DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN May 21-23, 1999 vol. 10, no. 99
NEWS & VIEWS
POPE CALLS NATO TO DIALOGUE ON KOSOVO WAR
Remembers Participants in Heroic Battle of Montecassino
VATICAN CITY, MAY 19 (ZENIT).- At the end of his audience this morning with close to 15,000 pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about the urgency to return to peace in Yugoslavia through dialogue and negotiation. These needs, as well as the issue of the "just war," have been constantly on the Pope's mind over the last few weeks.
The occasion was propitious when the Pope greeted 120 members of the NATO Defense College, and 2,500 Polish compatriots who came to Rome to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the memorable battle of Monte Cassino.
"I am always pleased to greet the NATO Defense College, recognizing your organization's role in the service of peace. Today, unfortunately, the Balkans are without peace, and we are witnesses daily of the great suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters. I urge you to keep clearly before you the need for everyone to work to insure that dialogue and negotiation will succeed in bringing an end to violence in the area," the Pope told them.
When greeting his compatriots, who were led by Cardinal Josef Glemp, Primate of Poland, the Pope addressed the soldiers who took part in the battle of Monte Cassino, "inscribed forever in the history of Poland and Europe."
John Paul II was referring to the battle for the conquest of the Benedictine monastery, a powerful obstacle in 1944 to the progress of the Allied Armies who fought all the way up the Italian peninsula on their way to Rome. Among the many incidents was the battle of an Anglo-Polish division of 300,000 soldiers, in which 150,000 died. The German force had 60,000 men, 20,000 of whom lost their life. In addition, 6,577 Frenchmen, of a division of 15,000 soldiers, died. The Polish regiments were in the font lines of the assault which, as the numbers reveal, had extremely heavy casualties.
According to the Holy Father, who had personal friends among the victims,
the "Polish soldier fought for a just cause." It is important to understand
the reasons which justified the use of arms against the Nazi domination.
The Poles were fighting to guarantee "the right of the nation's existence,
to independent existence, to social life in the spirit of national
convictions and religious traditions, and the sovereignty of the State
itself," the Pope explained.
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NEWS & VIEWS