By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 November, 2015
Describing the many wars around the world as “a little here, a little there, and everywhere” for which there was no justification, the Pontiff said that while arms dealers go about their business, there are the poor peacemakers who, in their efforts to help another person, and another and another, spend themselves utterly, and even give their lives.
He compared this approach to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, against whom the worldly cynic might say, ‘But what did she ever accomplish? She wasted her life helping others on their way to death?’
“We do not understand the way of peace,” the Pontiff commented.
He appealed for a conversion of heart. “Here before the door of this Jubilee of Mercy, let us ask that our joy, our jubilation, be this grace – that the world discover the ability to weep for its crimes, for what the world does with war.”
The Pope continued, “Today Jesus weeps as well because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of enmities. We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.”
Pope Francis went on to recall the recent commemorations of the Second World War, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his visit to Redipuglia last year on the anniversary of the Great War.
Referring to them as “useless slaughters”, he repeated the words of Pope Benedict XV. “Everywhere there is war today, there is hatred,” he said.
He asked, “What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?”
“What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims: and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.”
Separately, the police presence around the Vatican has been strengthened in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, and extra security will be in force when the Pope travels to Africa next week.
However, there are no plans to alter the Pope’s schedule, or for the Jubilee Year celebration.
Italian police have increased their patrols around St Peter’s Square, with military police checking the parcels of visitors and plainclothes officers mixing with the crowd at the Pope’s weekly public audience.
Italy has assigned 700 soldiers to extra security details around Rome, with the city on a high alert because of concerns about a new terrorist attack.
The US embassy in Rome has sent out an advisory to American citizens, warning that St Peter’s basilica is one of several possible terror targets in Italy.
However, Vatican officials have said that there are no plans to change the existing schedule of public events, either in Rome or in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic where Pope Francis will visit at the end of November.
Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters on 19 November that the head of the Pope’s security services will travel to Africa ahead of the Pontiff to make a final check of security.
He will be especially alert for problems in the Central African Republic, where renewed bloodshed has raised questions as to whether the papal visit could be postponed.
Fr Lombardi said the Pope is committed to the trip. “We are monitoring the situation,” he said, “As things stand, we plan to go to the Central African Republic.”
The Pope will travel in an open car during his African visit, Fr Lombardi confirmed.
Asked whether the Pontiff had been advised to wear a bulletproof vest, the Vatican spokesman replied, “This is the first I have heard of it.”
He pointed out that it would seem contradictory to wear a bulletproof vest while riding in an open car.