Praying for war dead at Italian WWI Memorial, Francis condemns apathy toward ongoing conflict.
September 13, 2014
Humanity may be in the early days of a Third World War, Pope Francis said during a ceremony marking the centennial of the start of World War I.
The Pope on Saturday morning celebrated Mass at the Italian Military Memorial of Redipuglia. The area was the scene of fighting between Italy and the forces of the Central Powers during the 1914-1918 conflict.
“There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war,” Pope Francis said during a homily at a Mass for the fallen and victims of all wars. He called war “madness” and “irrational” and said its only plan was to bring destruction.
“Greed, intolerance, the lust for power…. These motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse,” said the Pope.
Speaking at the end of a week in which President Obama announced a new plan to combat the terrorist group Islamic State, and with almost constant news of growing conflicts in various parts of the world, the Pope said that "even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
Standing beneath the towering Redipuglia memorial entombing 100,000 Italian soldiers fallen in World War I, Francis surely had his own grandfather in mind. The elder Bergoglio fought in Italy's 1915-17 offensive against the Austro-Hungarian empire waged in the nearby battlefields, surviving to impress upon the future Pope the horror of war.