Pope Francis celebrated Mass at an American military cemetery outside Rome on the day that Catholics set aside to pray for all the faithful departed.
The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial is a cemetery for American military personnel killed during World War II. During his visit Thursday, the Pope placed flowers on several graves, including those of a Jewish soldier, an unknown soldier and an Italian-American.
During his homily at Mass, the Pope reflected on the virtue of hope, citing the words of the biblical figure of Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last he will take his stand on the earth.”
“We hope to meet God, to all meet again as brothers, and that hope does not disappoint,” he said.
“Many times hope is born and drives its roots into so many human wounds, so many human sorrows,” Francis said, “and those moments of sorrow, wounds and suffering make us look heavenward and say: ‘I believe that my Redeemer lives. But enough, Lord.’”
“Enough, Lord, please,” he said. “No more. No more wars. No more useless massacres.”
“Better to have hope without this destruction: young men, thousands, thousands, thousands, thousands. Shattered hopes. ‘No more, Lord,’” he said.
“This is what we have to say today, when we pray for all the departed, but in this place we pray especially for these young men; today as the world once again is at war and prepares for even greater wars. ‘No more, Lord. No more.’ With war, we lose everything.”
“When so many times throughout history men think of waging war, they are convinced that they usher in a new world, they are convinced to bring a springtime,” Francis said. “And ends in an ugly, cruel winter, with the reign of terror and death.”
“Today we pray for all the dead, all but especially for these young people, at a time when so many die in the battles of every day in this war fought piecemeal. We also pray for today’s dead, the dead of war, including innocent children.
“This is the result of war: death,” he concluded. “May the Lord give us the grace to weep.”
A group of American students will also be visiting the cemetery, including participants in a new program designed to help young study-abroad students learn about soldiers who gave their lives while serving abroad.
The program—headed up in Rome by Michael Wright, the director of Duquesne University’s Rome campus—is called “Be the Difference – Never Again” and encourages young Americans to visit U.S. cemeteries abroad and to return home and make a difference in their local communities.
Many Americans are unaware of the sacrifice of those who went before them, who won and preserved the freedoms they take for granted. The “Be the Difference” program seeks to remedy this lack by helping students get to know who these soldiers were, as well as the ideals that inspired them.
Mr. Wright told Breitbart News that the Be the Difference-Never Again project “connects young American and Italian students to their not-so-distant past.”
“People their own age came abroad to Italy, not as students but as soldiers, and made the ultimate sacrifice so that future generations could be free,” he said.
The program honors the fallen as well as war veterans, for their sacrifice and service on behalf of all Americans, and encourages others to patriotism and veneration of those who serve in the armed forces.
One young woman participating in the program, Alyssa Hoover, said she learned that “honoring soldiers is important so as to not forget their sacrifice, but also in order to raise awareness to keep horrors like the war from happening again.”
“I also learned to value human life, as I feel like in wartime sometimes people become numbers and statistics, but they have stories,” she said.
At its Rome campus, Duquesne University hosts approximately 180 students per year in two academic semesters as well as a summer session.
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