The task of the Christian Press
The Press must be undeviatingly loyal to the truth, lest its tremendous influence be exercised amiss. The truth of which .We speak is the truth in vision, whereby you see events really as they happen, and the truth in presentation, whereby you report faithfully events as you have seen them, and interpret them by no other standards than those of justice and of charity.
Now truth is dispassionate, not partisan; factual, not fanciful. Truth is not venal; it does not fear to be known, but it asks only to be presented in the clear, white light of objectivity, not in any spectral tint of prejudice or conjecture. Truth, too, is discreet and knows that reality must at times be circumscribed by reserve, that evil is not to be garnished while the good is slurred over. Truth is modest and aware that death may enter the soul through the windows of the eyes. Alas, does not experience teach that incalculable harm may come to domestic and civil society through an unethical press that would lose sight of the demands of truth?
Source: “Address to USA Press Reprsentatives, April 27, 1946”, in: The Teachings of Pope Pius XII. Compiled and edited with the assistance of the Vatican Archives by Michael Chinigo (London: Methuen & Co., 1958), p. 387.
The Mission of the Church
The origins of Christianity and of the Catholic Church are historical facts, proved and determined in time and place. Of that the Church is quite conscious. She knows, too, that her mission, although belonging by its nature and aims to the religious and moral domain, situated in the beyond and in eternity, nevertheless penetrates right into the heart of human history. Always and everywhere, constantly adapting herself to the circumstances of time and place, she tries to form, according to Christ’s law, persons, the single individual and, as far as possible, all individuals, thus reaching, also, the moral foundations of life in society. The aim of the Church is the naturally good man, penetrated, ennobled, and strengthened by truth and Christ’s grace.
The Church wants to make men ‘firm in their inviolate integrity as images of God; men proud of their personal dignity and wholesome liberty; men rightly jealous of equality with their fellow men in all that concerns the very heart of human dignity; men solidly attached to their country and their traditions’. That is the intention of the Church as We formulated it in Our address of February 20, 1946, on the occasion of the investment of the new Cardinals. We add: in the present century as in that which has passed, in which the problems of the family, society, the State, and the social order have acquired an ever-increasing and even capital importance, the Church has done everything possible to contribute to the solution of these questions and, let Us hope, with some success. The Church is convinced, however, that she cannot work more efficaciously than by continuing to form men in the way We have described.
To attain these aims, the Church does not act only as an ideological system. No doubt she is also defined as such, when the expression ‘Catholicism’ is used, which is a term not fully adequate. She is much more than a mere ideological system; she is a reality, like visible nature, like the people, or the State. She is a living organism with her own finality and vital principle. Unchangeable in the constitution and structure which the divine Founder Himself gave to her, she has accepted and accepts the elements which she needs or considers useful for her development and her action: men and human institutions, philosophical and cultural inspirations, political forces and social ideas or institutions, principles and activities. Therefore, the Church, spreading throughout the whole world, underwent various changes in the course of the centuries; in her essence, however, she always remained identical, because the multitude of elements she received from the beginning were subjected to the same basic faith.
The Church could be astoundingly broad and at the same time inflexibly severe. If we consider the whole of her history, we see that she was both, with an unfailing instinct as to what suited different peoples and the whole of humanity. Hence she has rejected all movements which are too naturalistic, contaminated to some extent by the spirit of moral licence, but also Gnostic tendencies, falsely spiritualistic and puritan. The history of canon law, up to the code which is now in force, gives a large number of significant proofs. Take, for example, the ecclesiastical legislation on marriage arid the recent pontifical declarations about questions of conjugal partnership and the family in all their aspects: you will find there an example, among many others, of the way in which the Church thinks and works.
Source: “Address to the International Congress of Historical Sciences, September 7, 1955”, in: The Teachings of Pope Pius XII. Compiled and edited with the assistance of the Vatican Archives by Michael Chinigo (London: Methuen & Co., 1958), pp. 396-397
Slander and persecution
The news which comes to Us, is such as to deepen the bitterness of Our grief. Day and night, with paternal solicitude, We turn Our mind and heart to those who had been entrusted to Us by divine mandate and whom We know to be treated, in some places, in such an unseemly manner as to be made the objects of slander because of their firm attachment to the Catholic faith, and to be deprived of their legitimate rights, sometimes not excluding even those so innate in human nature that, if they are violated by force, fear, or any other means, the very dignity of man is degraded.
All this is such a bitter cause of grief to Us that We cannot withhold Our tears when We pray to the most merciful God and Father of compassion that He may benevolently enlighten those responsible for so sad a situation and put an end to these many evils.
But, in the midst of so many and such great calamities which sadden Our soul and yours, We can find some reason for comfort in the news which has come to Us. In fact, it is known to Us that those who are in such deplorable and desperate circumstances remain firm in their faith with such intrepid constancy as to awaken Our admiration and that of all decent people. To all of them, therefore, goes Our paternal praise; may their strength increase, may they be firmly convinced that We, as a common Father whom the care for all the Churches moves and ‘the charity of Christ presses,’ raise fervent prayers every day that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, herald of peace for individual souls, peoples, and nations, may triumph everywhere.
Before the unhappy spectacle of such evils, which have struck not only Our sons among the laity but above all those invested with sacerdotal dignity, precisely so that what is written in the Sacred Scripture: ‘They will smite the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered,’ may come to pass, We cannot fail to call the attention of all to the fact that, in the course of centuries, not only among civilized peoples but also among barbarians, priests, as intermediaries between God and man, have always been regarded with proper veneration. And when the divine Redeemer, having dispelled the darkness of error, taught us the heavenly truths, and out of His great benevolence wished to make us sharers in His eternal priesthood, this veneration increased even more so that Bishops and priests were considered as most loving fathers, desirous of nothing else but the common welfare of the flock entrusted to their care.
Nevertheless the divine Redeemer Himself had said: ‘No disciple is above his teacher’; ‘If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you also’; ‘Blessed are you when men reproach you and persecute you and, speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you for My sake, Rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in Heaven.’
There is, therefore, no reason to wonder if in our day, and perhaps more than in past centuries, the Church of Jesus Christ and especially His ministers are stricken with persecutions, falsehoods, calumnies, and all sorts of affliction; but rather let us place our trust in Him Who, if He predicted future calamities, also admonished us with these words: ‘In the world you will have affliction. But take courage, for I have overcome the world.’
If, for those innumerable legions of people who, in those regions, suffer infirmities, grief, and anguish, or are in prison, We cannot put into practice the words of Jesus: ‘[I was] sick, and you visited Me, I was in prison, and you came to Me,’ we can at least do something for them; with our prayers and works of penance we can implore our most merciful Lord to send His consoling angels to these our suffering brothers and sons, and shower upon them ample heavenly gifts which will console and strengthen their spirits, and lift them up to heavenly things.
And We wish especially that all priests, who can offer up the Holy Eucharist every day, shall remember those Bishops and priests who, far from their churches and their faithful, do not have the opportunity of approaching the altar to celebrate the divine Sacrifice and nourish themselves and their faithful with that divine Food from which our souls draw a sweetness which surpasses all desire and receive that strength which leads to victory. Drawn together in close brotherly union, let the faithful also do this, as they participate in the same offering and in the same sacrifice: to the end that in every part of the earth and in all rites which constitute the ornament of the church, there will go up to God and to His heavenly Mother the unanimous voices, of those who pray to obtain divine mercy on behalf of these afflicted communities of Christians.
Source: “Encyclical Orientales Ecclesias“, December 15, 1952, in: The Teachings of Pope Pius XII. Compiled and edited with the assistance of the Vatican Archives by Michael Chinigo (London: Methuen & Co., 1958), pp. 384-386.
The Virgin invites us to the blessed grotto. Will we heed her?
From Le Pèlerinage de Lourdes, encyclical of Pope Pius XII warning against materialism, on the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes (July 2, 1957).
The Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother’s compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son’s blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: “Penance, penance, penance!” She even appeals for outward expressions: “Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners.” And to this gesture must be added a prayer: “Pray to God for sinners”- As in the days of John the Baptist, as at the start of Jesus’ ministry, this command, strong and rigorous, shows men the way which leads back to God: “Repent!”. Who would dare to say that this appeal for the conversion of hearts is untimely today?
