Pope Francis encourages researchers and experts of the European Institute for International Studies in Salamanca to never give up forging forward on the path to peace.
By Linda Bordoni
“Peace among men is an essential good for which we must work zealously and fervently beseech God,” Pope Francis said, reiterating his belief that “every war leaves the world worse off than it found it.”
The Pope was addressing members of the European Institute for International Studies, based in Salamanca, Spain, whose work in education in international relations aims to prepare leaders to make a difference in the building of a better world.
Reflecting on the concept of peace, the Pope said peace is a challenge “that it is not simply based on balances of power or on silencing the just demands of the less favoured”; but is instead an “essential good for which we must work zealously and fervently beseech God.”
He noted that, unfortunately, the current situation can only highlight the fact that war always represents a defeat for humanity.
And he decried the fact that the past 100 years have been rife with conflict and man-made destruction.
Three world wars in the last century
Bitterly recalling the fact that there have been three world wars in this last century, including the current one that is also manifested in the war in Ukraine, he pointed to the profitable manufacture of weapons.
“A year without manufacturing weapons would solve the problem of hunger in the world,” the Pope said, and he raised the concerning idea that it appears mankind has “a belligerent orientation towards destruction.”
He invited those present to reflect on the fact that current weapons technology is such that “with just one bomb you can destroy an entire city,” and said: “What do we expect? We are going in this direction, it seems that we do not understand this.
“War is terrible,” Pope Francis repeated, “However, we must not give up.”
Speaking off the cuff, the Pope recalled the grief he felt when he visited a war cemetery in 2014. Ever since then, he said, every 2 November he visits a cemetery to commemorate the deaths of thousands of boys who were killed in wars.
It’s all very well to celebrate the end of Nazism and the liberation of Europe, he continued, but it is essential not to forget the human drama of war: “War is terrible. And we must make something new out of this failure, find in it a lesson for life.”
Finally, the Holy Father offered words of encouragement saying that “what seems like a defeat and a cause for shame can, like the scandal of the Cross, turn into a victory.”
Through prayer and work, he said, we must try to bring solutions.