Marco Pannella
Il Messaggero

ABSTRACT: Not even the Pope speaks of famine anymore: he solemnly evokes the "extermination", he
has pleaded with the powerful of the earth to put an end to it. This time it is the world of the
Communists, Socialists, Liberals and "democrats" who are silent, and whose silence is a cause of
extermination. In the coming days they will once again vote on a war budget and not on one of peace.
Even the Pope at this point can do nothing but keep silent. At this point it would be enough for a single
country to begin giving its due to start off a new political will. For this it would be worthwhile to risk
one's life with the most totally non-violent action against those who seek certain war and death.
(IL MESSAGGERO, (1) April 9. 1980)

(Marco Pannella, with a letter to the "Messaggero", started off the march against death from hunger
in the world, which was held at Easter with the participation of thousands of citizens. Now, with this
article, he sums up the results and comments on the silence of the Pope and the "Palazzo". (2)

* * *

John Paul... Did John Paul really keep silent? His silence pursues us. Is he not really speaking to us
through it? Did we not perhaps ourselves denounced the lamenters, the men whose word does not
become truth and life, but almost rather pushes us towards death and despair?
A word which does not save, which does not proclaim salvation and resurrection - can it be
repeated, should it be pronounced, or should it not rather be kept back? To pronounce it - would that
not be a lie, almost blasphemy?
Of today's Buchenwald, of the tremendous annihilation... this time the Popes have spoken.
Incessantly, for twenty years. "Populorum progressio" dates back to '76. Last year at Easter and
until a few weeks ago John Paul II did not omit forceful denunciations. In December, he too, as we
were doing at the time, did not limit himself to the word "hunger", but evoked in solemn words the
"annihilation", and pleaded with the powerful of the earth to end it. This time, this time it is the
Communist world, the Socialist world, the "free" and democratic world which is silent or is lying.
Which is doing the annihilating.
Otherwise why precisely at Easter should John Paul have kept silent, for the first time in years, while
the extermination is widening, growing, horribly and unimaginably only yesterday? Just when a sea of
people, celebrating, confident believers arrived there not to exhort him to speak, but to applaud the
word which was expected? Expected, or perhaps taken for granted? The word - can it be taken for
No. John Paul II this Easter only announced the resurrection of the dead. He was a man, a witness to
truth. This time he could do no more. For the rest, for the starving, for the thirsting, for the dying, for
God's humble, oppressed, exploited people, for tens upon tens of millions of the condemned he
showed himself to be helpless like them. He showed us his hands: poor and empty they too.
And, I think, that others spoke for him too, "Vox populi, vox dei". And the sea of people, of believers
and non-believers (or believers in other religions) that came celebrating at Easter, in the name of life,
of peace and disarmament, against annihilation from hunger and preparations for war, in St. Peter's
Square from Porta Pia, bearing the standards of Milan and Pavia with the Radicals, with Petroselli,
Veltri, Susanna Agnelli, with hundreds of hunger strikers of the Satyagraha 1980, with the meek and
emblematic Hare-Krishna, with the infirm, the old and the children, with posters and banners, with
differing life histories and roads, sometimes opposite ones, with their flowers - this sea was truly a
people. A people strong and mild, unarmed and non-violent, but not inert or resigned or irresponsible,
since this year the gates of the Palazzo, all of them, were wide open to them: or open as if to better
emphasise the desert within them. The inhabitants of the Palazzo are now keeping silent for reasons
opposite to those of the Pope. Within the next few days they will, each one in his place and his
functions, decree more annihilation and less peace. This is what (their) policy demands.
Thus the granaries are always more empty, the arsenals always more full. That is how they think.
That is what we do not agree with as people, as citizens, as deputies not of a party but of the nation,
of the people. Thus we will not keep silent, not even in the Palazzo. Thus before voting on the
government and the financial laws of the state, we will do all in our power to guarantee that the
money of Italian citizens is not spent for demagogic and pretended "necessities" for assassinations
and preparations for war rather than peace.
Gino Pampaloni - and along with him, many other of the best people - are mistaken. One must have
studied - and one must still study - the problem of hunger in the world before declaring it to be
insoluble, at least in the present. It is not due to inner imprudence or to recklessness or for
maximalism that we say the extermination must end, must begin to end, immediately, or we will
soon all be exterminated, including us, the exterminators. It is not humanly impossible to avoid it. It
is humanly impossible to do it, to let it happen.
If the U.N. Security Council is induced to take the decisions within their competence, if only a single
state began (but at once!) to do its duty, if the political will is acquired, in a few weeks and months it
would be possible, it would be perfectly imaginable and feasible to save millions and tens of millions of
people from hunger and death.
In all conscience this is what I believe. I cannot take up a machine gun or a pistol, I cannot even
threaten to force the supreme law of life - the law denied - be respected by the very people who
impose it, and impose it on all of us. Those who command us, the powerful of the earth, the lords of
war, have again gone mad. And the wisest and most honest in our eyes become the most
In this situation the only thing left to us for affirming hope and peace is the most absolute of
non-violent actions: risk our lives against those who, instead, continue madly to choose the certainty
of war and of death.

1) A popular Rome daily.
2) Palazzo - In Italian journalistic parlance, roughly equivalent to the expression "the halls of power",
political power, in a negative sense of arrogant insensitivity to the needs and demands of the people