Graves of fallen soldiers call for peace, pope says on feast of the dead


Pope Francis holds white roses as he visits the graves of the French military cemetery before celebrating Mass for the Feast of All Souls at the cemetery in Rome on November 2, 2021 (CNS Photo / Remo Casilli, Reuters)

ROME (CNS) – Headstones of soldiers killed in war today call on people to end all wars and stop the production of weapons, Pope Francis said.

“I am sure that all those who have gone with good will (to war), called by their country to defend it, are with the Lord”, he declared, celebrating the mass of the feast of All Souls , November 2, to the French. Rome military cemetery.

“But we, who travel (on earth), are we fighting enough that there will be no more wars, so there will no longer be national economies fortified by the arms industry?” He asked.

An easing of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Pope Francis to resume his usual practice of celebrating the Feast of All Souls Mass at a cemetery – in or near Rome – but only around 250 people were in attendance. Last year he presided over a private mass in a chapel, then visited and blessed graves in a small cemetery inside the Vatican.

The Italian government created the French Military Cemetery to honor French soldiers who fought Nazi and Fascist forces on Italian soil from 1943 to 1944. Nearly 2,000 French soldiers are buried here, many of them Moroccan soldiers who served under the orders of French officers. Among those present at the mass was Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the highest court of the Vatican, born in Marrakech, Morocco, of French parents.

The Pope drove to the perched cemetery a few miles north of the Vatican and placed white roses on several graves. He prayed in silence before slowly walking down one of the rows marked with marble crosses.

“These tombs that speak, they cry out, cry out for themselves: ‘Peace!

“These graves are a message of peace,” urging people today to stop all war and calling on arms manufacturers to cease production, the pope said.

As people visit cemeteries on the day of the feast, he said, they should take the time to take a break and realize that they are on a journey that will one day end.

The journey of life shouldn’t be a quiet “walk” in the park or an impossible “maze”, he said, but it is a journey that involves effort and the understanding that there will be ” a last step “at the end of this terrestrial path.

Everyone is on a journey that involves facing “many historical realities, many difficult situations”, and cemeteries are a reminder to pause and reflect on the nature of one’s own journey and its direction, a- he declared.

Looking at the gravestones, the Pope said he saw “good people” dead in war, “dead because they were called to defend their country, to defend values, ideals and many more. times, to defend sad and regrettable political situations “.

“And they are victims, victims of the war that devours the sons and daughters of a nation,” he said, recalling a number of deadly battles fought in the twentieth century.

Graves marked “unknown” instead of a name show “the tragedy of war,” even though God always keeps everyone’s name in his heart, he said.

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Copyright © 2021 Catholic News Service / United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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