Pope Francis, one of the world's powerful religious leaders, is worried just like global political leaders that a grim mistake could trigger a nuclear war. Though he did not point out which country or a political scenario he was referring to, his concerns are bound to be seen through the prism of what is currently happening around North Korea.
The 81-year-old Vatican pontiff was just setting off a week-long trip on Monday (16 January) to Latin America where he will visit Chile and Peru. But, his spokesman distributed a chilling photograph of a nuclear disaster to those reporters on board the plane.
That image showed a young Japanese boy carrying his dead brother on his back in the aftermath of the US dropping a catastrophic nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Francis said he was moved when he accidentally received the unsettling picture, which was captured by the American photographer, Joseph Roger O'Donnell.
"I found it by chance," said the pope as he attempted to underscore the repercussions of World War II. "Such image moves more than a thousand words. And I wanted to share it with you," added Francis illustrating the picture as a "fruit of war".
When reporters asked how he sees the world with political uncertainties, the pope said: "I think we are at the very edge. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things."
However, this is not the first time Francis, who is more vocal than many of his predecessors on political matters, spoke on abandoning nuclear weapons. He has previously called on nations not to stockpile nuclear warheads even if it is for the purpose of deterrence.
His comments have also come at a time when the situation in the Korean peninsula is undergoing a turbulent phase with Pyongyang pressing ahead with its weapons activities with few signs of rapprochement.
Francis' remarks were made just against the backdrop of a false missile alert occurring in Hawaii sparking panic among residents.