Pope Francis' words against religious justification for war
By Andrea Tornielli
"In the name of God, I ask you: stop this massacre!" Pope Francis cried out during his Angelus on Sunday, 13 March, the day of the ninth anniversary of his election as Bishop of Rome. During his appeal, the Pope recalled the victims of Mariupol, as well as the "barbarity of the killing of children, innocents and unarmed civilians". He also asked for an end to what he unequivocally called "an unacceptable armed aggression" before it "reduces cities to cemeteries" and he expressed his gratitude for the welcome given to the many refugees before, finally, asking everyone to increase moments of prayer for peace.
In the final part of his message, Francis was clear and firm on the distorted use of religion to justify the ongoing massacres: "God is only the God of peace, he is not the God of war and those who support violence profane his name". These are the same expressions that have been used many times in recent years by the Pontiff and his predecessors, St John Paul II and Benedict XVI, to warn against the instrumental use of God's name to justify hatred, violence and terrorism.
This time, however, those being addressed in the papal appeal are not jihadist fundamentalists, but anyone who thinks there may be a religious "cover" - a religious explanation to offer believers - for the war in Ukraine in which Christians who share the same baptism are falling under the bombs.