Pope on WW2 anniversary demands war end

'Halt arms trafficking, persecution of Christians'

(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 2 - Pope Francis, noting the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory over Japan Wednesday, made a powerful appeal for an end to all war and a halt to the persecution of Christians and of minorities. Speaking to a crowd of 15,000 excited pilgrims, tourists and the faithful at his weekly audience after entering St Peter's Square in his open top "popemobile" jeep, the pontiff also urged an end to the trafficking of weapons which he said are "bathed in the blood of so many innocent people".
    "No more war, ever!" said Francis, expressing in a strong voice the wish that "the world won't have to undergo the horrors and frightful suffering of similar tragedies".
    Straying from his prepared remarks for the audience, the 101st of his pontificate, the Argentine pope also recalled "the persecuted minorities, the persecuted Christians, the madness of destruction," and lashed out at "those who produce, who traffic weapons -- bloodied weapons, arms covered in blood, arms covered in the blood of innocent people".
    Francis paid tribute to the "yearning" of the "victims of the various bloody conflicts under way".
    The Jesuit pontiff, who later this month will travel to the American cities of Philadelphia, New York and Washington, also spoke out against what he called the "desertification" of the modern city, saying the relationship between the family and God is the antidote.
    "The alliance of the family with God is called today to combat the community desertification of the modern city," he said.
    "Our cities have become deserts for lack of love, lack of smiles -- so much fun, so many, many things to lose time and make people laugh. But love is missing".
    "It's exactly the family, that dad, that mum who works, with the children, the smile that a family is capable of, that can beat this desertification of our cities," the pope said. "And this is the victory of family love".
    The throng gave the Roman Catholic leader a tumultuous welcome as he circled the vast square in front of St Peter's Basilica under partly cloudy skies, imparting blessings and kissing babies held out to him as he beamed broadly from the popemobile under tight security.