By Linda Bordoni
On 6th June 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops invaded the northern French coast, marking the start of France's liberation from the Nazi occupiers.
D-Day is remembered as a defining moment of World War II, and this year marks its 75th anniversary.
Two days of memorial services in the United Kingdom and in France led to the signing, by 16 Nations who fought during WWII, of a joint statement pledging to ensure the “unimaginable horror” of World War Two is not repeated.
Meanwhile hundreds of veterans have travelled to northern France to mark the occasion, where a commemorative event will take on June 6th at Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, in the presence of the French and American Presidents.
Inaugurating the ceremonies in France, on Wednesday evening Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, celebrates Mass in the Basilica and gives a reflection on the need to treasure and safeguard peace in an increasingly divided world.
He told Vatican Radio he is happy to be able to contribute to this important event:
Cardinal Ouellet said he is “pleased to go and bear witness to the message of peace of the Catholic Church”.
He notes that in today’s world, Pope Francis often decries the fact that a Third World War is being fought piecemeal, and that it is our urgent responsibility to do more to foster a culture of peace, of encounter, of dialogue.
“For me it is an opportunity to bring a deep reflection from the Catholic faith and from the commitment of the Catholic Church to dialogue” he said.
1st January: World Day of Peace
The Cardinal recalled that in 1968, Pope Saint Paul VI established the World Day of Peace, which is marked annually on 1 January.
“For over 50 years, we have had a very concrete message for the education of peace”, he said, in the Catholic Church and beyond.
“It is a message offered to humanity in general,” he said.
Cardinal Ouellet said it is a message that should be taught and developed in schools and in the family because, he explained, “a culture of peace begins in one’s heart and in basic relationships: in the family, in schools, in society in general”.
He said that if we want to build a future of peace, we need to think of peace not only as an absence of war “but as a positive culture of peace, love, justice, fraternity”.
Homage to those who gave their lives
“For me”, the Cardinal said, “It is an occasion to offer homage to the victims of the conflict”, and he pointed out that many Canadian soldiers also participated and died.
He said it is a moment of deep emotion for him to think of these soldiers who gave their lives, and at the same time remember that millions died in Europe.
“When we remember we also make a commitment to do everything possible to prevent such conflict,” he said.
It is also an occasion, he continued, to remember that Canada has not lived war on its own territory, and this, he said, “is a blessing not to have suffered in our own land”.
“I thank the Lord for this grace,” the Cardinal concluded, “and at the same time I feel committed to do even more to foster a culture of peace and dialogue in the world.”