Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pope Says To Live In Peace Would Resemble Paradise

Dear brothers and sisters!

In these days of rest which, thanks to God, I am spending here in Cadore, I feel even more intensely the sorrowful impact of the news that reaches me about the bloody encounters and episodes of violence which are taking place in so many parts of the world. This has led me to reflect even more on the tragedy 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' which is Earth (cfr Gn 2,81-7). If men lived in peace with God and among themselves, then earth would truly resemble a Paradise. But sin unfortunately ruined the divine plan, generating divisions among men and bringing death to the world.

And so it happens that men yield to the temptations of the Evil One and make war against each other. The consequence is that, in this wondrous 'garden' which the world should be, spaces of 'hell' have opened up.

War, with its trail of mourning and destruction, has always been rightly considered a calamity that opposes the plan of God, who has created everything for life, and in particular, wished to make of the human species a family.

I cannot, at this moment, fail to go back to a significant date, August 1, 1917, just about 90 years ago, when my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, addressed his famous note to the belligerent powers, calling on them to put an end to the First World War (cfr AAS 9 [1917], 417-420).

While that tremendous conflict raged, the Pope had the courage to say that it was a 'useless slaughter.' This expression of his has been inscribed in history. It was justified in the concrete situation of that summer of 1917, specially on this front in the Veneto.

But those words 'useless slaughter' also contain a much wider prophetic value and can be applied to so many other conflicts which have carried off so many human lives.

This very land where we are, which in itself speaks of peace and harmony, was a theater of the First World War, as we are still reminded today by some moving Alpine songs. They tell us of events that cannot be forgotten.

We must`guard in memory the negative experiences which unfortunately, our fathers had to suffer in order that they may not be repeated.

Pope Benedict XV's note was not limited to condemning the war. It also indicated, on a juridical basis, the means to construct a just and lasting peace: the moral force of the law, balanced and controlled disarmament, arbitration of controversies, freedom of the seas, reciprocal condonation of war damages, restitution of occupied territories, and equitable negotiations to resolve disputes.

The proposal of the Holy See was oriented towards the future of Europe and the world, according to a plan with Christian inspiration that could be shared by all because it was founded on the rights of man.

It is the same formulation that the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II advocated in their memorable addresses to the General Assembly of the United Nations, repeating, in the name of the Church, "War never again!"

From this place of peace, in which the inhabitants are more vividly aware how unacceptable are the horrors of 'useless slaughters', I renew an appeal to follow tenaciously the rule of law, to reject the arms race with determination, and in general to resist the temptation of facing new situations with old ways.

With these thoughts and hopes in our hearts, let us now raise a special prayer for peace in the world, entrusting it to the Most Holy Mary, Queen of Peace.

From Papa Ratzi Forum
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