Pope Francis has reminded Italy’s military police corps that their vocation is service.
The Pope was speaking in St. Peter’s Square after meeting nearly 50,000 members of the Carabinieri who are celebrating the bicentenary of their founding.
The Holy Father also chose the occasion to announce that, on September 13, to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, he will pray at the Italian military monument of Redipuglia for all those who have died in all wars.
In his address, which followed a Mass celebrated by the Military Ordinary of Italy, the Pope said that between the Carabinieri and the people there exists “a bond of solidarity, trust and dedication to the common good.”
“Your vocation is service,” he stressed, adding that this vocation is made manifest in “the protection of individuals and the environment, in action for security, the respect for the rules for civil co-existence and the common good.”
The Pope said their service is also “a concrete and constant commitment to the defence of the rights and duties of individuals and communities.” The maintenance of public order and personal safety, he continued, “is an increasingly current issue in a dynamic, open society committed to the protection of civil rights and liberties, such as Italy, where you serve.”
He reminded them that since their Carabinieri ‘stations’ are present throughout the national territory, and are “even in the most remote and peripheral towns and villages,” they have even more responsibility.
“Never cease to give everywhere, in your homeland and elsewhere, a clear and joyful witness of humanity, especially towards the neediest and least fortunate,” the Pope said.
“This capillary presence,” he stated, “requires you to participate in the life of the community to which you belong, seeking to be close to the problems faced by the people, especially the weakest and those in difficulty.”
He commented also on their notable efforts beyond national borders as “peacemakers, to ensure security, respect for human dignity and the defence of human rights in countries racked by conflicts and tensions of every type.”
Reflecting on the history of the Carabinieri Corps, Pope Francis recalled the example of one of the corps’ members, Servant of God Salvo d’Acquisto, who aged 23 in Palidoro, near Rome, “offered his young existence to save the lives of innocent people from Nazi brutality.” (D.C.L.)