Calls Massacre of 335 Citizens an "Offense Against God"

"What happened here on March 24, 1944, is a deeply grave offense to God because it is deliberate violence of man against man," the Pontiff stated. "It is the most execrable effect of war, of every war, while God is life, peace, communion."

Benedict XVI said he came to monument to "to pray and to renew the memory. I have come to invoke divine mercy, which alone can fill the voids, the chasms opened by men when, driven by blind violence, they renounce their dignity as sons of God and brothers."

He said that he came as the Bishop of Rome to "pay homage to these brothers, murdered a short distance from the ancient catacombs."

Benedict XVI read a short note that was found in the Fosse Ardeatine, written by one who had been murdered there: "God my great Father, we pray to you that you might protect the Jews from the barbaric persecutions. 1 Pater noster, 10 Ave Maria, 1 Gloria Patri."

The Holy Father reflected: "In that moment so tragic, so inhuman, in the heart of that person there was the greatest prayer: 'God my Father,' Father of all!"

"In that name, 'Father,' there is the sure guarantee of hope," the Pope said, "the possibility of a different future, free from hatred and revenge, a future of freedom and fraternity, for Rome, Italy, Europe, the world."

The Pontiff added: "In this place, a sorrowful memorial of the most horrendous evil, the truest response is to take each other’s hands, as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in you, and with the power of your love we want to walk together, in peace, in Rome, In Italy, in Europe, in the whole world. Amen."

Benedict XVI is the third Pope to visit the Fosse Ardeatine. Pope Paul VI went on Sept. 12, 1965, and Pope John Paul II on March 21, 1982.

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