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 CNS Story:

POPE-WAR Feb-25-2014 (510 words) xxxi

Victims of war, conflict deserve mourning, not indifference, pope says

Flowers and rosaries are seen Feb. 24 at the site in Kiev where people have been killed in recent clashes protesting against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. (CNS/Reuters)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis urged people to overcome indifference and to mourn for the innumerable victims of war and conflict around the world.

He also condemned those who profit from the manufacturing of weapons and "live large," lounging in their "parlors" while children in refugee camps starve.

In a Mass homily Feb. 25, the pope focused on the day's first reading from the Book of St. James and the causes of divisions and conflict.

"Where do wars and arguments among you come from," he asked during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

"War, hatred and hard feelings, you don't buy them at a store, they are here in the heart," emerging out of people's passions, he said.

"So many people are dying over a piece of land or because of ambition, hatred, racial jealousy," he said. "Passion brings us to war, to the spirit of the world."

Every day, the news talks about yet another war and more victims, but "the dead seem to be part of the day's bookkeeping," a mere tallying up of numbers, he said.

"We have become used to reading these things" and not being moved by the lives lost, he said; "It seems that the spirit of war has taken possession of us."

The pope said people commemorate the anniversary of some "Great War" and are saddened and outraged by the millions of lives lost. However, there is no outrage over the same thing happening today: "Instead of a big war, there are little wars all over the place, peoples divided," he said.

"To protect their own interests, people are murdering each other, killing each other," he said, and even when peace efforts are made, the same "language of war" is being used.

"Think about the starving children in refugee camps. Just think about that one thing. This is the fruit of war. And if you want, think about the huge parlors, the parties the owners of the arms industries throw, those who build the arms" that end up where these children lived.

The pope asked those gathered for the Mass to reflect on these two images: "the sick, starving child in the refugee camp and the huge parties, the good life those who manufacture arms live."

But war is also present in people's homes and neighborhoods, he said. Families are torn apart "because fathers and mothers aren't able to find the path of peace and prefer war, to sue ...."

St. James offers from simple advice: "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" because it's when people's hearts are distanced from God that "war is born," the pope said.

Pope Francis urged people to pray for peace, "for that peace that seems to have become just a word and nothing more," and to mourn, lament and weep over the loss of so many lives.

As the apostle says, "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you" and "save us from becoming used to news about war," the pope said.


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