It has been 100 years since the beginning of the First World War and the centennial anniversary of the conflict has caused many to reflect on the effects and causation of global war. Some believe that a third world war is just around the corner while others see today’s global war on terror to be the modern day incarnation of world war.
In a visit to a World War I monument that commemorates the death of 100,000 Italian soldiers that died fighting against the Austro-Hungarian army, Pope Francis made remarks that would lead one to believe that he is amongst leaders that are of the impression that a third world war has already begun.
In this regard the Pope stated,
“Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”
Throughout his time in the papacy, he has frequently spoken of the tragedy of war and he has made repeated pleas for the end of the world’s current conflicts such as the ones in the Middle East and the Ukraine.
In his recent speech, the Pope condemned war and the motives of those who wage war by saying,
“War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying.”
While the Pope has consistently opposed conflict and war, he has also seems to understand that some situations can only be resolved and brought to a peaceful conclusion through the use of force. Most specifically, he has condemned the concept of Holy War and the use of religion to justify war, aggression and hatred. In this respect, he is primarily talking about groups like ISIS that have supported their acts of violence and brutality by claiming that it is justified by their religious beliefs.
Pope Francis is right in regard to the fact that war is terrible and that it should never be entered into lightly. However, there are cases where force is the only answer to the unjustified aggression of groups that would seek to massacre and terrorize innocent people in the name of ideologies like nationalism and religion.