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On D-Day anniversary, Pope Francis prays for men who start and prolong wars
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Pope Francis this week prayed for men who want, start, or needlessly prolong wars, with the prayer coming ahead of the 80th anniversary of the 1944 Allied landings in Normandy.

“People want peace!” the pope wrote in a June 5 message. “They want conditions of stability, security, and prosperity in which everyone can fulfill their duties and destinies with serenity. To ruin this noble order of things for ideological, nationalistic, or economic ambitions is a serious fault before mankind and before history, a sin before God.”

The pope’s prayers were conveyed in a written message to Bishop Jacques Habert of Bayeux and Lisieux in Normandy, France.

The Diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day with events promoting peace May 28–June 9, including a Franco-British ecumenical liturgy at the Bayeux Cathedral followed by a candlelight procession to the British cemetery for a prayer vigil on the evening of June 5.

On June 6, Mass was celebrated on the beaches of each of the five landing sectors, and on June 8 the diocese will offer a Mass for peace in remembrance of its 138 priests, seminarians, and religious women who lost their lives in the Second World War.

Pope Francis in his message decried the loss of life in World War II, especially the death of the many young men who were killed during the D-Day operation, as well as the civilian victims of bombardments.

“We remember the colossal and impressive collective and military effort made to restore freedom,” he said. “And we also think of the cost of this effort: these immense cemeteries where thousands of graves line up of soldiers — most of them very young, and many of them from far away — who heroically gave their lives, enabling the end of the Second World War and the restoration of peace, a peace which — at least in Europe — will have lasted almost 80 years.”

The D-Day landings, the pope said, “evoke, more generally, the disaster represented by this appalling world conflict, in which so many men, women, and children suffered, so many families were torn apart, so much ruin was wrought.”

“It would be pointless and hypocritical to remember it without condemning and rejecting it definitively,” he underlined, recalling St. Paul VI’s appeal at the United Nations on Oct. 4, 1965: “Never again war!”

The pope said he finds it worrying that there is serious consideration of the possibility of another generalized conflict in the world.

“If, for several decades, the memory of past errors has underpinned a firm determination to do everything possible to prevent another open world conflict, I note with sadness that this is no longer the case today, and that men have short memories,” he said. “May this commemoration help us to recover it!”

Pope Francis called for prayers for all the victims of wars, past and present, and asked God to welcome all those who have died in those conflicts.

“Let us pray,” he said, “for the men who want wars, those who start them, stir them up senselessly, maintain and prolong them uselessly, or cynically profit from them. May God enlighten their hearts and set before their eyes the trail of misfortune they provoke!”

He also prayed for peacemakers: “Wanting peace is not cowardice; on the contrary, it requires the greatest courage, the courage to know how to renounce something. Even if the judgment of men is sometimes harsh and unjust toward them, ‘the peacemakers will be called sons of God’ (Mt 5:9).”

“May God have mercy on us!” the pope said.

This article was originally published on Catholic News Agency.


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Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.

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