Pope Francis: War Is ‘Madness’

Pope Francis (C) speaks prior to leaving, along with Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto, Francesco Cacucci (R) and priest Giovanni Distante, the Basilica pontificia di San Nicola after a meeting with bishops during a visit to Bari, southern Italy, on February 23, 2020 to address a conference entitled "Mediterranean: Frontier of Peace" …
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis said Sunday that war is contrary to reason, is never normal, and therefore is “madness.”

“War, by allocating resources to the acquisition of weapons and military power, diverts those resources from vital social needs, such as the support of families, health care and education,” the pope told an assembly organized by the Italian bishops’ conference in the southern Italian city of Bari to reflect on the people of the Mediterranean.

War “is contrary to reason,” Francis continued, adding that therefore “it is madness.”

“It is madness to destroy houses, bridges, factories and hospitals, to kill people and annihilate resources, instead of building human and economic relationships,” he said. “It is a kind of folly to which we cannot resign ourselves: war can never be considered normal, or accepted as an inevitable means of settling differences and conflicts of interest. Never.”

“The ultimate goal of every human society is peace; indeed, we can affirm once more that in spite of everything, there is no real alternative to peacemaking,” the pontiff continued. “There is no reasonable alternative to peace, because every attempt at exploitation or supremacy demeans both its author and its target.”

The pope has often spoken of war as “failure” and “defeat,” but his address Sunday added new nuances and raised the tone of his condemnation.

War “shows a myopic grasp of reality, since it can offer no future to either of the two,” he said. “War is thus the failure of every plan, human and divine.”

The pope also appealed to people’s experience of war and the lands that have witnessed it as proof of its evil.

“One need only visit a countryside or city that has been a theatre of war to realize how, as a result of hatred, a garden turns into a desolate and inhospitable landscape, how the earthly paradise turns into hell,” he said.

Francis went on to condemn the “grave sin of hypocrisy” committed by those political leaders who speak of peace at international meetings “and then sell weapons to countries at war.”

The context for the pope’s denunciation of war was the current state of affairs around the Mediterranean Sea and its multiple conflicts.

“The Mediterranean region is currently threatened by outbreaks of instability and conflict, both in the Middle East and different countries of North Africa, as well as between various ethnic, religious or confessional groups,” he said. “Nor can we overlook the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of inequitable solutions and, hence, a prelude to new crises.”

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