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Pope Francis remembers the victims of every war

Pope Francis remembers the victims of every war

(Vatican Radio ) On the morning of  Saturday September 13,  Pope Francis presided over Holy Mass at the Italian War Memorial of Redipuglia.He did so at the foot of this monumental military cemetery which lies in the Province of Friuli Venezia Giulia in an area of Italy where there was  heavy  fighting between the Allied forces and those of the Central Powers during World War I.

But while Pope Francis may have marked the centenary of the First World War on Saturday morning during his homily at Holy Mass for the fallen, his thoughts went to the fallen and victims  of all wars: Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them”, said Pope Francis, “There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.”

Listen to Veronica Scarisbrick’s report: 

“War is madness, it is irrational” he kept on repeating,  in this place also known as the Memorial of the 100.000, a  monumental place with a  giant white staircase leading uphill towards three bronze crosses representing Mount Golgotha and  massive  stone steps on which the words ‘Presente’ is engraved as a sort of roll call to the fallen in battle.

Here Pope Francis said:  “Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also ruins the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings.”

In this homily Pope Francis attributed this madness to general indifference  sparked by greed, intolerance, the lust for power and  often justified by an ideology.  Even today he added in this place which is sobering reminder of the fallen of the Great War: “after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one being fought in various areas of the world through  crime, massacres, destruction”…

Behind the scenes, he specified, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and the manufacture and sale of arms. Plotters of terrorism, schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, he added, have engraved in their hearts, “What does it matter to me?”.

This attitude he highlighted is the exact opposite of what Jesus asks of us in the Gospel, it is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.

The merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, he appealed to those present   to have a conversion of heart, to be moved to tears. Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep he said..

The Holy Mass ended on a brighter note and Pope Francis went from his solemn  expression in keeping with this War Memorial of ‘RediPuglia’ to a beaming smile as he presented both civil and religious authorities, with  an oil lamp from Assisi to be lit once back home. An oil lamp like the one by the tomb of Saint Francis, a gift from the Franciscans in Assisi, a symbol of peace.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)