But the Mother of God could come to her children only as a messenger of forgiveness and hope. Already the water flows at her feet: “Omnes sitientes, venite ad aquas, et haurietis salutem a Domino“. At this spring where gentle Bernadette was the first to go to drink and wash, all miseries of soul and body will flow away. “And I went and washed and I see”, the grateful pilgrim will be able to reply, in the words of the blind man of the Gospel. But as was true for the crowds which pressed around Jesus, the healing of bodily ills is still a gesture of mercy and a sign of that power which the Son of Man has to forgive sins. The Virgin invites us to the blessed grotto in her Divine Son’s name for the conversion of our hearts and in the hope of forgiveness. Will we heed her?
If in her solicitude Mary looks upon some of her children with a special predilection, is it not, Beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, upon the lowly, the poor, and the afflicted whom Jesus loved so much? “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”, she seems to say along with her divine Son.
Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honored at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer.
The Immaculate Virgin, who knows the secret ways by which grace operates in souls and the silent work of this supernatural leaven in this world, knows also the great price which God attaches to your sufferings united to those of the Savior. They can greatly contribute, We have no doubt, to this Christian renewal of society which We implore of God through the powerful intercession of His Mother.
In response to the prayers of the sick, of the humble, of all the pilgrims to Lourdes, may Mary turn her maternal gaze upon those still outside the limits of the only fold, the Church, that they may come together in unity. May she look upon those who are in search, who are thirsty for truth, and lead them to the source of living waters.
May she cast her glance upon the vast continents and their limitless human areas where Christ is unfortunately so little known, so little loved; and may she obtain for the Church freedom and the joy of being able to respond everywhere, always youthful, holy, and apostolic, to the longing of men.
“Kindly come… ,” said the Virgin to Bernadette. This discreet invitation, which does not compel but is addressed to the heart and requests with delicacy a free and generous response, the Mother of God addresses again to her children in France and the whole world. Christians will not remain deaf to this appeal; they will go to Mary.
The message from the Crib of Bethlehem
Here is the Broadcast of Pope Pius XII for Christmas 1942, about the rights of Man, the feast of Christmas, and suffering humanity.
As the Holy Christmas Season comes round each year, the message of Jesus, Who is light in the midst of darkness, echoes once more from the Crib of Bethlehem in the ears of Christians and re-echoes in their hearts with an ever new freshness of joy and piety. It is a message which lights up with heavenly truth a world that is plunged in darkness by fatal errors. It infuses exuberant and trustful joy into mankind, torn by the anxiety of deep, bitter sorrow. It proclaims liberty to the sons of Adam, shackled with the chains of sin and guilt. It promises mercy, love, peace to the countless hosts of those in suffering and tribulation who see their happiness Shattered and their efforts broken in the tempestuous strife and hate of our stormy days.
The church bells, which announce this message in every continent, not only recall the gift which God made to mankind at the dawn of the Christian Era; they also announce and proclaim a consoling reality of the present, a reality which is eternally young, living and life-giving; it is the reality of the “True Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this World,” and which knows no setting. The Eternal Word, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, began His mission of saving and redeeming the human race by being born in the squalor of a stable and by thus ennobling and hallowing poverty.
He thus proclaimed and consecrated a message which is still, today, the Word of Eternal Life. That message can solve the most tortuous questions, unsolved and insoluble for those who bring to their investigations a mentality and an apparatus which are ephemeral and merely human; and those questions stand up, bleeding, imperiously demanding an answer, before the thought and the feeling of embittered and exasperated mankind.
The watchword “I have compassion on the multitude” is for Us a sacred trust which may not be abused; it remains strong, and impelling in all times and in all human situations, as it was the distinguishing mark of Jesus.
The Church would be untrue to herself, ceasing to be a mother, if she turned a deaf ear to her children’s anguished cries, which reach her from every class of the human family. She does not intend to take sides for any of the particular forms in which the several peoples and States strive to solve the gigantic problems of domestic order or international collaboration, as long as these forms conform to the law of God. But on the other hand, as the “Pillar and Ground of Truth” and guardian, by the will of God and the mandate of Christ, of the natural and supernatural order, the Church cannot renounce her right to proclaim to her sons and to the whole world the unchanging basic laws, saving them from every perversion, frustration, corruption, false interpretation and error.
This is all the more necessary for the fact that from the exact maintenance of these laws, and not merely by the effort of noble and courageous wills, depends in the last analysis the solidity of any national and international order, so fervently desired by all peoples. We know the qualities of courage and sacrifice of those peoples, and We also know their straitened conditions and their sorrow; and in this hour of unspeakable trial and strife We feel Ourselves bound to each and every one of them without exception, by a deep, all-embracing, unmovable affection, and by an immense desire to bring them every solace and help which is in any way at Our command.
Primary Elements of Social Life
In our last Christmas Message, We expounded the principles- which Christian thought suggests, for the establishment of an international order of friendly relations and collaboration such as to conform to the demands of God’s Law. Today We shall, with the consent, We feel, and the interested attention of all upright men, pause to consider very carefully and with equal impartiality, the fundamental laws of the internal order of the States and peoples.
International relations and internal order are intimately related. International equilibrium and harmony depend on the internal equilibrium and development of the individual States in the material, social and intellectual spheres. A firm steady peace policy towards other nations is, in fact, impossible without a spirit of peace within the nation which inspires trust. It is only, then, by striving for an integral peace, a peace in both fields, that people will be freed from the cruel nightmare of war, and the material and psychological causes of further discord and disorder will be diminished in a desire for peace, and hence aims at attaining peace, that “tranquil living together in order” in which St. Thomas finds the essence of peace. Two primary elements, then, regulate social life, a living together in order, and a living together in tranquillity.
Order, which is fundamental in an association of men (of beings, that is, who strive to attain an end appropriate to their nature) is not merely external linking up of parts which are numerically distinct. It is rather, and must be, a tendency and an ever more perfect approach to an internal union; and this does not exclude differences founded in fact and sanctioned by the will of God or by supernatural standard.
A clear understanding of the genuine fundamentals of all social life has a capital importance today as never before, when mankind, impregnated by the poison of error and social aberrations, tormented by the fever of discordant desires, doctrines, and aims, is excitedly tossing about in the disorder which it has itself created, and is experiencing the destructive force of false ideas that disregard the Law of God or are opposed to it. And since disorder can only be overcome by an order which is not merely superimposed and fictitious (just as darkness with its fearful and depressing effects can only be driven away by light and not by will o’ the wisps); so security, reorganizations, progressive improvement cannot be expected and cannot be brought about unless by a return of large and influential sections to correct notions about security.
It is a return which calls for the Grace of God in large measure, and for a resolute will, ready and prepared for sacrifice on the part of good farseeing men. From these influential circles who are more capable of penetrating and appreciating the beauty of just social norms, there will pass on and infiltrate into the masses the clear knowledge of the true, divine, spiritual origin of social life. Thus the way will be cleared for the reawakening, the growth and fixing of those moral principles without which even the proudest achievements create but a Babel in which the citizens, though they live inside the same walls, speak different and incoherent languages.
From individual and social life we should rise to God, the First Cause and Ultimate Foundation, as He is the Creator of the first conjugal society, from which we have the society which is the family, and the society of peoples and of nations. As an image, albeit imperfect, of its Exemplar, the One and Triune God, Who through the Mystery of the Incarnation, redeemed and raised human nature, life in society, in its ideals and in its end, possesses by the light of reason and of revelation a moral authority and an absoluteness which transcend every temporal change. It has a power of attraction that, far from being weakened or lessened by delusions, errors, failures, draws irresistibly the noblest and most faithful souls to the Lord, to take up with renewed energy, with added knowledge, with new studies, methods and means, the enterprises which in other times and circumstances were tried in vain.
The origin and the primary scope of social life is the conservation, development and perfection of the human person, helping him to realize accurately the demands and values of religion and culture set by the Creator for every man and for all mankind, both as a whole and in its natural ramifications.
A social teaching or a social reconstruction program which denies or prescinds from this internal essential relation to God of everything that regards men, is on a false course; and while it builds up with one hand, it prepares with the other the materials which sooner or later will undermine and destroy the whole fabric. And when it disregards the respect due to the human person and to the life which is proper to that person, and gives no thought to it in its organization, in legislative and executive activity, then instead of serving society, it harms it; instead of encouraging and stimulating social thought, instead of realizing its hopes and expectations, it strips it of all real value and reduces it to a utilitarian formula which is openly rejected by constantly increasing groups.
