Monday, May 25, 2009

Pope calls for unified Europe at WWII site

God bless us all, this Memorial Day.

Associated Press Sun May 24, 2:27 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI prays during his visit to the Polish war cemetery in Cassino, central Italy, Sunday, May 24, 2009. Benedict XVI paid homage Sunday to the victims of World War II, visiting a Polish military cemetery at the site of a decisive battle in southern Italy and praying that peace may prevail over war today.(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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Gulf Times- May 24 1:14 PM
AFP/Cassino, Italy

Pope Benedict XVI called for a unified Europe during a visit to Cassino, central Italy, near a World War II battleground in which thousands of soldiers were killed.

“Here, where so many men lost their life in the battles fought during World War II, say a special prayer for the souls of the dead,” the German Pontiff said before thousands of believers after a mass.

Benedict said that he particularly wanted to visit the Polish cemetery, “to pay homage to the memory of all the soldiers of diverse nationality who ... lost their life”.

The Allied assault on Monte Cassino, a key stage in the battle to take nearby Rome, started in December 1943 and ran into the summer of the following year. The fierce fighting left tens of thousands of dead on both sides.

Benedict called for prayers for the end of the wars, which continued to afflict the planet.

The Pope also spoke of St Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order, whose remains are buried at Cassino.

He called for St Benedict’s spiritual example “to help people who live on this continent to remain true to their Christian foots” and to work towards a Europe of unity and solidarity, “founded on the search for justice and peace”.

During the mass, the Pope also spoke out for all those people who had lost their jobs or who were otherwise suffering from the current economic crisis.

“I express my solidarity with all those who live in a worrying position of precarity, to the workers who have been put on half-time or laid off,” he said, to applause.

He called on the public authorities and business leaders to find a solution to the blight of unemployment, and urged young people struggling to find their first job not to lose hope.

The Pope later visited the monastery that overlooks the city, which houses St Benedict’s tomb.

It is this saint who inspired the then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to take the name of Benedict as pope.


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