09/13/2014, 00.00
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Pope in Redipuglia: War is madness. This is the time to weep

At the cemetery that is the final resting place for the mortal remains of over 10 thousand victims of the First World War, Pope Francis condemns past and present wars, their destructive power, motivated by Cain’s attitude: "What does it matter to me?". The "the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry". "... 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 ...". Present cardinals and bishops from Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, ordinary soldiers and representatives of Orthodox and Muslims in Europe. Pope Francis’ grandfather fought in the Great War on the Piave. The gift of "Light of St. Francis" to the military ordinary military in commemorations of the First World War. The full text of the papal homily.

Redipuglia (AsiaNews) - " War is madness.Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys": Pope Francis today roundly condemned all wars during Mass at the military cemetery of Redipuglia, in memory of the 100 years since the beginning of the First world War (1914 -1918).

The pontiff celebrated Mass with the Archbishop of Gorizia, Msgr. Carlo Maria Roberto Redaelli. Other participants included Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, and Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, with many bishops from Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Croatia and the diocese of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in addition to the Military Ordinary bishops and military chaplains. The choir and the liturgical service was prepared by hundreds of soldiers from the Italian army. The celebration was attended by at least 20 thousand people, of which more than 7 thousand soldiers from Italy and other nations. Members of the Orthodox Churches and Muslim communities in Europe were also present.

Before arriving at the Redipuglia Shrine, Pope Francis placed some flower and paused for a brief moment of silence in the Austro-Hungarian cemetery in Fogliano Redipuglia.  Thus he ideally joined Italians and Austrians, the enemies in the Great War fought in the region, in prayer. It must be said that the Pope's own grandfather, Giovanni Bergoglio, fought on the Piave in the First World War. At the end of the Mass the Pope was presented with his grandfather's military service package.  The Pope has spoken of how he often heard the stories of the Great War from his grandfather.

The military shrine Redipuglia, a monument built in terraces, contains the remains of 107,187 men who fell in the Great War. Pope Pius XI, Pope of the time, had termed this a "senseless slaughter". Pope Francis speaks of " Each one of the dead buried here had their own plans, their own dreams... but their lives were cut short".

Roundly condemning all wars the Pope noted 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...".

Pope Francis observed how the Great War was motivated "greed, intolerance, the lust for power...." "often justified by an ideology." Even today, " in today's world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important".

But the deeper reason for any war past and present lies in "Cain's answer: 'What does it matter to me?'". This question loaded with cynicism is repeated seven times in the Pope's short homily.
"Above the entrance to this cemetery, - noted Pope Francis - there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, "What does it matter to me?" Each one of the dead buried here had their own plans, their own dreams... but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, "What does it matter to me?". And again: " The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present".

"With this "What does it matter to me?" in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That "What does it matter to me?" prevents the tears. Cain did not cry".

"With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart: to move on from "What does it matter to me?", to tears: for each one of the fallen of this "senseless massacre", for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age. Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep".

At the end of the Mass, the Pope gifted the military Ordinaries and the bishops present the Light of St. Francis, which will be lit in the various dioceses for the celebrations in commemoration of the First World War. The lamp was offered by the Sacred Convent of Assisi and oil by the Italian Associazione Libera.

Below the full text of the papal homily:

After experiencing the beauty of travelling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream... I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.

Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also ruins the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying.

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. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: "What does it matter to me? Am I my brother's keeper?" (cf. Gen 4:9). War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers.... "What does it matter to me?"

Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, "What does it matter to me?" Each one of the dead buried here had their own plans, their own dreams... but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, "What does it matter to me?"

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...

In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, "What does it matter to me?" Cain would say, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

This attitude is the exact opposite of what Jesus asks of us in the Gospel. We have heard: he is in the least of his brothers; he, the King, the Judge of the world, he is the one who hungers, who thirsts, he is the stranger, the one who is sick, the prisoner... The one who cares for his brother or sister enters into the joy of the Lord; the one who does not do so, however, who by his omissions says, "What does it matter to me?", remains excluded.

Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.

Today, too, the victims are many... How is this possible? It is so because in today's world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!

And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, "What does it matter to me?"

It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.

With this "What does it matter to me?" in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That "What does it matter to me?" prevents the tears. Cain did not cry. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present.

With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart: to move on from "What does it matter to me?", to tears: for each one of the fallen of this "senseless massacre", for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age. Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.

 

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