NETTUNO, ITALY: Pope Francis condemned wars around the world Thursday while dedicating his thoughts to young soldiers and commemorated the dead at an American military cemetery in Italy.
"Never again war, never again this useless tragedy," said the pope inside the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, south of Rome, where 7,680 American World War II soldiers are buried.
"Pray for these young today when the world is once again at war," the pope said, adding, "with war we lose everything".
The pope held mass in front of the statue "Brothers in Arms" inside the cemetery, dedicated to the thousands of American soldiers who died during the conflict but who have never been identified.
"Men do everything to declare and make war and, in the end, they destroy themselves" said the pope, adding that war is "the destruction of ourselves".
Standing next to lines of white narble crosses, the pope silently walked alone across the cemetery, sometimes laying white roses at graves, and paid tribute at the tomb of an unknown soldier, an Italian-American soldier, and also to a Jewish fighter.
"How many times in history men have thought of making war by being convinced of bringing a new world, a 'spring', and that ends with a bad, cruel winter, where terror and death reign," said the pope.
The region saw fierce fighting at the end of the war between the Allied troops and the German occupying army, supported by Italian fascist troops.
Before returning to the Vatican, the pope stopped in the south of Rome at the Fosse Ardeatines, where 335 civilians, including 75 Jews, were executed by the Nazis in 1944 in retaliation for an attack during which 33 German soldiers were killed.