The tragedy of World War I and learning from past mistakes

By Henry Daggett

VATICAN CITY — Calling July 28 a day of mourning over the “tragic” outbreak of World War I 100 years ago, Pope Francis said he hoped the mistakes of the past would not be repeated.

“In particular, today, my thoughts go to three critical areas: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine,” the pope said. Referring to the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, the persecution of Christians and Muslims alike by radical Islamist movements in Northern Iraq and the political upheavals and violence in eastern Ukraine, the pope asked people to join him “in prayer that the Lord may grant to the people and authorities of those areas the wisdom and strength needed to push ahead on the path of peace by addressing each dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation with the power of reconciliation.”

Christopher Clark, a professor of modern history at the University of Cambridge, stated last week in the short Catholic News Service documentary, “1914-2014: Echoes of the Great War” that we, “should be anything other than complacent” as “this is not a safe world,” alluding to the growing problems of competing nationalisms in Ukraine, and the ever present religious issues in the Middle-East.

Cambridge University Professor John Pollard goes further to mention the “potentially very dangerous situation” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the “Croats are still very suspicious of the Serbs.” He concludes that, “we haven’t got very far since 1914.”

You can watch the CNS documentary below, as well as a video of the pope’s Angelus address.

Henry Daggett is a summer intern in the Catholic News Service Rome Bureau.



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1 Response to The tragedy of World War I and learning from past mistakes

  1. Jim says:

    It is hard to comment on this. WW I is used as a reference but we also have 0therpoints of reference including WW II in which appeasement gave encouragement the NAZI regime. Who today thinks we can negotiate with ISIS when the demands and goals are the imposition of a caliphate across much of the world and the elimination of Christians from all lands under the caliphate? What do we have to give them? And in exchange for what? In 1999 hundreds of thousands fled Kosovo reporting ethnic cleansing, massacres and forced expulsions. At that time NATO intervened militarily in an effort to stop what some called a genocide within the country. Ruanda resulted in vows, “Never again” What is it going to take in terms of lives of the innocent for the civilized world to say, “Enough is enough”. What will it take? The capture of Bagdad? The capture of Ammon Jordan?

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