REDIPUGLIA, Italy: Pope Francis on Saturday denounced those who profit from the “madness” of war at a ceremony in the north west of Italy to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.
“In today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms,” he told the crowd of thousands standing in the rain at the Redipuglia cemetery.
“Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war: one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”
Around him, neat rows of graves lined Italy’s largest military graveyard in the region of Veneto, near the Slovenian border, home to the more than 100,000 soldiers killed during the Great War.
The visit, which comes as conflicts continue to rage in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, also had a personal resonance for the pope.
The pontiff’s own grandfather fought in the fierce Italian offensive against the Austro-Hungarian empire that raged in the nearby battlefields during the First World War in 1917 and 1918.
Pope Francis said the same “greed, intolerance [and]the lust for power” was driving conflicts in the world today.
“The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present,” said the pontiff.