If social life implies intrinsic unity, it does not, at the same time, exclude differences which are founded in fact and nature. When we hold fast to God, the Supreme Controller of all that relates to man, then the similarities no less than the differences of men find their allotted place in the fixed order of being, of values, and hence also of morality. When, however, this foundation is removed, there is a dangerous lack of cohesion in the various spheres of culture; the frontier of true value becomes uncertain and shifting, even to the point where mere external factors, and often blind instincts, come to determine, according to the prevalent fashion of the day, who is to have control of this or that direction.
After the fateful economy of the past decades, during which the lives of all citizens were subordinated to the stimulus of gain, there now succeeds another and no less fateful policy which, while it considers everybody with reference to the State, excludes all thought of ethics or religion. This is a fatal travesty, a fatal error. It is calculated to bring about far-reaching consequences for social life, which is never nearer to losing its noblest prerogatives than when it thinks it can deny or forget with impunity the external source of its own dignity: God.
Reason, enlightened by faith, assigns to individuals and to particular societies in the social organization a definite and exalted place. It knows, to mention only the most important, that the whole political and economic activity of the State is directed to the permanent realization of the common good.
In a conception of society which is pervaded and sanctioned by religious thought, the influence of economics and of every other sphere of cultural activity represents a universal and most exalted center of activity, very rich in its variety and coherent in its harmony, in which men’s intellectual equality and diversity of occupation come into their own and secure adequate expression. When this is not so, work is depreciated and the worker is belittled.
That social life, such as God willed it, may attain its scope, it needs a juridical order to support it from without, to defend and protect it. The function of this juridical order is not to dominate but to serve, to help the development and increase of society’s vitality in the rich multiplicity of its ends, leading all the individual energies to their perfection in peaceful completion, and defending them with appropriate and honest means against all that may militate against those who only by this means can be held within the noble discipline of social life. But in the just fulfillment of this right, an authority which is truly worthy of the name will always be painfully conscious of its responsibility in the sight of the Eternal Judge, before Whose Tribunal every wrong judgment, and especially every revolt against the order established by God, will receive without fail its sanction and its condemnation.
The precise, bedrock, basic rules that govern society cannot be prejudiced by the intervention of human agency. They can be denied, overlooked, despised, transgressed, but they can never be overthrown with legal validity. It is true indeed that, as time goes on, conditions of life change. But there is never a complete break or a complete discontinuity between the law of yesterday and that of today, between the disappearance of old powers and constitutions and the appearance of a new order. In any case, whatever be the change or transformation, the scope of every social life remains identical, sacred, obligatory; it is the development of the personal values of man as the image of God; and the obligation remains with every member of the human family to realize his unchangeable destiny, whosoever be the legislator and the authority whom he obeys.
In consequence, there always remains, too, his inalienable right, which no opposition can nullify—a right which must be respected by friend and foe—to a legal order and practice which appreciate and understand that it is their essential duty to serve the common good.
The juridical order has, besides, the high and difficult scope of insuring harmonious relations both between individuals and between societies, and within these. This scope will be reached if legislators will abstain from following those perilous theories and practices, so harmful to communities to their spirit of union, which derive their origin and promulgation from false postulates. Among such postulates We must count the juridical positivism which attributes a deceptive majesty to the setting up of purely human laws, and which leaves the way open for a fatal divorce of law from morality.
There is, besides, the conception which claims for particular nations, or classes, the juridical instinct as the final imperative and the norm from which there is no appeal; finally, there are those various theories which, differing among themselves, and deriving from opposite ideologies, agree in considering the State, or a group which represents it, as an absolute and supreme entity, exempt from control and from criticism even when its theoretical and practical postulates result in and offend by, their open denial of essential tenets of the human Christian conscience.
Anyone who considers with an open and penetrating mind the vital connection between social order and a genuine juridical order, and who is conscious of the fact that internal order in all its complexity depends on the predominance of spiritual forces, on the respect of human dignity in oneself and in others, on the love of society and of its God-given ends, cannot wonder at the sad effects of juridical conceptions which, far from the royal road of truth, proceed on the insecure ground of materialistic postulates. But he will realize at once the urgent need of a return to a conception of law which is spiritual and ethical, serious and profound, vivified by the warmth of true humanity and illumined by the splendor of the Christian Faith, which bids us seek in the juridical order an outward refraction of the social order willed by God, a luminous product of the spirit of man which is in turn the image of the Spirit of God.
On this organic conception which alone is living, in which the noblest humanity and the most genuine Christian spirit flourish in harmony, there is marked the Scripture thought, expounded by the great Aquinas: —The work of justice shall be peace—a thought which is applicable to the internal as to the external aspect of social life. It admits of neither contrast nor alternative such as expressed in the disjunction, love or right, but of the fruitful synthesis, love and right. In the one as in the other, since both radiate from the same Spirit of God, We read the program and the seal of the human spirit; they complement one another, give each other life and support, walk hand in hand along the road of concord and pacification, while right clears the way for love and love makes right less stern, and gives it a higher meaning. Both elevate human life to that social atmosphere where, even amid the failings, the obstacles and the difficulties of this earth a fraternal community of life is made possible.
But once let the baneful spirit of materialist ideas predominate; let the urge for power and for predominance take in its rough hands the direction of affairs; you shall then find its disruptive effects appearing daily in greater measure; you shall see love and justice disappear; all this as the sad foretaste of the catastrophes that menace society when it abandons God.
The second fundamental element of peace, towards which every human society tends almost instinctively, is tranquillity.
O blessed tranquillity, thou has nothing in common with the spirit of holding fixedly and obstinately, unrelenting and with childish stubbornness, to things as they are; nor yet with the reluctance—child of cowardice and selfishness—to put one’s mind to the solution of problems and questions which the passage of time and the succession of generations, with their different needs and progress, make actual, and bring up a burning question of the day. But for a Christian who is conscious of his responsibilities even towards the least of his brethren, there is no such thing as slothful tranquillity; nor is there question of flight, but of struggle, of action against every inaction and desertion in the great spiritual combat where the stakes are the construction, nay the very soul, of the society of tomorrow.
In the mind of Aquinas, tranquillity and feverish activity are not opposed, but rather form a well-balanced pair for him who is inspired by the beauty and the urgency of the spiritual foundations of society, and of the nobility of its ideals. To you, young people, who are wont to turn your back on the past, and to rely on the future for your aspirations and your hopes, We address Ourselves with ardent love and fatherly anxiety; enthusiasm and courage do not of themselves suffice, if they be not, as they should be, placed in the service of good and of a spotless cause. It is vain to agitate, to weary yourselves, to bustle about without ever resting. You must be inspired with the conviction that you are fighting for truth, that you are sacrificing in the cause of truth your own tastes and energies wishes, and sacrifices; that you are fighting for the eternal laws of God, for the dignity of the human person, and for the attainment of its destiny.
When mature men and young men, while remaining always at anchor, in the sea of the eterna11y active tranquillity of God, coordinate their differences of temperament and activity in a genuine Christian spirit, then if the propelling element is joined to the refraining element, the natural differences between the generations will never become dangerous, and will even conduce vigorously to the enforcement of the eternal laws of God in the changing course of times and of conditions of life.
In one field of social life, where for a whole century there was agitation and bitter conflict, there is today a calm, at least on the surface. We speak of the vast and ever growing world of labor, of the immense army of workers, of breadwinners and dependents. If we consider the present with its wartime exigencies, as an admitted fact, then this calm may be called a necessary and reasonable demand; but if we look at the present situation in the light of justice, and with reference to a legitimately regulated labor movement, then the tranquillity will remain only apparent, until the scope of such a movement be attained.
Always moved by religious motives, the Church has condemned the various forms of Marxist Socialism; and she condemns them today, because it is her permanent right and duty to safeguard men from currents as thought and influences that jeopardize their external salvation. But the Church cannot ignore or overlook the fact that the worker in his efforts to better his lot, is opposed by a machinery which is not only not in accordance with nature, but is at variance with God’s plan and with the purpose He had in creating the goods of earth.
