(Vatican Radio) “We have yet to learn the lesson from the madness of war”, lamented Pope Francis Sunday as he launched two appeals following the midday Angelus prayer with faithful and tourists in St Peter’s Square.
Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
The Holy Father appealed for prayers for the United Nations peace keeping mission to the Central African Republic. The Pope noted the peacekeepers will begin their mission Monday and assured the support and prayer of the Catholic Church. He also prayed that violence in the country give way to dialogue, that opposing factions leave aside particular interests and strive to ensure that every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or religion, collaborate to build up the common good.
For the past two years, sectarian Christian and Muslim militias in CAR have been waging war against each other’s communities with horrific violence. Over 2,600 Central Africans have died, and nearly 1 million of the country’s 4.5 million residents have been displaced, creating an urgent humanitarian crisis.
Yet although the country is teetering on the edge of complete chaos, the outside world is paying very little attention. It is one of the world’s forgotten wars.
Pope Francis has described the proliferation of such conflicts across the globe today, as a “third world war” in act. Recalling his visit Saturday to a World War I military cemetery in Northern Italy, and the shocking number of people the Great War killed, the Pope repeated on Sunday that all war is madness and humanity has still not learned the lesson of this madness.
He said "I invite everyone to look at the Crucified Christ to understand that hate and evil are defeated by forgiveness and good, to understand that the response of war only increases evil and death!".
Marking the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope Francis said it is through the Cross of Christ that evil is overcome, death is defeated and hope is restored. The Cross to which Christ was nailed expresses all the negative forces of evil but also all of the gentle omnipotence of God’s mercy.
The Pope also warned against considering the cross a sign of "magic":"Belief in the Cross of Jesus involves following Him on his path. Thus Christians collaborate in His work of salvation by accepting together with Him sacrifice, suffering, even death for the love of God and neighbor".
It’s not just any cross, it is the source of our salvation.
And today the Pope concluded – “we should pray for Christians who are being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Christ. This happens especially there where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or fully realized. It happens, however, even in well-to-do countries which, in principle, protect freedom and human rights, but where in practice believers, and especially Christians, encounter restrictions and discrimination”
Appeals following the Angelus Prayer
Dear brothers and sisters,
tomorrow, the mission ordered by the Security Council of the United Nations will officially begin in the Central African Republic, to promote peace in the country and protect the civilian population, which is seriously suffering the consequences of the ongoing conflict. While I assure the commitment and prayer of the Catholic Church, I encourage the efforts of the international community, which is coming to the aid of the Central Africans of good will. May violence give way to dialogue, opposing factions leave aside particular interests and strive to ensure that every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or religion, can collaborate to build up the common good.
Yesterday I went to Redipuglia to the Austrian-Hungarian cemetery and the Military Shrine…there I prayed for those who died in the Great War. The numbers are shocking, they speak of over 8 million young soldiers who fell and an estimated 7 million civilians. This makes us understand that war is madness, and humanity has yet to learn the lessons from this madness! Because after this war, there was another world war and so many more still going on today. But when will we learn? When will we learn this lesson? I invite everyone to look at the Crucified Christ to understand that hate and evil are defeated by forgiveness and good, to understand that the response of war only increases evil and death!
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