The Spirit of War (2/15/14)

Pope Francis: The Spirit of War Draws Us Away from God, Vatican Radio, 2/25/14

“War is a scandal to be mourned every day. We see war in the newspapers ever and we’re used to reading about it: the number of its victims is just part of our daily accounts. We hold events to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and everyone is scandalized by the many millions of dead. But today it’s the same… instead of one great war, there are small wars everywhere. When we were children in Sunday School and we were told the story of Cain and Abel, we couldn’t accept that someone would kill their own brother. And yet today millions kill their own brothers and we’re used to it: there are entire peoples divided, killing each other over a piece of land, a racial hatred, an ambition.

Think of the children starving in refugee camps… these are the fruits of war. And then think of the great dining rooms, of the parties held by those who control the arms industry, who produce weapons. Compare a sick, starving child in a refugee camp with the big parties, the good life led by the masters of the arms trade. And remember, that the wars, the hatred, the hostility aren’t products we buy at the market: they’re right here, in our hearts. The Apostle James gives us a simple piece of advice: ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’ But the spirit of war, which draws us away from God, doesn’t just reside in distant parts of the world: the spirit of war comes from our own hearts.

Let us pray for peace, Pope Francis concluded, for that peace which seems to have been reduced to a word and nothing more. Let us follow James’ advice: ‘Recognize your misery.’ Let us recognize, the Pope prayed, that misery which breeds wars within families, within neighborhoods, everywhere. How many of us weep when we read the newspapers, when we see the dead on television? This is what Christians should do today, in the face of war: we should weep, we should mourn.

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