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Pope Francis at the military cemetery in Rome yesterday (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis marked All Souls’ Day yesterday by celebrating Mass at a military cemetery in Rome, calling for an end to war and the loss of innocent lives claimed in violent conflicts. Source: Crux.

Speaking at the Mass, offered for Pope Benedict XVI and all cardinals and bishops who have passed away within the past year, Francis also stressed the importance of keeping both memory and hope alive.

Some 426 fallen soldiers are buried at the cemetery, hailing from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, the Mauritius Islands, Palestine and the West Indies, representing members of the British Commonwealth.

In his brief, off-the-cuff homily, Francis said the day’s feast evokes thoughts of both “memory and hope: Memory of those who preceded us, who have spent their lives, who have ended this life; memory of the many people who have done us good: in the family, among friends.”

It is also a time to remember those “who were not able to do so much good, but were received into the memory of God, into the mercy of God. It is the mystery of the great mercy of the Lord,” he said.

Looking at the headstones in the cemetery, Francis said, “I couldn’t help but think of today’s wars. The same thing happens even today: so many young and no longer young people” are dying in wars throughout the world, he said, pointing to those “closest to us” in Europe, such as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and those farther away.

“How many deaths! Life is destroyed without being aware of it,” he said, and invoking the memory of the dead, asked God “for peace, so that people no longer kill each other in wars.”

“So many innocents dead, so many soldiers who lose their lives. But why does this happen? Wars are always a defeat, always. There is no total victory, no,” he said, noting that while one side eventually defeats the other, “Behind there is always the defeat of the price paid.”


Visiting war cemetery, Pope calls for end to innocent lives lost in conflict (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)