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The Pope’s questions about peace

A child emerges from the Azovstal steel plant during UN-led evacuations, after nearly two months of ...
06 May 2022

“I wonder… if peace is truly being sought…” Pope Francis chose to present in the form of questions the doubts that grip many and which are growing as the military escalation in the war in Ukraine increases. There is a troubling military escalation in an increasingly devastating conflict that is taking its toll on the defenceless civilian population, and that goes hand in hand with an increase in verbal threats, total demonization of the adversary, and speculations about possible nuclear attacks.

The continuation of the war of aggression perpetrated by the Russian army against Ukraine; the race to rearmament; the lack of strong initiatives at the international level — all these show that the opinions of those who consider armed conflict, the return to the past and to the old ‘patterns’ of war (that we had hoped were outdated) to be inevitable are increasingly asserting themselves.

“While we are witnessing a macabre regression of humanity,” said the Pope, “I wonder, along with so many anguished people, if peace is truly being sought; whether there is the will to avoid a continued military and verbal escalation; whether everything possible is being done to silence the weapons.”

The difficulty in answering Francis’ questions in the affirmative is obvious. “We all want peace,” is the answer of the world’s leaders. But this willingness in words — if it is expressed at all — is not transformed into creative determination and a genuine willingness to negotiate. They talk about peace and continue to apply what the Pope called the “pattern of war.”

Some days ago, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, expressing the hope for a new Helsinki Conference, said: “Looking at what has happened in recent decades should convince us of the need to trust more in international bodies and their development, and try to make them more of a ‘common home,’ where everyone feels represented. At the same time, it should convince us of the need to build a new system of international relations, no longer based on deterrence and military force: this is a priority. And it is a priority because, if we do not reflect on this, if we do not work for this, we are destined to run towards the abyss of total war”.

This is why the Successor of Peter repeated his appeal, pleading that we “not surrender to the logic of violence, to the perverse spiral of weapons,” and that we finally embark on the path of dialogue and peace.


By Andrea Tornielli