Where is your brother?

2013-06-04 L’Osservatore Romano

“War is madness. It is the suicide of humanity. It is an act of faith in money, which for the mighty of this earth is more important than people”. Pope Francis did not mince his words but spoke with determination and clarity, in his simple and direct language, denouncing the folly of humanity's bloody conflicts. He did it twice in a few hours time on Sunday morning, June 2. First while celebrating Mass in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae with a group of injured Italian soldiers and the families of the young men who gave their lives in peacekeeping missions, and then again at the Angelus with the numerous faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

On Italy's Republic Day, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Vincent Pelvis, military ordinary, and some chaplains, and at the end he stopped to spend time with those present, a total of about eighty people. With eyes full of tears, many brought with them photos of loved ones who are gone; others made visible the tolls of war on their bodies.

The Pope reflected on war, with words addressed directly to those present: “Today we have come to pray for the dead, the wounded, for those victims of the madness that is war: the suicide of humanity, because it kills the heart, it kills precisely the message of the Lord, it kills love”. 

Pope Francis was reminded of God's question to Cain, who out of envy killed his brother Abel: Cain, where is your brother? “Today we can hear this voice: God our Father weeps, weeps over this madness, and says to all who have power: where is your brother?... What have you done?”. Hence the invitation to pray and repeat “O Lord, have mercy on us... and forgive everyone of their sins. Because behind a war there are always sins: the sin of idolatry, to take advantage of men, to sacrifice them on the altar of power. Turn to us, Lord”, the Holy Father prayed. “We are confident that the Lord will listen to us. That he will do anything to give us the spirit of consolation”.

Those present had prepared themselves to meet with the Holy Father by the sacrament of reconciliation the previous evening. Then on Sunday afternoon, in the chapels of the barracks and other military institutions, they joined in Eucharistic adoration  led by Francis Pope in the Vatican basilica. (gianluca biccini)