Pope slams 'destruction' of war during visit to cemetery in Rome

Pope Francis leaves white roses on the Ardeatine caves memorial to those massacred by German troops in March 1944- AFP

He also laid white roses on about a dozen graves of soldiers buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, located about 40 miles south of Rome.

Pope Francis made one of his most emotional anti-war addresses on Thursday, saying during a visit to a US military cemetery that the world seemed to be headed into war perhaps bigger than any before.

His words of warning and his powerful condemnation of warmongers came during his homily at the Sicily-Rome American War Cemetery some 50 kilometers south of Rome.

Francis said that remembering the many young people who died in World War II is even more important today, when "the world once more is at war and is preparing to go even more forcefully into war".

Before visiting the US military cemetery Thursday, Francis on Monday warned that "humanity risks suicide" with the increased danger of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea, the Associated Press reported.

As tensions between the United States and North Korea have increased in recent months, Francis has warned that a nuclear conflict would destroy a good part of humanity. A third country, Francis said, could "cool a situation" that had become "too hot".

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Calling for prayers for all the dead, the pope made special mention of those "who are dying in the battle every day", referring to what he has called "a war of pieces", or the many eruptions of violence and attacks around the globe.

While Trump is in Asia, the pope will be hosting an global seminar at the Vatican that will urge the banning of nuclear weapons.

The new USA ambassador to Rome, Lewis Eisenberg, was among the 5,000 in attendance.

"This is perhaps the prayer that naturally arises, looking at this cemetery, "Please Lord, stop, no more, no more war, no more this useless slaughter, as [Pope] Benedict XV said", he added.

The Pope explained that pride is the vice which leads people to seek solutions to problems through a declaration of war, and that humanity "has not learned the lesson" nor does it seem to "want to learn it". But often this hope has its roots in human suffering, such as the suffering of war.

The Pope continued to the Ardeatine Caves, the site of one of the worst massacres of Nazi-occupied Rome. The Nazi troops rounded up the Italian men and boys, who included Jews, Roman Catholics and political prisoners, and trucked them to the caves, where the victims were shot in the back of the head. Pope Francis did the same for the first three years of his pontificate, though in 2016 he chose to say the All Souls' Day Mass at Rome's Prima Porta Cemetery instead.

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