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Primo Mazzolari: Card. Parolin to UNESCO, “he understood there is an abysmal distance between the Gospel and violence”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“To reflect on how the thought and action of this priest”, Fr. Primo Mazzolari, “can help us all to live our time with courage and to build what Pope Francis calls the civilization of love” – this is, in the words of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the goal of the international congress on “The message and action of peace of Fr. Primo Mazzolari” that is being held at UNESCO in Paris. As he opened the session, the cardinal retraced the life of this priest who, having “experienced the tragedy of war” first as a soldier and then as a military chaplain, went on to develop the “convictions that would make him a peacemaker in the 20th century”. Indeed, the “harsh reality of war” helped “him to understand that there is an abysmal distance between the Gospel and violence”. Speaking about the significance of his life, the Vatican Secretary of State recalled the years of totalitarian regimes in which Mazzolari “had the courage to firmly oppose all forms of injustice and racism”; his support for the Resistance “as an exercise of awareness intended to preserve humanity from the nightmare of violence”; his efforts during World War II to remind people of the importance of discerning what is “true and good” in a “reality that is never crystal-clear”; his commitment to the education of conscience (“the myth of duty as opposed to the primacy of moral conscience”); and the conviction that a supranational institution is needed to guarantee peace.

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