Lately there have been commemoration services to mark the100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele in which more than 200,000 men are known to have been killed. Altogether it is estimated that more than 18 million died in the First World War - 11 million military and seven million civilians - making it one of the most deadly conflicts in human history.
A hundred years ago today, 1 August 1917, Pope Benedict XV issued his Peace Note to the 'Belligerent Leaders'.
Giacomo della Chiesa was elected Pope in September 1914, only weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. On the centenary of that tragic development, a new booklet by Fr Ashley Beck examines how he (Benedict XV) and so many others worked courageously to stop the carnage - against all the odds.
Arguably now, as then, he remains a dishonoured prophet who yet offers a lasting example to all who seek peace and an end to war. His example is ever more inspiring in this centenary year to a world so troubled with violence, hatred and wars.
Fr Ashley Beck is Assistant Priest of Beckenham in the Archdiocese of Southwark. He is also Dean of Studies of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Programme for ten dioceses in southern England and Wales, and Lecturer in Pastoral Ministry at St Mary's University College, Twickenham.
For more information see: www.ctsbooks.org/benedict-xv-and-world-war-i/
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