Pope: Military Personnel Must Be “Ministers of Peace”

Meets With Bishops of Ordinariates and Chaplains

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI said those in the military must be “ministers of peace,” and the work of spiritual assistance that the Church offers them must contribute to this objective.

The Pope explained this today when meeting with participants in the 5th International Congress of Military Ordinariates which are, so to speak, dioceses for those who work in their country’s armed forces.

The meeting, an initiative of the Congregation for Bishops, which oversees the ordinariates, is being held through Friday in the Vatican’s Old Synod Hall. Its theme is “The Military at the Service of Peace.”

Addressing military bishops and chaplains from all over the world, the Holy Father quoted the 1986 apostolic constitution “Spirituali Militum Curae,” which covers the canonical regulation of spiritual assistance for the military in the light of the Second Vatican Council.

That document states that those who engage in military service can consider themselves “ministers of the security and freedom of peoples,” as “if they fulfill their duty correctly, they also truly contribute to the stability of peace.”

The Pontiff exhorted the military bishops and chaplains to help “military men to be authentic experts and teachers of what the Church teaches and practices in view of the building of peace in the world.”

The “Church’s teaching on the topic of peace is an essential aspect of its social doctrine,” he observed. The Church’s vision “has influenced Western culture, promoting the ideal that the armed forces be at the exclusive service of the defense and security of nations.”

“Unfortunately,” the Holy Father added, “on occasions other interests, economic and political, fomented by international tensions, make this constructive tendency meet with obstacles and delays, as can be seen with the difficulties that disarmament processes are experiencing.”

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