It is known that John Paul II has never been a pacifist; he himself has said so many times. For him there’s war, and then there’s war. He is capable of opposing with extreme vigor a war that he judges mistaken: and he did so, in 2003, against the war in Iraq. But he does not hesitate to declare his support and arguments in favor of a war he believes to be just. And he did so in regard to the battle of Monte Cassino, in his message to President Kwasniewski.
Here are the pope’s words as scripted:
“Every Pole remembers proudly that battle (Monte Cassino in WWII), which, thanks to the heroism of the army commanded by General Anders, opened to the allies the way to the liberation of Italy and the defeat of the Nazi invaders. At the military cemetery of Monte Cassino there are tombs on which were placed Latin or Greek crosses, and also tombstones with the star of David. It is there that the fallen heroes rest, united by the ideal of fighting for ‘our freedom and yours’, which embraces within itself the love of one’s own country, but also concern for the political and spiritual independence of other nations. All felt the duty of opposing, at all costs, not only the treading down of individuals and nations, but also the attempt to annihilate their culture and their spiritual identity.”
The next day, Wednesday, May 19, in his weekly general audience, John Paul II repeated and developed the same thoughts in greeting the Polish pilgrims who were present.
A reminder here that the Holy Father, though not a war mongering, is not a pacifist either.