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The fading memory of the Second World War leads to fear of conflict, Pope warns


VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The horrors of the Second World War are being forgotten, raising the risk of a new global conflict, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in comments marking the 80th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings.

The Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France was a turning point in World War II, and Francis said the brutal lessons of the past had fueled the determination of succeeding generations to avoid new large-scale fighting.

“I note, unfortunately, that this is no longer the case today and that people have short memories,” the pope said in a written message, adding that he hoped the commemoration of D-Day would help fuel the desire for peace revive.

“People want peace. They want conditions of stability, security and prosperity in which everyone can quietly fulfill their duty and destiny. Destroying this noble order for ideological, nationalistic or economic ambitions is a grave mistake for humanity and history, a sin before Allah,” he said.

The D-Day anniversary comes as Ukraine continues to defend its territory against Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbor in 2022.

Francis made no mention of the conflict, nor of the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but he said that sometimes compromise is needed to end wars.

“Wanting peace is not cowardice. On the contrary, it requires the utmost courage, the courage to know how to give up something,” he said.

Francis sparked anger in Kiev in March when he said Ukraine should have the courage of the “white flag” and negotiate an end to the war with Russia.

The Vatican said at the time that he had picked up the term from his interviewer and used it to indicate the need for “a ceasefire achieved through the courage of negotiations.”

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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