In spite of the fact that the ways they followed were and are false and to be condemned, what man, and especially what priest or Christian, could remain deaf to the cries that rise from the depths and call for justice and a spirit of brotherly collaboration in a world ruled by a just God? Such silence would be culpable and unjustifiable before God, and contrary to the inspired teaching of the Apostle, who, while he inculcates the need of resolution in the fight against error, also knows that we must be full of sympathy for those who err, and open-minded in our understanding of their aspirations, hopes and motives.
When He blessed our first parents, God said: “Increase and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” And to the first father of a family, He said later: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” The dignity of the human person, then, requires normally as a natural foundation of life the right to the use of the goods of the earth. To this right corresponds the fundamental obligation to grant private ownership of property, if possible, to all. Positive legislation regulating private ownership may change and more or less restrict its use. But if legislation is to play its part in the pacification of the community, it must prevent the worker, who is or will be a father of a family, from being condemned to an economic dependence and slavery which is irreconcilable with his rights as a person. Whether this slavery arises from the exploitation of private capital or from the power of the state, the result is the same. Indeed, under the pressure of a State which dominates all and controls the whole field of public and private life, even going into the realm of ideas and beliefs and of conscience, this lack of liberty can have the more serious consequences, as experience shows and proves.
Five Points for Ordering Society
Anyone who considers in the light of reason and of faith the foundations and the aims of social life, which we have traced in broad outline, and contemplates them in their purity and moral sublimity, and in their benefits in every sphere of life, cannot but be convinced of the powerful contribution to order and pacification which efforts directed towards great ideals and resolved to face difficulties, could present, or better, could restore to a world which is internally unhinged, when once they had thrown down the intellectual and juridical barriers, created by prejudice, errors, indifferences, and by a long tradition of secularization of thought, feeling, action which succeeded in detaching and subtracting the early city from the light and force of the City of God. Today, as never before, the hour has come for reparation, for rousing the conscience of the world from the heavy torpor into which the drugs of false ideas, widely diffused, have sunk it. This is all the more so because in this hour of material and moral disintegration the appreciation of the emptiness and inconsistency of every purely human order is beginning to disillusion even those who, in days of apparent happiness, were not conscious of the need of contact with the eternal in themselves or in society, and did not look upon its absence as an essential defect in their constitutions. What was clear to the Christian, who in his deeply founded faith was pained by the ignorance of others, is now presented to us in dazzling clearness by the din of appalling catastrophe which the present upheaval brings to man and which portrays all the terrifying lineaments of a general judgment even for the tepid, the indifferent, the frivolous. It is indeed, an old truth which comes out in ever new forms and thunders through the ages and through the nations from the mouth of the Prophet: “All that forsake thee shall be confounded; they who depart from thee, shall be written in the earth; because they have forsaken the Lord, the Vein of Living Waters.”
The call of the moment is not lamentation but action; not lamentation over what has been, but reconstruction of what is to arise and must arise for the good of society. It is for the best and most distinguished members of the Christian family, filled with the enthusiasm of Crusaders, to unite in the spirit of truth, justice and love to the call; God wills it, ready to serve, to sacrifice themselves, like the Crusaders of old.
If the issue was then the liberation of the land hallowed by the life of the Incarnate Word of God, the call today is, if We may so express Ourselves, to traverse the sea of errors of our day and to march on to free the holy land of the spirit, which is destined to sustain in its foundations the unchangeable norms and laws on which will rise a social construction of solid internal consistency. With this lofty purpose before Us, We turn from the crib of the Prince of Peace, confident that His grace is diffused in all hearts, to you, beloved children, who recognized and adore in Christ your Savior; We turn to all those who are united with Us at least by the bond of faith in God; We turn, finally to all those who would be free of doubt and error, and who desire light and guidance; and We exhort you with suppliant paternal insistence not only to realize fully the dreadful gravity of this hour, but also to meditate upon the vistas of good and supernatural benefit which it opens up, and to unite and collaborate towards the renewal of society in spirit and truth.
The essential aim of this necessary and holy crusade is that the Star of Peace, the Star of Bethlehem, may shine out again over the whole mankind in all its brilliant splendor and reassuring consolation as a pledge and augury of a future better, more fruitful and happier. It is true that the road from night to full day will be long; but of decisive importance are the first steps on the path, the first five mile-stones of which bear chiseled on them the following maxims:
1. Dignity of the Human Person. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over society should cooperate, for his part, in giving back to the human person the dignity given to it by God from the very beginning; should oppose the excessive herding of men, as if they were a mass without a soul; their economic, social, political, intellectual and moral inconsistency; their dearth of solid principles and strong convictions, their surfeit of instinctive sensible excitement and their fickleness.
He should favor, by every lawful means, in every sphere of life, social institutions in which a full personal responsibility is assured and guaranteed both in the early and the eternal order of things. He should uphold respect for and the practical realization of the following fundamental personal rights; the right to maintain and develop one’s corporal, intellectual and moral life and especially the right to religious formation and education; the right to worship God in private and public and to carry on religious works of charity; the right to marry and to achieve the aim of married life; the right to conjugal and domestic society; the right to work, as the indispensable means towards the maintenance of family life; the right to free choice of state of life, and hence, too, of the priesthood or religious life; the right to the use of material goods; in keeping with his duties and social limitations
2. Defense of Social Unity. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over society should reject every form of materialism which sees in the people only a herd of individuals who, divided and without any internal cohesion, are considered as a mass to be forded over and treated arbitrarily; he should strive to understand society as an intrinsic unity, which has grown up and matured under the guidance of Providence, a unity which within the bounds assigned to it and according to its own peculiar gifts—tends, with the collaboration of the various classes and professions, towards the eternal and ever new aims of culture and religion.
He should defend the indissolubility of matrimony; he should give to the family—that unique cell of the people—space, light and air so that it may attend to its mission of perpetuating new life, and of educating children in a spirit corresponding to its own true religious convictions, and that it may preserve, fortify and reconstitute, according to its powers, its proper economic, spiritual, moral and juridic unity. He should take care that the material and spiritual advantages of the family be shared by the domestic servants; he should strive to secure for every family a dwelling where a materially and morally healthy family life may be seen in all its vigor and worth; he should take care that the place of work be not so separated from the home as to make the head of the family and educator of the children a virtual stranger to his own household; he should take care above all that the bond of trust and mutual help should be reestablished between the family and the public school, that bond which in other times gave such happy results, but which now has been replaced by mistrust where the school, influenced and controlled by the spirit of materialism, corrupts and destroys what the parents have instilled into the minds of the children.
3. Dignity of Labor. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over society should give to work the place assigned to it by God from the beginning. As an indispensable means towards gaining over the world that mastery which God wishes, for His glory, all work has an inherent dignity and at the same time a close connection with the perfection of the person; this is the noble dignity and privilege of work which is not any way cheapened by the fatigue and the burden, which have to be borne as the effect of original sin, in obedience and submission to the will of God.
Those who are familiar with the great Encyclicals of Our predecessors and Our Own previous messages know well that the Church does not hesitate to draw the practical conclusions which are derived from the moral nobility of work, and to give them all the support of her authority. These exigencies include, besides a just wage which covers the needs of the worker and his family, the conservation and perfection of a social order which will make possible an assured, even if modest, private property for all classes of society, which will promote higher education for the children of the working class who are especially endowed with intelligence and good will, will promote the care and the practice of the social spirit in one’s immediate neighborhood, in the district, the province, the people and the nation, a spirit which, by smoothing over friction arising from privileges or class interests, removes from the workers the sense of isolation through the assuring experience of a genuinely human, and fraternally Christian, solidarity.
The progress and the extent of urgent social reforms depend on the economic possibilities of single Nations. It is only through an intelligent and generous sharing of forces between the strong and the weak that it will be possible to effect a universal pacification in such wise as not to leave behind centers of conflagration and infection from which new disasters may come. There are evident signs which go to show that, in the ferment of all the prejudices and feelings of hate, those inevitable but lamentable offspring of the war psychosis, there is still aflame in the people the consciousness of their intimate mutual dependence for good or for evil, nay, that this consciousness is more alive and active. It is not true that deep thinkers see ever more clearly in the renunciation of egoism and national isolation, the way to general salvation, ready as they are to demand of their peoples, a heavy participation in the sacrifices necessary for social well-being in other peoples?
