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Against nationalism

· Memorial for the centennial of the first world war ·

Throughout the world celebrations are being held in commemoration of 100 years from the start of the First World War, a tragedy which shocked the entire European continent with more than six million deaths, but would still not be enough to prevent, not many years later, a second, even more expansive conflict.

In London on Monday, 4 August, Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, presided at a Mass in the Cathedral with numerous faithful, in which the Cardinal recalled the disquietude when Luxembourg and Belgium were invaded and war was declared.

The Archbishop underscored that “no one could have imagined that in the following four years over ten million soldiers would have been killed as well as many millions of civilians”, indicating that it is “for them all that we pray this evening, in this Requiem Mass”. He continued in tribute: “This evening we salute their sacrifice. We commemorate their heroism, their loyalty, their bravery often in utterly impossible circumstances of horror and helplessness. And, in our Catholic tradition, we pray for them. We pray for the repose of their souls in the peaceful presence of God and we pray for the coming of that final resurrection when they will rise again, from every horrendous grave, to live for ever in the glorious presence of God. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, especially on this solemn day”.

The heart of the appeal launched by German bishops as they commemorated the triggering events of the war was to overcome “inflated nationalism” and “destructive self-interest”. The prelates also recalled the courageous acts of individual Catholics – laypersons, priests, military chaplains, bishops – who had “worked for peace and reconciliation” amid the disaster.

Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trent, Italy, participating in the 51st Alpine pilgrimage in Adamello, affirmed a forceful 'no' “to the glorification of violence and nationalism”.




St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 21, 2019