Pope to 'Carabinieri:' Be inspired by Servant of God, Officer Salvo D'Acquisto
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
The self sacrifice of Carabinieri Deputy Brigadier, Servant of God, Salvo D'Acquisto, offers a powerful witness of love, which can inspire Carabinieri today in their service of the good, truth and society.
Pope Francis made this observation on Saturday morning in St. Peter's Square as he expressed his gratitude to the Carabinieri, who constitute one of Italy's primary law enforcement agencies as the nation's national gendarmerie, carrying out domestic and foreign policing duties.
The Holy Father thanked them for their service around the Vatican as they collaborate with other Italian and Vatican security forces to ensure public order.
"I welcome you with joy and thank you for coming," the Pope said, recalling the occasion for the great gathering.
"Today," he noted, "we are here in memory of Deputy Brigadier Salvo D'Acquisto, Servant of God and Hero of the Homeland, who sacrificed his life for his commitment to the Carabinieri Force," adding, "eighty years ago, on 23 September 1943, he gave his life to save innocent hostages captured by Nazi troops."
In 1983, St. Pope John Paul II bestowed on D'Acquisto the title "Servant of God". Posthumously, D'Acquisto was awarded Italy's Gold Medal of Military Valor.
Extraordinary witness of Servant of God, Salvo D'Acquisto
"It does us good," the Pope said, "to look at this colleague of yours, at the mission he carried out with a spirit of self-sacrifice, at the extreme witness he left us."
The Holy Father invited the Carabinieri to keep his memory alive in the present by seeking "solid motivations on which to build the future."
Recalling this colleague, the Pope said, should inspire learning from his sacrifice and generosity, and renew the Carabinieri's "commitment to the Force today, in the service of good and truth, in the service of society."
The Holy Father recalled that D'Aquisto lived in "terrible years," when "the world was at war" and "racial persecution raged in Europe and the logic of hatred seemed to prevail."
He lamented that in our own day the story and the sacrifice of Deputy Brigadier remains relevant.
As we live "in a time polluted by individualism and intolerance towards others, as well as by the exacerbation of so many forms of violence and hatred that we see in our cities, his testimony," Pope Francis recalled, "delivers a message charged with the power of love."
Commitment to justice and legality
The Pope reflected on the immense and self-sacrificing work of the Carabinieri. "To you, who are daily committed to the service of justice and legality - and how much need there is for legality today! - I would like to say that all this finds its reason and its ultimate end in love."
"Justice, in fact," he continued, "does not tend simply to impose punishments on those who have done wrong, but to restore people in the name of respect and the common good." In this way, the Pope underscored, Carabinieri have a great mission.
Carabinieri, the Pope said, are called upon not only to 'do your duty', applying regulations and procedures, "but to make society more just and human."
It is therefore great, the Pope continued, "that you are passionate people, passionate like Salvo D'Acquisto; servants of the State and of the common good, who fight injustice, defend the weakest, offer a sense of protection to our cities."
Continued closeness to Italian people
The Pope noted the affection of the Italians for the Carabinieri, suggesting this stems from their sacrifice and dedication.
"Never be discouraged, never give in to the temptation to think that evil is stronger, that there is never an end to the worst and that your commitment is useless. Looking at Salvo d'Acquisto, let yourselves be animated by the passion for good," he said.
Pope Francis concluded by urging them to always stay close to the people, and by imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon them, their family members and loved ones, noting "they too, participate in your mission!"