The Pity of War

David Cooper was a chaplain to one of the toughest units in the British army during the Falklands War. 35 years on, he tries to explain the love of God amid the suffering each side inflicted on the other. But Cooper is about to encounter his greatest challenge in an Argentine soldier, Horacio Benitez.

Benitez was a young conscript during the war over those remote islands in the South Atlantic. He remembers with horror how he machine-gunned advancing British soldiers. “You ask yourself how many fathers you have killed. And you ask yourself why?” That question remained with Benitez, originally a man of profound Catholic faith, for the rest of his life. He has now made it his mission to visit Britain to seek reconciliation. As he visits one of the Falklands war memorials in the UK, he reads the names of the British dead and recalls his own pain at losing comrades. But his biggest struggle is with his conscience: “I tried to find justification for what I did, that I did it for my country. But deep inside I knew it was evil.”

Meeting for the first time in this edition of Heart and Soul, these former enemies, Cooper and Benitez, try to make sense of their war experience and the questions it poses for each man’s faith. Can there ever be a higher purpose to war – and what is needed now for peace?