Source: Vatican Media/NAID
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day with the celebration of Mass in the French town of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy where Allied troops landed in 1944.
On 6th June 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops arrived on five beachheads on the northern French coast, marking the start of France's liberation from Nazi occupiers.
Two days of memorial services in the United Kingdom and in France led to the signing, by 16 nations who fought during WWII, of a joint statement pledging to ensure the "unimaginable horror" of World War Two is not repeated.
Hundreds of elderly veterans travelled to northern France for yesterday's commemorative event, in the presence of the French and American Presidents and British Prime Minister.
Inaugurating the ceremonies in France, on Wednesday evening Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, celebrated Mass in the Basilica and gave a reflection on the need to treasure and safeguard peace in an increasingly divided world.
He told Vatican Radio he was happy to be able to contribute to this important event:
Cardinal Ouellet said he was "pleased to go and bear witness to the message of peace of the Catholic Church". He noted that in today's world, Pope Francis often decries the fact that a Third World War is being fought piecemeal, and that it is our urgent responsibility to do more to foster a culture of peace, of encounter, of dialogue.
"For me it is an opportunity to bring a deep reflection from the Catholic faith and from the commitment of the Catholic Church to dialogue" he said.
The Cardinal recalled that in 1968, Pope Saint Paul VI established the World Day of Peace, which is marked annually on 1 January.
"For over 50 years, we have had a very concrete message for the education of peace", he said, in the Catholic Church and beyond.
"It is a message offered to humanity in general," he said.
Cardinal Ouellet said it is a message that should be taught and developed in schools and in the family because, he explained, "a culture of peace begins in one's heart and in basic relationships: in the family, in schools, in society in general."
He said that if we want to build a future of peace, we need to think of peace not only as an absence of war "but as a positive culture of peace, love, justice, fraternity".
"For me," the Cardinal said, "It is an occasion to offer homage to the victims of the conflict", and he pointed out that many Canadian soldiers also participated and died.
He said it was a moment of deep emotion for him to think of these soldiers who gave their lives, and at the same time remember that millions died in Europe.
"When we remember we also make a commitment to do everything possible to prevent such conflict," he said.
It is also an occasion," he continued, "to remember that Canada has not lived war on its own territory, and this, he said, "is a blessing not to have suffered in our own land."
"I thank the Lord for this grace," the Cardinal concluded, "and at the same time I feel committed to do even more to foster a culture of peace and dialogue in the world."
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