May this Christmas Message of Ours, addressed to all those who are animated by a good and generous heart, encourage and increase the legions of these social crusades in every nation. And may God deign to give to their peaceful cause the victory of which their noble enterprise is worthy.
4. The Rehabilitation of Juridical Order. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over social life should collaborate towards a complete rehabilitation of the juridical order. The juridic sense of today is often altered and overturned by the profession and the practice of positivism and a utilitarianism which are subjected and bound to the service of determined groups, classes and movements, whose programs direct and determine the course of legislation and the practices of the courts. The cure of this situation becomes feasible when we awaken again the consciousness of a juridical order resting on the supreme dominion of God, and safeguarded from all human whims; a consciousness of an order which stretches forth its arm, in protection or punishment, over the unforgettable rights of man and protects them against the attacks of every human power.
From the juridic order, as willed by God, flows man’s inalienable right to juridical security, and by this very fact to a definite sphere of rights, immune from all arbitrary attack. The relations of man to man, of the individual to society, to authority, to civil duties; the relations of society and of authority to the individual, should be placed on a firm juridic footing and be guarded, when the need arises, by the authority of the courts. This supposes:
a) A tribunal and a judge who take their directions from a clearly formulated and defined right.
b) Clear juridical norms which may not be overturned by unwarranted appeals to a supposed popular sentiment or by merely utilitarian considerations.
c) The recognition of the principle that even the State and the functionaries and organizations depend on it are obliged to repair and to withdraw measures which are harmful to the liberty, property, honor, progress of health of the individuals.
5. Christian Conception of the State. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over human society should cooperate towards the setting up of a State conception and practice founded on reasonable discipline, exalted kindliness and responsible Christian spirit. He should help to restore the State and its power to the service of human society, to the full recognition of the respect due to the human person and his efforts to attain his eternal destiny. He should apply and devote himself to dispelling the errors which aim at causing the State and its authority to deviate from the path of morality, at severing them from the eminently ethical bond which links them to individual and social life, and at making them deny or in practice ignore their essential dependence on the will of the Creator. He should work for the recognition and diffusion of the truth which teaches, even in matters of this world, that the deepest meaning, the ultimate moral basis and the universal validity of “reigning” lies in “serving.”
Postwar Renovation of Society
Beloved Children, may God grant that while you listen to Our voice your heart may be profoundly stirred and moved by the deeply felt seriousness, the loving solicitude, the unremitting insistence, with which We drive home these thoughts, which are meant as an appeal to the conscience of the world, and a rallying-cry to all those who are ready to ponder and weigh the grandeur of their mission and responsibility by the vastness of this universal disaster.
A great part of mankind, and, let Us not shirk from saying it, not a few who call themselves Christians, have to some extent their share in the collective responsibility for the growth of error and for the harm and the lack of moral fiber in the society of today.
What is this world war, with all its attendant circumstances, whether they be remote or proximate causes, its progress and material, legal and moral effects? What is it but the crumbling process, not expected, perhaps, by the thoughtless but seen and depreciated by those whose gaze penetrated into the realities of a social order which hid its mortal weakness and its unbridled lust for gain and power? That which in peace-time lay coiled up, broke loose at the outbreak of war in a sad succession of acts at variance with the human and Christian sense. International agreements to make war less inhuman by confining it to the combatants to regulate the procedure of occupation and imprisonment of the conquered remained in various places a dead letter. And who can see the end of this progressive demoralization of the people, who can wish to watch helplessly this disastrous progress? Should they not rather, over the ruins of a social order which has given such tragic proof of its ineptitude as a factor for the good of the people, gather together the hearts of all those who are magnanimous and upright, in the solemn vow not to rest until in all peoples and all nations of the earth a vast legion shall be formed of those handfuls of men who, bent on bringing back society to its center of gravity, which is the law of God, aspire to the service of the human person and of his common life ennobled in God.
Mankind owes that vow to the countless dead who lie buried on the field of battle: The sacrifice of their lives in the fulfillment of their duty is a holocaust offered for a new and better social order. Mankind owes that vow to the innumerable sorrowing host of mothers, widows and orphans who have seen the light, the solace and the support of their lives wrenched from them. Mankind owes that vow to those numberless exiles whom the hurricane of war has torn from their native land and scattered in the land of the stranger; who can make their own the lament of the Prophet: “Our inheritance is turned to aliens; our house to strangers.” Mankind owes that vow to the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline. Mankind owes that vow to the many thousands of non-combatants, women, children, sick and aged, from whom aerial war-fare—whose horrors we have from the beginning frequently denounced—has without discrimination or through inadequate precautions, taken life, goods, health, home, charitable refuge, or house of prayer. Mankind owes that vow to the flood of tears and bitterness, to the accumulation of sorrow and suffering, emanating from the murderous ruin of the dreadful conflict and crying to Heaven to send down the Holy Spirit to liberate the world from the inundation of violence and terror.
And where could you with greater assurance and trust and with more efficacious faith place this vow for the renewal of society than at the foot of the “Desired of all Nations” Who lies before us in the crib with all the charm of His sweet humanity as a Babe, but also in the dynamic attraction of His incipient mission as Redeemer? Where could this noble and holy crusade for the cleaning and renewal of society have a more significant consecration or find a more potent inspiration than at Bethlehem, where the new Adam appears in the adorable mystery of the Incarnation? For it is at His fountains of truth and grace that mankind should find the water of life if it is not to perish in the desert of this life; “Of His fullness we all have received.” His fullness of grace and truth cows as freely today as it has for twenty centuries on the world.
His light can overcome the darkness, the rays of His love can conquer the icy egoism which holds so many back from becoming great and conspicuous in their higher life. To you, crusader-volunteers of a distinguished new society, live up to the new call for moral and Christian rebirth, declare war on the darkness which comes from deserting God, of the coolness that comes from strife between brothers. It is a fight for the human race, which is gravely ill and must be healed in the name of conscience ennobled by Christianity.
May Our blessing and Our paternal good wishes and encouragement go with your generous enterprise, and may they remain with all those who do not shirk hard sacrifices—those weapons which are more potent than any steel to combat the evil from which society suffers. Over your crusade for a social, human and Christian ideal may there shine out as a consolation and an inspiration the star that stands over the Grotto of Bethlehem, the first and the perennial star of the Christian Era. From the sign of it every faithful heart drew, draws and ever will draw strength; “If armies in camp should stand against me, my heart shall not fear.” Where that star shines, there is Christ. “With Him for leader we shall not wander; through Him let us go to Him, that with the Child that is born today we may rejoice forever”.
The Rosary: like David with his sling.
By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature. What prayers are better adapted and more beautiful than the Lord’s prayer and the angelic salutation, which are the flowers with which this mystical crown is formed? With meditation of the Sacred Mysteries added to the vocal prayers, there emerges another very great advantage, so that all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.
And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
But it is above all in the bosom of the family that We desire the custom of the Holy Rosary to be everywhere adopted, religiously preserved, and ever more intensely practiced. In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family, the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of the Gospel.
To undertake such a difficult duty, We affirm that the custom of the family recitation of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means. What a sweet sight – most pleasing to God – when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.
Then the home of the Christian family, like that of Nazareth, will become an earthly abode of sanctity, and, so to speak, a sacred temple, where the Holy Rosary will not only be the particular prayer which every day rises to heaven in an odor of sweetness, but will also form the most efficacious school of Christian discipline and Christian virtue. This meditation on the Divine Mysteries of the Redemption will teach the adults to live, admiring daily the shining examples of Jesus and Mary, and to draw from these examples comfort in adversity, striving towards those heavenly treasures “where neither thief draws near, nor moth destroys” (Luke 12, 33). This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.
We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this prayer, strong like David with his sling, the Church undaunted shall be able to confront the infernal enemy, repeating to him the words of the young shepherd: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies … and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear, for this is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands” (I Kings 17, 45-47)
(from Ingruentium Malorum, Encyclical on reciting the Rosary, 1951)
Terror-stricken, the people of the world have had to witness a new, immense advancement of the means and arts of destruction, and, at the same time, be spectators of an inner decay which, through the hardening and aberration of moral sensibility, precipitates the complete suppression of every sentiment of humanity and rushes toward such a darkening of reason and spirit as to verify the words of Wisdom: ‘All were tied by the same chain of darkness.’
