On the eve of the 100th anniversary of World War I’s beginning, Pope Francis issued a cry against war.

It’s time to stop war, fighting and conflicts, which do nothing but kill and maim, leaving children unexploded ordnance for toys and lives without happiness, Pope Francis said at the end of July in a dramatic Sunday noon appeal from the window of the Apostolic Palace.

“Never war!” he said. “Never war! I think most of all about children, whose hopes for a dignified life, a future, are dashed, dead children, wounded children, mutilated children, orphans, children who have the leftovers of war for toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Stop it, please! I beg you with all my heart! It’s time to stop!” The Pope made his appeal after praying the noon Angelus with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square July 27.

The Pope’s plea came as he recalled the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War on the following day. Beginning on July 28, 1914, the “Great War” left “millions of victims and immense destruction,” Pope Francis said.

The reigning pontiff at the time, Pope Benedict XV, called it a “useless massacre.” But it continued for four long years.
Francis said July 28 this year would be “a day of mourning” and a chance for people to remember the lessons of history. “I hope people will not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said.

Highlighting the crises in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine, the Pope called for continued prayers so that the leaders and the people there would have the wisdom and will needed to choose peace with determination and face problems with “the tenacity of dialogue and negotiations.”

“Let’s remember that everything is lost with war and nothing is lost with peace,” he said. He urged that all decisions be based on respect for others and the common good — not personal interests.

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