Greeting the participants of this week’s formation course - entitled, “The Loss of Personal Freedom in the Context of Armed Conflicts: The Mission of the Military Chaplain”- Pope Francis began by reiterating the need “to reject the temptation of viewing the other as merely an enemy to be destroyed, and not as a person endowed with intrinsic dignity, created by God in his image.”
The violation of rights
He added that “often, persons detained in the context of armed conflicts are victims of violations of their fundamental rights.”
How many civilians, the Pope said, “have been kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and killed. Among these, we can count numerous men and women religious of whom we hear nothing more…”
Pope Francis pointed out that “respect for the dignity and physical integrity of the human person, in fact, cannot depend upon the actions they have done, but is a moral duty to which every person and every authority is called.”
During his address, the Pontiff encouraged the ordinaries and military chaplains present, to spare no effort to make sure the norms of international humanitarian law are accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to their pastoral care.
The Pope stressed in particular the need for “an educational effort alongside that of families and Christian communities.” He further described how this “involves instilling the values of friendship, understanding, tolerance, goodness, and respect for all persons.” He also said, it meant, “forming young people who are sensitive to other cultures and their richness and committed to a global citizenship, in order to promote the growth of the one great human family.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis highlighted the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
The Pope said that on this seventieth anniversary, he wanted to “reaffirm the importance the Holy See gives to international humanitarian law and to express the hope that its norms will be respected in every circumstance.” Pope Francis added that, “the latter should be further clarified and reinforced where appropriate, especially with regard to non-international armed conflicts, and in particular with regard to the protection of persons deprived of freedom because of these conflicts.”