Only Christ can drive away the baneful spirits of error and sin, which have yoked humanity to a tyrannical and demeaning slavery, making it subservient to a dominating thought and will set in motion by insatiable greed.
Only Christ, Who rescued us from the sad bondage of guilt, can teach, and smooth the way to a noble and orderly freedom resting on, and sustained by, genuine righteousness and genuine moral consciousness.
Only Christ, ‘on Whose shoulders is the government,’ can, through His succouring omnipotence, elevate mankind, lift it out of the nameless afflictions that torment it in the course of this life, and set it on the road to happiness.
A Christian who is nourished by faith in Christ and lives in Him, in the certainty that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, takes his share of the sufferings and discomforts of this world to the crib of the Son of God, and in the presence of the newborn Babe finds consolation and support unknown to the world, which gives him the courage and strength to remain unshaken, neither faltering nor succumbing in the most tormenting and gravest ordeals.
It is sad and painful to think that innumerable men, though feeling in their search for a satisfying happiness in this life the bitterness of fallacious illusions and grievous delusions, have closed the way to all hope and, living as they do far from the Christian faith, do not know how to find the way again to that consolation which makes the heroes of the faith abound in joy in all their tribulations. They see shattered the edifice of beliefs in which they had humanly placed their faith and their ideal; but they never found that one true faith which would have been able to give them comfort and renew their souls. In this intellectual and moral faltering, they are seized by a depressing uncertainty of spirit and live in a state of inertia which oppresses their soul, and which only he can fully understand and fraternally pity who has the joy of living in the familiar, vivid splendor of a supernatural faith reaching beyond the turmoil of all temporal contingencies to become fixed in the eternal.
Among the host of such embittered and deluded persons it is not difficult to point to those who placed all their faith in the universal expansion of economic life, holding it to be alone fitted to unite all peoples in brotherhood, and awaiting from its grandiose organization, increasingly perfected and increasingly efficient, unique and unsuspected progress in the welfare of the human race.
With how much complacency and pride they contemplated the increase in international trade, the exchange, spanning all continents, of all the goods and all inventions and productions, and the triumphant march of this widespread modern engineering which knows no boundaries of space or time! Today, instead, what are they experiencing in reality? They see by now that this economy with its gigantic world relations and ties and with its intricate division and multiplication of labour has cooperated in a thousand ways to make the crisis of humanity general and more serious since, not corrected by any moral brake and without any ultraterrestrial light to enlighten it, it could not but end in an unworthy and humiliating exploitation of the human person and of nature, in a sad and fearful indigence on one side and in a haughty and provoking opulence on the other, in a tormented and implacable strife between the haves and the have-nots.
Those who awaited the salvation of society from the mechanism of world economy had been so deluded, because they had become not the lords and masters, but the slaves, of material riches which they had served, detaching them from the higher end of man and making them an end in themselves.
The disillusioned of the past thought and acted differently in pinning their hopes for happiness and well-being exclusively on a certain kind of science and culture, unwilling to recognize the Creator of the universe; those pioneers and followers, not of true science, which is a marvelous reflection of God’s light, but of a proud science which, giving no place at all to the work of a personal God subject to no limitations and superior to all that is of the earth, boasted of the ability to explain he happenings of this world through a rigid and deterministic concatenation of iron-clad natural laws.
But such a science cannot give happiness and well-being. Apostasy from the Divine Word, by Whom all things were made, has led man to apostasy from the spirit, in such manner as to make it hard for him to pursue elevated intellectual and moral ideals and objectives. In this way, science, which had denied the spiritual life, while it vainly thought to have acquired full freedom and autonomy by disowning God, sees itself punished today through the most humiliating bondage, having become the slave and the practically automatic fulfiller of policies and orders that take into account whatever the rights of truth and of the human person. What to that science seemed to be freedom was a chain of humiliation and ignominy; it will regain its original dignity only through a return to the eternal Word, fount of wisdom so foolishly abandoned and forgotten.
(from Broadcast to the World, December 24, 1943)
In this time of new persecutions against Christians, we are publishing the words of the Venerable Pope Pius XII, February 2, 1949, the people of Rome, condemning the persecution of Christians in Eastern Europe brought forward by the socialist and communist dictatorships.
A well-known characteristic common to persecutors of all times is that, not content with physically crushing their victims, they want also to make them appear despicable and hateful to their country and to society.
Who does not remember the Roman martyrs immolated under Nero and made to appear as arsonists, abominable criminals, enemies of mankind? Modern persecutors show themselves to be the docile disciples of that inglorious school.
They copy their masters and models, if, indeed, they do not surpass them in cruelty, clever as they are in the art of employing the most recent progress in the technical sciences for the purpose of a domination and enslavement of the people which in the past would not have been conceivable.
The Church of Christ is following the road traced out for her by the divine Redeemer. She feels herself eternal; she knows that she cannot perish, that the most violent storms will not succeed in submerging her. She begs no favours; the threats and disfavor of earthly authorities do not intimidate her. She does not interfere in problems purely economic or political, nor does she occupy herself with debates on the usefulness or banefulness of one form of government or another. Always eager, in so far as she is able, to be at peace with all, she renders unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but she cannot betray or abandon that which belongs to God.
Now, it is well known what the totalitarian and anti-religious State requires and expects from the Church as the price for tolerance and its problematical recognition. To amplify, it would desire: a Church who remains silent, when she should speak out; a Church who weakens the law of God, adapting it to the taste of human desires, when she should loudly proclaim and defend it; a Church who detaches herself from the unwavering foundation upon which Christ built her, in order to repose comfortably on the shifting sands of the opinions of the day or to give herself up to the passing current; a Church who does not withstand the suppression of conscience and does not protect the legitimate rights and the just liberties of the people; a Church who with indecorous servility remains enclosed within the four walls of the temple, who forgets the divine mandate received from Christ: Go forth on the crossroads, teach all peoples.
The Pope has the divine promises; even in his human weaknesses, he is invincible and unshakable; messenger of truth and justice, the principle of the unity of the Church, his voice denounces errors, idolatry, superstition, it condemns iniquity, makes charity and virtue loved.
Can the Pope then remain silent when in a nation the churches which are united to the centre of Christendom, to Rome, are snatched away through violence or cunning; when all the Greek-Catholic bishops are imprisoned because they refuse to apostatize from their faith; when priests and the faithful are persecuted and arrested because they refuse to leave their true Mother Church?
Can the Pope remain silent, when the right to educate their own children is taken away from parents by a minority regime which wants to alienate them from Christ?
Can the Pope remain silent when a State, surpassing the limits of its authority, arrogates to itself the power to abolish dioceses, to depose Bishops, to overturn the ecclesiastical organization, and to reduce it below the minimum requirements for the effectual care of souls?
Can the Pope remain silent when things go so far that imprisonment is given as punishment to a priest guilty of refusing to violate the most sacred and inviolable of secrets, that of sacramental confession?
Is all this perhaps illegitimate interference in the political powers of the State? Who could honestly affirm anything of the kind?
(Address to the People of Rome, February 2, 1949)
He who reproaches the Church for not caring about the body and physical culture is just as far from the truth as he who would like to restrict her competence and her activity to ‘purely religious things, ‘exclusively spiritual’ matters. As if the body, God’s creation just as much as is the soul to which it is united, should not have its share in the homage to be paid to the Creator! ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink’, wrote the Apostle of the Gentiles to the Corinthians, ‘or whatever else you do’. Actually, he often talks about this explicitly; he speaks about racing and wrestling, not with expressions of criticism or condemnation, but as an expert who elevates and ennobles them by a Christian approach.
For what, finally, is sport if not one of the forms of education of the body? Now this education is in strict relationship with morals. How then could the Church be indifferent to them?
Actually, she has always had a consideration and solicitude for the human body which materialism, in its idolatrous cult, has never shown. And that is natural, because it sees and knows in the body only the material flesh, whose vigour and beauty are born and bloom only to fade and die, like grass in the fields. Far different is the Christian conception. The human body is, in itself, the masterpiece of God in the order of visible creation. The Lord had destined it to bloom here below in order to unfold itself immortal in the glory of Heaven. He joined it to the spirit in the unity of human nature, so that the soul might enjoy the enchantment of God’s works, to help it to behold in this mirror their common Creator, to get to know Him, worship Him, love Him! It was not God Who made the human body mortal, but sin; only because of sin must the body, taken from dust, one day return to dust. But the Lord will raise it again to recall it to life. Even when they are reduced to dust, the Church respects and honours bodies, dead only to rise again.
