japanese boy standing in line at a crematorium with his dead younger brother on his back.
“The young boy’s sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips, which are oozing blood,” the inscription on the pope’s card says.
The gesture is consistent with Francis’s effort since his election to speak out against what he describes as a “Third World War” today, being fought in piecemeal fashion in various parts of the world. The pontiff has also spoken about the disproportionate suffering children often experience in conflicts, including the risk of being enrolled as child soldiers.
Though release of the photo in the run-up to New Year’s does not add anything substantive to the pontiff’s positions, it’s nevertheless the first time Francis has asked that a specific image be circulated in the holiday season, suggesting he believes its message is especially relevant at the moment.