ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE— On his way to Krakow to participate in World Youth Day, a week-long Catholic celebration that’s often labeled as the religious version of Woodstock, Pope Francis denounced what he described as a worldwide war.
“But it’s a real war, not a religious war,” Francis told journalists travelling with him to Poland.
“It’s a war of interests, a war for money. A war for natural resources and for the dominion of the peoples. Some might say it’s a religious war. Every religion wants peace. The war is wanted by the others. Understood?” he said.
The pope spoke twice during the short flight from Rome to Krakow.
First, as soon as the plane took off, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi asked him to give a few words to reporters, adding that he might want to address “what’s going on in the world today, what happened yesterday.”
Francis readily agreed, saying that when the world talks about “unsafety” the actual word that should be used is “war.”
He also referred to the murder of French priest Jacques Hamel, slain on Tuesday by two Islamic terrorists as he was saying Mass.
“This holy priest who died in the very moment he was offering a prayer for the whole Church, is [only] one, but there are so many Christians, so many innocents, so many children … let’s think about Nigeria … ‘But it’s Africa’ … But it’s war!”
“Let’s not be afraid to say the truth. The world is at war, because it’s lost its peace!”
The pope also said that this might not be as “organic” as other wars, mentioning the two world wars by giving their dates and other “big wars.” However, he said, the one going on now is “an organized” one.
Francis has often spoken about a “piecemeal war,” but this time he avoided this expression, describing the current global situation with armed conflicts in several regions, such as in the Ukrainian border with Russia, and terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Boko Haram not only in the Middle East or Africa, as well as violence in many Western countries such as the United States, France and Brussels.
Speaking about the youth, the motive behind his July 27-31 visit to the land of St. John Paul II, Francis said that the young always give hope.
“Let’s hope the tell us something that gives us some more hope in this moment.”
Before ending these remarks, he thanked the French President Francoise Hollande for calling him on Tuesday to express his regret over the death of Hamel.
Hamel, 85, was murdered as he was celebrating the morning Mass for a small community: three nuns and two faithful. One of the sisters managed to escape and alert the authorities, and her action probably saved the lives of the others.
Before slitting his throat, the perpetrators, self-declared members of the terrorist Islamic organization ISIS, forced Hamel to kneel down. They said a prayer in Arabic, and killed him with a knife in his church, in the small city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in rural Normandy.
After these short remarks, Pope Francis took the time to great each of the more than 70 journalists who will accompany him during these days, and even taped a short video for Crux, addressed to the thousands of volunteers who, during these days won’t be able to participate in the papal events because they’ll be working to make sure that all go smoothly.
“Dear volunteers, greetings from me, specially to those from Argentina, who for what I’m told are very brave. Go on, and pray for me… and don’t get lazy!” he said.
On his way back to the front of the plane he decided to clarify his remarks regarding the current state of war, adding the words about this not being a religious war but a real one.