But the Apostle Paul leads us to an even higher vision: ‘Do you not know’, he says, ‘that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body’. What, then, is primarily the function and purposes of ‘sport’, in a healthy, Christian sense, if not the cultivation of the dignity and the harmony of the human body, the development of health, vigour, agility, and gracefulness?
Nor should St Paul be reproached for his energetic expression: «Castigo corpus meum et in servitutem redigo. I chastise my body and bring it into subjection», since in that same passage he draws and example from the fervid worshippers of sport. Sport, moderately and conscientiously practiced, strengthens the body, makes it healthy, fresh, and vigourous. But to accomplish this task of education, the body is submitted to a rigorous and often harsh discipline which dominates it and keeps it truly in subjection: arduous training, resistance to pain, the habit of continence and strict temperance, all are indispensable conditions for whoever wants to reach for victory. Sport is an effective antidote against softness and easy living; it awakens the sense of order and trains one to self-criticism and self-control, to hold danger in contempt, without bragging or cowardice. Thus it already goes beyond mere physical robustness, to lead us on the way to moral strength and greatness. From the native country of sport, the proverbial ‘fair play’ had its origin, that chivalrous and courteous emulation which elevates the spirits above the meanness of cheating, the tricks of a touchy and vindictive vanity, and preserves them from the excesses of a narrow, intransigent nationalism. Sport is a school of loyalty, courage, tolerance, resoluteness, universal brotherhood, all natural virtues, but which provides a solid basis for the supernatural virtues, and prepares one to support without flinching the weight of the gravest responsibilities.
To subject the body to healthy fatigue in order to rest the mind and get it ready for new labours, to sharpen the senses in order to acquire a greater intensity of penetration for the intellectual faculties, to exercise the muscles and become accustomed to effort in order to temper the character and to form a will as strong and as flexible as steel: such was the idea that the mountain-climbing priest had formed of sport. In this sense, sport is not an end, but a means; as such it must be and must remain subordinated to the end, which consists in the perfect, well-balanced formation and education of man as a whole, man whom sport helps to carry out his duty readily and joyfully, both at work and in family life.
In the service of a healthy, robust, ardent life, in the service of a more fruitful activity in carrying out the duties of one’s own state, sport can and must be also in the service of God. To this end, in fact, it encourages people to direct the physical strength and moral virtues which it develops; but whereas the pagan used to submit to the severe regimen of sport to obtain only a short-lived wreath, the Christian submits to it for a higher purpose, for an immortal prize.
For what would be the use of physical courage and energy of character if the Christian made use of them only for earthly ends, to win a ‘cup’ or to parade as a superman? If he did not know, when necessary, how to cut down his sleep by a half-hour or postpone a stadium appointment, rather than neglect assisting at Holy Mass on Sunday; if he did not succeed in overcoming respect of persons in the practice and defence of his religion; if he did not use his presence and his authority to stop or repress—by a look, a word, a gesture—a curse, foul language, an act of indecency; if he did not protect the youngest and the weakest against provocations and suspicious attentions; if he did not foster the habit of concluding his happy successes in sport with praise to God, the Creator and Lord of nature and of all its power? Keep always in mind that the highest honour and the holiest destiny of the body is to be the dwelling of a soul which is resplendent with moral purity and sanctified by divine grace.
(Address to Youth of Catholic Action, May 20, 1945)
Venerable brethren, in order that we may be able to gather from these holy considerations abundant and salutary fruits, We desire to reflect on and briefly contemplate the manifold affections, human and divine, of our Savior Jesus Christ which His Heart made known to us during the course of His mortal life and which It still does and will continue to do for all eternity. From the pages of the Gospel particularly there shines forth for us the light, by the brightness and strength of which we can enter into the secret places of this divine Heart and, with the Apostle of the Gentiles, gaze at “the abundant riches of (God’s) grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus”.
The adorable Heart of Jesus Christ began to beat with a love at once human and divine after the Virgin Mary generously pronounced Her “Fiat”; and the Word of God, as the Apostle remarks, “coming into the world, saith, «Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou hast fitted to Me; holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I, Behold I come; in the head of the book it is written of Me, that I should do thy will, O God!»… in which will we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once”. Likewise was He moved by love, completely in harmony with the affections of His human will and the divine Love, when in the house of Nazareth He conversed with His most sweet Mother and His foster father, St. Joseph, in obedience to whom He performed laborious tasks in the trade of a carpenter. Again, He was influenced by that threefold love, of which We spoke, during His public life: in long apostolic journeys; in the working of innumerable miracles, by which He summoned back the dead from the grave or granted health to all manner of sick persons; in enduring labors; in bearing fatigue, hunger and thirst; in the nightly watchings during which He prayed most lovingly to His Father; and finally, in His preaching and in setting forth and explaining His parables, in those particularly which deal with mercy the lost drachma, the lost sheep, the prodigal son. By these indeed both by act and by word, as St. Gregory the Great notes, the Heart of God Itself is revealed: “Learn the Heart of God in the words of God, that you may long more ardently for things eternal”.
But the Heart of Jesus Christ was moved by a more urgent charity when from His lips were drawn words breathing the most ardent love. Thus, to give examples: when He was gazing at the crowds weary and hungry, He exclaimed: “I have compassion upon the crowd”; and when He looked down on His beloved city of Jerusalem, blinded by its sins, and so destined for final ruin, He uttered this sentence: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that slayest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not!”. And His Heart beat with love for His Father and with a holy anger when seeing the sacrilegious buying and selling taking place in the Temple, He rebuked the violators with these words: “It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves”. But His Heart was moved by a particularly intense love mingled with fear as He perceived the hour of His bitter torments drawing near and, expressing a natural repugnance for the approaching pains and death, He cried out: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me”. And when He was greeted by the traitor with a kiss, in love triumphant united to deepest grief, He addressed to him those words which seem to be the final invitation of His most merciful Heart to the friend who, obdurate in his wicked treachery, was about to hand Him over to His executioners: “Friend, whereto art thou come? Dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”.
It was out of pity and the depths of His love that He spoke to the devout women as they wept for Him on His way to the unmerited penalty of the Cross: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children… For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?”. And when the divine Redeemer was hanging on the Cross, He showed that His Heart was strongly moved by different emotions – burning love, desolation, pity, longing desire, unruffled peace. The words spoken plainly indicate these emotions: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!”; “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”; “Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise”; “I thirst”; “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit”.
But who can worthily depict those beatings of the divine Heart, the signs of His infinite love, of those moments when He granted men His greatest gifts: Himself in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, His most holy Mother, and the office of the priesthood shared with us? Even before He ate the Last Supper with His disciples Christ Our Lord, since He knew He was about to institute the sacrament of His body and blood by the shedding of which the new covenant was to be consecrated, felt His heart roused by strong emotions, which He revealed to the Apostles in these words: “With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer”. And these emotions were doubtless even stronger when “taking bread, He gave thanks, and broke, and gave to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you, this do in commemoration of Me”. Likewise the chalice also, after He had supped, saying, “This chalice is the new testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you”. It can therefore be declared that the divine Eucharist, both the sacrament which He gives to men and the sacrifice in which He unceasingly offers Himself from the rising of the sun till the going down thereof”, and likewise the priesthood, are indeed gifts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Another most precious gift of His Sacred Heart is, as We have said, Mary the beloved Mother of God and the most loving Mother of us all. She who gave birth to our Savior according to the flesh and was associated with Him in recalling the children of Eve to the life of divine grace has deservedly been hailed as the spiritual Mother of the whole human race. And so St. Augustine writes of her: “Clearly She is Mother of the members of the Savior (which is what we are), because She labored with Him in love that the faithful who are members of the Head might be born in the Church”.
