Pope Benedict XVI has made an impassioned plea to end the “pointless slaughters” of wars and not to forget the mistakes of the past that have led to such conflicts.
Addressing a large crowd in the central piazza of Lorenzago di Cadore where he is spending his summer vacation, the Pope stressed that God’s plan was never for violence but for mankind to live in peace with Him and one another.
“In these days of rest that, thanks be to God, I am spending here in Cadore, I hear ever more intensely the painful impact of the news I receive of bloody clashes and violent episodes happening in so many parts of the world”, the Pope said.
“This prompts me to reflect again on the drama of human freedom in the world. The beauty of nature reminds us that we have been placed by God to ‘cultivate and protect’ this ‘garden’ that is the earth”, he continued. “If men could live in peace with God and with each other the world would really resemble a ‘paradise’”.
“Unfortunately,” he went on, “sin has ruined this divine plan, generating divisions and allowing death into the world.” He added that giving into evil results in war. “The consequence is that this marvellous ‘garden’ that is the world, becomes a space is opened for ‘hell’”. “War, with its grief and destruction, is always justly considered a calamity in contrast with the plan of God who created everything to give life and who wants to make mankind one family”.
The Pope, speaking under sunny blue skies and surrounded by the stunning mountainous landscape of the Dolomites in northwest Italy, wished to contrast the beauty of the landscape with the tragedy of war. The Pope also reminded those present that the region was once “the theatre” of the First World War. He pointed out that on August 1st, 90 years will have passed since Pope Benedict XV gave his celebrated addess ‘To the Heads of the Belligerent Peoples’ which called for an end to the “Great War”.
“While that huge, inhuman conflict raged, the Pope had the courage to affirm that it was a ‘pointless slaughter’”, the Pope said. It was an expression which was “carved into history”, he said, and which contained a “fuller prophetic value that can be applied to so many other conflicts that have cut off countless human lives”. The Holy Father stressed that his predecessor’s address was not limited to condemning war, but rather, it showed how to build a just and lasting peace by underlining the need for the moral force of the law, arms control, conflict mediation, the return of occupied territories and fair settlement negotiations.
It was also necessary, the Pope said, “to treasure the negative experiences that our fathers experienced in order not to repeat them”. Recalling the appeals that the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II made to protect the rights of people, Benedict XVI repeated, in the name of the Church, “Never again war!”
The Pope added: “From this place of peace, where one still senses how unacceptable the horrors of ‘pointless slaughters’ are, I renew the appeal to pursue the path of rights, to strongly refuse the recourse to weapons and refuse to confront new situations with old systems”. He concluded with a prayer for peace to Our Lady, Queen of Peace.
This was the Pope’s second and last Angelus address from Lorenzago di Cadore. The Holy Father thanked the local people for their hospitality, including local bishops, Giuseppe Andrich of Belluno-Feltre and Bishop Andrea Bruno Mazzocato of Treviso. Seated next to the Holy Father were several prominent Church leaders including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong, Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, and Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops’ conference. Also present was Eduardo Luciani, brother of Pope John Paul I. The Luciani family come from the nearby town of Canale d'Agordo.
The Pope returns to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo just outside Rome on July 27th where he will stay until September 1st.