.- Breaking a 15 year-long tradition, Argentina’s Defense Ministry denied members of the Armed Forces and their families the chance to participate in the 48th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes because of a lack of funds.
The 48th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes-which brings military personnel from dozens of countries to the Marian shrine in France each year-took place in May and brought together some 300,000 pilgrims from around the world. The event was led by Bishop Patrick Le Gal of the Military Diocese of France and had as its theme, “Keep your lamps lit.” The first pilgrimage took place in 1958 at the request of Italian and French military personnel.
Argentina’s Defense Ministry said budget cuts forced it to cancel the trip for this year. Argentina was the only country from Latin America that had been participating in the event.
Father Jean-Louis Theron, who coordinated the pilgrimage, said it is “a unique event in the world” because “if anybody can speak about peace it is those in the military.”
Among the countries represented this year were Burundi, South Korea, the Ivory Coast, the United States, Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine. The Holy See was represented by members of the Swiss Guard.