On WWI’s 100th anniversary, Pope Francis addressed the crowd at St. Peter’s Square and appealed to them emotionally to stop war and follow the path of peace
His appeal was mainly to the citizens and leaders in Middle East, Iraq, and Ukraine, which are the epicenters of political unrest. As the Pope delivered the speech, his emotional breakdown was evident with his voice wavered with passion frequently.
Pope Francis started his speech by recollecting World War I and its aftereffects, how it had caused irreparable damage to the world. He then directed his audience to learn from that experience, “As we remember this tragic event, I hope that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated, but that the lessons of history will be taken into account, so that peace always prevails through patient and courageous dialogue.” The Pope also involved a sense of spirituality by quoting that the Church cannot remain silent in events of such tragic deaths caused. The Pope deeply regretted the violence caused by global unrest and asked that everyone come together in establishing world peace.
“I think above all of children, whose hopes for a dignified future are taken from them. Dead children, injured children, mutilated children, orphaned children, children whose toys are remnants of war, and children who don’t know how to smile anymore. Please stop! I ask you with all my heart. It’s time to stop! Please stop!” He reached out with this strong appeal to all the citizens gathered with the hope of reaching out to the political and social leaders involved in the unrest. He strongly condemned the killings and the overall conflict as precious lives are being lost. Children are the most innocent bystanders in these scenarios but still end up being victims as they lose their loved ones or their own lives too.
“I ask that you continue to join me in prayer so that the Lord may grant to the people and to the authorities of those areas the wisdom and strength needed to push ahead with the path of peace by addressing each dispute with the force of dialogue and reconciliation” he appealed to the citizens of Middle East.
As per the Pope, the decisions taken, mainly in the conflict regions, must not be based on any particular or self-driven interests and should be based on the common good taking into account each individual’s respect. He also highlighted that the world has lost a lot due to war and peace has never made anyone lose anything. He strongly appealed for peace on the event of 100th anniversary of World War I, trying to show the world how wars have consumed humanity in the past and that the same is happening in the present day too. He spoke about how the unrest in Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine is no less than the damage inflicted to the people during World War I, with the hope to convince the political leaders from the affected regions that wars have always damaged peace and humanity. He asked the leaders to make decisions which help establish peace, instead of causing war.
Pope Francis had also hosted leaders from Israel and Palestine for a prayer meeting for peace in June this year. This prayer was particularly aimed at decrying the impact of the violence that children are subjected to directly or indirectly. He also added that he kept thinking about all the children in war-struck regions who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life and a worthwhile future.