By Trisha Thomas, Associated Press Writer
LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy (AP) _ Pope Benedict XVI called Sunday for an end to all wars, describing them as “useless slaughters” that bring hell to Earth.
Benedict, speaking from this small mountain town where he has been vacationing, recalled that 90 years ago his predecessor Pope Benedict XV urged a similar end to the first World War, then ravaging this part of northern Italy.
“While this inhuman conflict raged, the pope had the courage to affirm that it was a ‘useless slaughter,”’ Benedict said. “These words _ ‘useless slaughter’ _ contained a fuller prophetic value that can be applied to so many other conflicts that have cut off countless human lives.”
Benedict did not cite any particular conflicts in his comments to several hundred faithful who gathered in Lorenzago di Cadore’s main piazza for his traditional Sunday blessing.
“From this place of peace, where one still senses how unacceptable the horrors of ‘useless slaughters’ are, I renew the appeal to pursue the path of rights, to strongly refuse the recourse to weapons and refuse to confront new situations with old systems,” he said.
He reminded the faithful that God put man on Earth to take care of his “paradise,” but that man sinned and began making war.
Benedict has been stepping up his peace appeals, issuing a major call June 17 in the hillside town of Assisi, known for St. Francis’ message of peace. A week earlier, Benedict told President Bush he was greatly concerned about the fate of Christians in Iraq _ a concern he repeated in subsequent audiences and speeches.
Benedict’s blessing Sunday was attended by several top prelates as well as Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken critic of China’s treatment of Catholics in the underground church. Last month Benedict issued a letter to China’s 12 million Catholics, urging them to unite under his authority.