On the occasion of the centenary of the end of World War I, COMECE bishops urged all persons of good will to work together in the promotion of dialogue – a key element for the European Union as a project of peace – by preserving the diversity of historical memories in Europe. Their call comes from the symbolic setting of Ypres, theatre of some of the darkest and most cruel pages of the conflict.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson said:
“I feel deeply moved to be with you in Tyne Cot because my grandfather, Eric Hudson, fought here in the Battle of Paschendale and survived. We gather here in a spirit of what the ancient Romans called ‘pietas’. ‘Pietas’, for the Romans, meant gratitude, loyalty, respect. We gather indeed in gratitude, loyalty and respect for all those here who laid down their lives in order that we might be free. We pray that they may now rest in peace; we pray for peace across the whole Continent of Europe. When we gathered, many of us, for the ‘ Re-thinking Europe’ conference in the Vatican, the Holy Father urged all of us to ‘keep the human’ at the centre, at the heart of the European project. Tyne Cot is a place where we cannot but think of the human. For around us lie the remains of 12,000 men.
The inscriptions chosen by their families to adorn the headstones are deeply poignant. ‘Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends’; ‘Well done, dear husband and father, your noble duty done’. This is a place where we remember the cost of war for both family and soldier alike. We remember what it is to be human; remember the sacrifice made by these men for their fellow human beings. It is a place we should resolve never to forget; from the rising of the sun to its setting, always to remember them.”