Sunday, July 22, 2007

Peace in the "Garden"

Departing again from his traditional Angelus practice of some words on the Sunday readings, near his respite in Lorenzago the Pope today issued an impassioned cry for an end to war.

The English translation:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In these restful days that, thank God, I'm spending here in Cadore, I feel even more intensely the sorrowful impact of the news reaching me on the bloody conflicts and episodes of violence that are playing themselves out in many parts of the world. This leads me to reflect once again on the drama of human liberty in the world. The beauty of nature recalls for us that we're placed by God to "cultivate and care for" this "garden" that is the Earth (cf Gen 2:8-17). If men wish to live in peace with God and among themselves, the Earth would truly resemble "paradise." Unfortunately, sin has ruined this divine project, generating divisions and entering death into the world. And so, it comes with that that men give in to the temptations of Evil and make war against each other. The consequence is that, in this stupendous "garden" that is the world, the space of the "inferno" has opened itself.

With its trail of mourning and destruction, war is always rightly considered a calamity that contrasts with the project of God, who has created all things for survival and, in particular, wants to make a family of the whole human race. I cannot, in this moment, go forward without the thought of a significant date: the 1st of August 1917 -- now 90 years ago -- my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, released his celebrated Note to the belligerent powers [the "Peace Note"], asking that they might bring an end to the first World War. While this immense conflict raged, the Pope had the courage of affirming that it turned itself into a "useless slaughter." This expression of his engraved itself in history. It justified itself in the actual situation of that 1917 summer, especially on this Venetian front. But those words, "useless slaughter," contain also a larger value, a more prophetic one, and might be able to apply themselves to the many other conflicts that have taken down innumerable human lives.

These very places in which we find ourselves, which themselves speak of peace and harmony, were a theatre of the first World War, as they also reinvoke many stories and moving songs of the Alps. They are events not to be forgotten! We need to make a treasury of the negative experiences that our fathers sadly suffered, that they might not be repeated. The Note of Pope Benedict XV didn't limit itself to condemning war; it marked out, on a juridical plain, ways to build a full and lastin peace: the moral force of law, bilateral and monitored disarmament, arbitration in controversies, the freedom of the sea, the reciprocal forgiveness of war funds, the restitution of occupied territories and other acts to settle the questions. The proposal of the Holy See was oriented to the future of Europe and the world, seconding a Christian project in inspiration, but one shared by all as the foundation of the peoples' right. It's the same appeal that the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II followed in their memorable speeches to the Assembly of the United Nations, repeating, in the name of the Church: "Never again war!" From this place of peace, which also warns of how unacceptable are the horrors of "useless slaughter," I renew the appeal to follow with tenacity the way of law, to refuse with determination the course of arms, to reject ever more widely the temptation of confronting new situations with old systems.

With these thoughts and ends at heart, let us now lift a special prayer for peace in the world, entrusting it to Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....

AP/Antonio Calanni