Pope Francis meeting volunteers of the  Italian Civil Protection Service Pope Francis meeting volunteers of the Italian Civil Protection Service   (Vatican Media)

Pope to Italian Civil Protection: ‘Every war goes against principles of the UN'

Pope Francis meets with volunteers of the Italian Civil Protection Department, and laments the destruction of war as a betrayal of the principles of the United Nations to protect humanity.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis on Monday thanked volunteers of the Italian Civil Protection Service, the national emergency management agency, for their “silent service” during the Covid-19 crisis and, more recently, for refugees from war-torn Ukraine, remarking that “good makes no noise, but builds the world.”

The Italian Civil Protection Service (Protezione Civile) was officially established in 1992 to ensure the presence of human resources and means in every area of the country, as well as operational, organizational and decision-making capacities, so as to be able to intervene in a timely and effective manner in case of natural and humanitarian disasters, but also to prevent and foresee  them. Its origins go back to the mid-seventies, following the devastating earth-quake in Northern Italy’s region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Helping during the pandemic

Addressing some 400 volunteers, Pope Francis commended the good work done by the Protezione Civile for fragile families, the elderly, the poor and the most vulnerable during the peak of the pandemic. He also praised its efforts to assist Ukrainian refugees in Italy, especially women and children. 

The Pope noted that this service reminds us of the Good Samaritan and is a concrete expression of true fraternity. Indeed, he said, the verb "to protect" indicates taking care of our brothers and protecting and preserving life.

Three actions of protection: solidarity

Pope Francis called attention to three aspects related to the idea of “protection”.

“The first protection we need," he said, "is that from social isolation.” He noted, in this regard, that the pandemic has shown how intertwined we are with each other and therefore that “no one is saved alone”. The same applies to other crisis emerged in recent years, including refugees fleeing wars and consequences of climate change.

War is a defeat of human capacity to protect

Referring specifically to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Holy Father highlighted that “every war marks a defeat of the human capacity to protect” and is a “betrayal of the solemn commitments of the United Nations”. 

“Today, in the face of what is happening in Ukraine, we repeat: ‘Never again war!’ and we protect the sacred right of peoples to peace.”

Nature never forgives

The second type of protection to be promoted is that against environmental disasters. Noting that “nature never forgives”, as shown by the devasting effects of climate change, Pope Francis reiterated the urgent need to listen to the “cry of the earth”.

"We are called to protect the world and not to pillage it,” he said.


The third action needed to protect is that of prevention, which should involve all local administrators. In this regard, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of forming consciences “so that the common goods are not abandoned or used only to the advantage of a few” and the need “to be vigilant so that adverse events do not unleash irreparable disasters on people."

“It is also important to educate to beauty, to preserve traditions, cultures and social experiences,” he added. “By doing this, you become artisans of hope”, a virtue which looks “beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile,” said the Pope. 

To protect is to take care

“To protect is therefore to take care,” Pope Francis concluded, noting that “we know how to do this with tenderness only if we recognize that we are the first ones to be taken care of by God our Father" , who does not “let us lack His love”.

In his concluding remarks, the Holy Father also praised the great longstanding Italian tradition of volunteering: “It is a treasure: preserve it!” he said.

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23 May 2022, 13:47