In some of his most forceful language to date, Pope Francis spokeout against war this morning, calling it “madness.”
The Pope pronounced these words during the homily at Mass while visiting the military shrine of Redipuglia in commemoration of the centenaryof the beginning of World War I. He came to pray for the fallen of all wars,the first Pope to visit the site since JohnPaul II came 22 years ago on the evening of May 3, 1992 to commemorate thesacrifice and suffering of thousands of young victims of the First World Warwho rest in the military shrine.
Pope Francis urged the world to shedits apathy in the face of what he sees as a third world war, wagedpiecemeal “with crimes, massacres and destruction” in different parts of theworld, during his homily at the foot of a Fascist-era World War I monument nearthe Slovene border.
Saturday’s visit was infused with intensely personalmeaning. The pope’s grandfather fought in Italy’s 1915-18 offensive against theAustro-Hungarian empire, surviving to impress upon the future pope the horror ofwar.
A hundredthousand soldiers, of which 60,000 remain unnamed, died in the trenches ofCarso and the Isonzo.
“Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, war destroys,” the Popedeclared. “War,” he said, “ruins everything, even the bondsbetween brothers. War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction.”
War is “too often justified by an ideology,” the Pope said,and where this is lacking, people revert to Cain’s defense: “What does itmatter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There aretears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of everywar,” the Pope said.
He attributed the cause of much of the bloodshed tobehind-the-scenes interests: “geopolitical strategies, lust for money andpower, and… the manufacture and sale of arms.”
ThePope ended his discourse with a personal appeal. “With the heart of a son, abrother, a father,” he said, “I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to havea conversion of heart: to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to tears:for each one of the fallen of this ‘senseless massacre,’ for all the victims ofthe mindless wars, in every age. Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.”