Francis to the military: “the world needs its weapons at the service of peace”

This Saturday, Pope Francis sent a message to the 64th International Military Pilgrimage, which takes place in Lourdes from May 24 to 26 at the famous French sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

In the message sent through Cardinal Pietro Parolín, the Pope exhorts them: “The world needs you, especially at this dark moment in our history. We need men and women of faith, capable of putting weapons at the service of peace and fraternity.”

The Holy Father also entrusted “to the mercy of God all soldiers who have died in the service of its country or international operations in defense of peace”.

And “he invoked a particular abundance of graces on all those present in Lourdes and their families, as well as on the soldiers engaged on various fronts, on a mission to preserve peace far from their country and on those who are wounded and suffering.”

In the message, Cardinal Parolín recalls that “His Holiness Pope Francis is in spiritual communion with all of you, coming from diverse horizons” and that “the pilgrimage is an opportunity for everyone to renew their baptismal commitment, to encounter Christ, in particular listening to his word, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation and participating in the Eucharist.”

He thus invites them to belive that this spiritual pause in Lourdes is a moment to rethink their military vocation from the perspective of faith, and the love that every Christian must cultivate towards his brother, even towards his enemy.

“Dear soldiers, the message continues, the Pope invites you to stand up and walk with courage and perseverance. Be soldiers upright and proud to honor your uniform, your motto and your country, but also aware that you are part of a single human family, a family torn and wounded, but one that Christ came to redeem and save with the strength of the love, not with the violence of weapons. Be ‘sentinels of peace’, as Saint John Paul II said.”

Among the events of the three days are the daily mass, the international military ceremony on the Rosary esplanade; the meeting of the future baptized and confirmed; the Way of the Cross of the Espélengues, an Eucharistic procession on the esplanade of the sanctuary; three events ‘In the footsteps of Bernadette’, the concerts of the Italian and German delegation, and the Marian procession.