NETTUNO, Italy (AP) – Pope Francis called war “the destruction of ourselves” during visits Thursday to an American military cemetery and the site of a Nazi massacre in Rome as he marked the Catholic All Souls’ Day commemorating the dead.
Francis laid flowers on 10 graves among the 7,680 American war dead buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, which also commemorates a further 3,095 who went missing in campaigns to liberate southern and central Italy from Sicily north to Rome during World War II.
Francis urged that the sight of the arcs of white headstones would stand as a call for peace, saying “no more war, no more of these useless massacres.”
The pope said that humanity hasn’t learned, or hasn’t wanted to learn, the lessons of war.
“How often in history, when men think of making war, they are convinced of bringing a new world, they are convinced that they are making spring. It ends in winter; ugly, cruel, a reign of terror, of death,” the pope said.
Calling for prayers for all the dead, the pope made special mention of those “who are dying in the battle every day,” referring again to what he has called “a war of pieces,” referring to the many eruptions of violence and attacks around the globe.
The pope has a second stop planned at the Ardeatine Caves, the site of one of the worst massacres of Nazi-occupied Rome.