World

Pope Francis prays 
for end to all wars

The Pope visits US World War II cemetery, makes emotional address

ROME: Pope Francis made one of his most emotional anti-war addresses on Thursday, saying during a visit to a US military cemetery that the world seemed to be headed into war perhaps bigger than any before.

He said this at a Mass for several thousand people at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in the town of Nettuno, south of the Italian capital, on the day Roman Catholics commemorate their dead.

The burial ground is the final resting place for 7,860 American soldiers who died in the liberation of southern Italy and Rome in 1943 and 1944.

The Pope walked alone amid the rows of white headstones in the shape of crosses and Stars of David, resting a white rose on about a dozen and stopping to pray silently before the Mass.

"Please Lord, stop. No more wars. No more of these useless massacres," he said in hushed tones in an improvised homily.

Pope Francis said remembering the many young people who died in World War II was even more important "today that the world once more is at war and is preparing to go even more forcefully into war".

He did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to the possibility of nuclear war.

Later, he and Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni each read a prayer.

After walking past the tombs, the Pope wrote in the visitors' book: "This is the fruit of war: hate, death, vendetta. Forgive us Lord".

As tensions between the US and North Korea have increased in recent months, Pope Francis has warned that a nuclear conflict would destroy a good part of humanity.

US President Donald Trump will visit South Korea this month.

While he is in Asia, the Pope will be hosting an international seminar at the Vatican that will urge the banning of nuclear weapons.

The cemetery Mass was attended by US Ambassador to Italy Lewis Eisenberg and the acting US Ambassador to the Vatican Louis Bono.

"If today is a day of hope, it is also a day of tears.

"Humanity has not learned the lesson and seems that it does not want to learn it," the Pope said, asking for prayers for the victims of today's conflicts.

On his way back to the Vatican, Pope Francis stopped to pray at the Ardeatine Caves, where in March 1944 occupying Nazis killed 335 Italian men and boys as a reprisal for the killing of 33 German policemen by partisans. Seventy-five of the victims were Jews. - REUTERS

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