By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 September, 2014
“Whereas God carries forward the work of creation ... war destroys. It ruins the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings.”
The merchants of war have made a great deal of money but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry, Pope Francis pointed out on Saturday as he marked the centenary of the beginning of World War I.
Celebrating Mass at the Italian Military Memorial of Redipuglia, in the Province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the scene of fighting between the Allied forces and those of the Central Powers during World War I, the Pontiff spoke about the fallen and victims of all wars.
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,” the Pontiff said.
In his homily, Pope Francis said, “Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.”
Pope Francis repeatedly called war “madness” and “irrational”, and said its only plan was to bring destruction.
He stood in a place known as the Memorial of the 100,000, where a giant white staircase leads uphill towards three bronze crosses representing Golgotha. The massive stone steps are engraved with the words ‘Presente’ as a roll call to the fallen in battle.
“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.”
But first there is a distorted passion or impulse, the Pope warned.
Even today, he added, in this place which is a 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…”
“Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.”
“Today, too, the victims are many… How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!”
The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present, he said.
Pope Francis suggested that it is the task of the wise to recognise errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.
“With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a 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 of the mindless wars, in every age. Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.”