Italy: An open letter from Pax Christi Italy, following the proclamation of Pope John XXIII as patron of the Italian army
The following letter was coordinated by Pax Christi Italy and signed by a number of members of the Pax Christi International network, including Pax Christi International Co-Presidents Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling. The letter was addressed to Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
We, women and men who believe in building peace by means of peace, intend to manifest our deep disappointment with the declaration of Saint John XXIII, Pope, as "Patron to God of the Italian Army". We are actually convinced that the life and works of the Holy Pope cannot be associated with the armed forces.
How can he himself, the Pope of Pacem in Terris, the Pope of the Second Vatican Council, the man of dialogue ... protect an armed body that, by its nature, embraces means of death and destruction?
It was stated that Pope John XXIII was chosen as the patron of the army because, as a young priest he had been a military chaplain during World War I, and because he often visited military groups as Pontifical Nuncio, and because as a Pontiff, he remembered his pastoral service in the army as "unforgettable". It seems to us that such a justification is somewhat weak and it risks pulling the canonicals of the "good pope" for improper purposes, forgetting the human and spiritual evolution that has made this pastor for more than half a century the emblem of peace and rejection of war for believers and non-believers. Nor can one forget that he contributed in a singular way to ward off the danger of a world conflict, mediating between the United States and the Soviet Union to overcome the "missile crisis in Cuba."...