To the unbloody gift of Himself under the appearance of bread and wine our Savior Jesus Christ wished to join, as the chief proof of His deep and infinite love, the bloody sacrifice of the Cross. By this manner of acting He gave an example of His supreme charity, which He had proposed to His disciples as the highest point of love in these words: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. After our Lord had ascended into heaven with His body adorned with the splendors of eternal glory and took His place by the right hand of the Father, He did not cease to remain with His Spouse, the Church, by means of the burning love with which His Heart beats. For He bears in His hands, feet and side the glorious marks of the wounds which manifest the threefold victory won over the devil, sin, and death. He likewise keeps in His Heart, locked as it were in a most precious shrine, the unlimited treasures of His merits, the fruits of that same threefold triumph, which He generously bestows on the redeemed human race.
From Encyclical Haurietis Aquas on devotion to the Sacred Heart, May 15, 1956
On the occasion of the liturgical feast of St. Eugene, June 2, feast day of Venerable Pius XII, we publish a short excerpt of the speech that Pacelli spoke to thank the Italian cardinals who had done him good wishes, on the same occasion in 1944.
From the day of the promise given at Caesarea Philippi, and of its fulfilment on Lake Tiberias, there exists a living bond between Christ and Peter, a bond which, though mysterious, is none the less real, a bond knotted in time but having its origin in the eternal counsels of the Almighty. The heavenly Father, Who revealed the mystery of the divinity of Christ to Simon, the son of Jona, and thus made him able to answer with an open and ready confession the Redeemer’s question, had from all eternity predestined the fisherman of Bethsaida for his unique office; and Christ Himself merely carried out the Father’s will when in His promise and in the conferment of the primacy He used words which were to establish forever the uniqueness of the privileged position attributed to Peter.
Those, therefore, who – as was stated (or, rather, repeated) not so long ago by some representatives of religious denominations that profess to be Christians – declare that there is no Vicar of Christ on earth, because Christ Himself has promised to remain with His Church as her Head and Lord until the end of time, besides depriving every Episcopal office of its foundation, completely misunderstand the profound meaning of the pontifical primacy, which is not negation, but fulfilment of that promise. For, if it is true that Christ in the fullness of His divine power disposes of the most varied forms of illumination and sanctification, in which He is really with those who confess Him, it is no less certain that He entrusted Peter and his successors with the guidance and government of the Universal Church and the treasures of truth and grace of His work of redemption.
The words of Christ to Peter leave no doubt as to their meaning: this was recognized and believed by both East and West, in times above suspicion, and with admirable harmony. To insist on creating an opposition between Christ as head of the Church and His Vicar, to see in the affirmation of the one the negation of the other, is to introduce confusion into the clearest and most luminous pages of the Gospel, to shut one’s eyes to the most ancient and venerable testimony of tradition, and to deprive Christianity of that precious inheritance, a true knowledge and esteem of which may, at a time that is known only to God and by means of the light of grace which He alone can give, arouse in our separated brethren the longing for their ancestral home and the efficacious resolve to return to it.
When, every year, on the evening before the feast of the Prince of the Apostles, We visit Our Patriarchal Vatican Basilica, to implore, on the tomb of the first Peter, the strength to serve the flock entrusted to Us according to the designs and ends of the eternal High Priest, from the majestic vault of that lofty temple there shimmer before Our eyes in gleaming mosaics the mighty words with which Christ manifested His intention of building the Church on the rock of Peter, and they remind Us of Our imperious duty to preserve intact this incomparable heritage of the divine Redeemer. While We behold shining before Us the ‘glory’ of Bernini, and above the Chair, held up by the gigantic figures of Ambrose and Augustine, of Athanasius and John Chrysostom, We see resplendent and dominating in a blaze of light the symbol of the Holy Ghost, We feel and experience the fullness of the sacred character, of the superhuman mission, that the will of the Lord with the assistance of the Spirit, promised and sent by Him, has conferred on this central point of the Church of the Living God, columna et firmamentum veritatis – pillar and foundation of truth.
(Allocution to the Sacred College, June 2, 1944; translation © Michael Chinigo 1958; here, the all text in Italian)
Your Excellency: We have just received from the hands of your personal representative, Mr Myron Taylor, Your Excellency’s letter of August 6, and We hasten to express Our satisfaction and thanks for this last testimony to the desire and determination of a great and free people to dedicate themselves, with their characteristic confidence and generosity, to the noble task of strengthening the foundations of that peace for which all peoples of the earth are longing. As their chosen leader, Your Excellency seeks to enlist and cement the co-operation of every force and power which can help to accomplish this task. No one more than We will hope for its success, and for the happy achievement of the goal We pledge Our resources and earnestly beg God’s assistance. What is proposed is to ensure the foundations of a lasting peace among nations. It were indeed futile to promise long life to any building erected on shifting sands or a cracked and crumbling base. The foundations, We know, of such a peace – the truth finds expression once again in Your Excellency’s letter – can be secure only if they rest on bedrock faith in the one, true God, Creator of all men. It was He who of necessity assigned man’s purpose in life.
It is from Him, with consequent necessity, that man derives personal imprescriptible rights to pursue that purpose and to be unhindered in the attainment of it. Civic society is also of Divine origin and indicated by nature itself but it is subsequent to man and meant to be a means to defend him and to help him in the legitimate exercise of his God-given rights. Once the state to the exclusion of God makes itself the source of the rights of the human person, man is forthwith reduced to the condition of a slave or a mere civic commodity to be exploited for the selfish aims of a group that happens to have power. The order of God is overturned and history surely makes it clear to those who wish to read that the inevitable result in the subversion of order between peoples is war. The task, then, before the friends of peace is clear. Is Your Excellency over-sanguine in hoping to find men throughout the world ready to co-operate in such a worthy enterprise? We think not. Truth has lost none of its power to rally to its cause the most enlightened minds and noblest spirits. Their ardour is fed by the flame of righteous freedom struggling to break through injustice and lying. But those who possess the truth must be conscientious to define it clearly when its foes cleverly distort it, bold to defend it, and generous enough to set the course of their lives, both national and personal, by its dic¬tates. This will require, moreover, correcting not a few aberra¬tions. Social injustices, racial injustices, and religious animosities exist today among men and groups who boast of Christian civilization, and they are a very useful and often effective weapon in the hands of those who are bent on destroying all the good which that civilization has brought to man.
It is for all sincere lovers of the great human family to unite in wresting those weapons from hostile hands. With that union will come hope that the enemies of God and free men will not prevail. Certainly Your Excellency and all the defenders of the rights of the human person will find wholehearted co-operation from God’s Church. Faithful custodian of eternal Truth and loving mother of all, from her foundation almost two thousand years ago, she has championed the individual against despotic rule, the labourer against oppression, religion against persecution. Her divinely given mission often brings her into conflict with the powers of evil, whose sole strength is in their physical force and brutalized spirit, and her leaders are sent into exile or cast into prison or die under torture. This is history of today. But the Church is unafraid. She cannot compromise with an avowed enemy of God. She must continue to teach the first and greatest commandment incumbent on every man: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole strength,’ and the second is like unto the first: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ It is her changeless message that man’s first duty is to God, then to his fellow man; that that man serves his country best who serves his God most faithfully; that the country that would shackle the word of God given to men through Jesus Christ helps not at all the lasting peace of the world. In striving with all the resources in her power to bring men and nations to a clear realization of their duty to God, the Church will go on, as she has always done, to offer the most effective contribution to the world’s peace and man’s eternal salvation.
We are pleased that Your Excellency’s letter has given Us the opportunity of saying a word of encouragement for all those who are gravely intent on buttressing the fragile structure of peace until its foundation can be more firmly and wisely established. The munificent charity shown by the American people to the suffering and oppressed in every part of the world, truly worthy of the finest Christian traditions, is a fair token of their sincere desire for universal peace and prosperity. The vast majority of the peoples of the world, We feel sure, share that desire, even in countries where free expression is smothered. God grant that their forces may be united toward its realization. There is no room for discouragement or for relaxing of their efforts under the gracious and merciful providence of God, the Father of all that is good and holy, and justice will in the end prevail. Let Us assure Your Excellency of Our cordial welcome to Mr Taylor, your personal representative, on his return to Rome; and We are happy to renew the expression of Our good wishes for the people of the United States, for the members of their government, and in particular for its esteemed Chief Executive.
(Letter to President Harry S. Truman, August 26, 1947; translation © Michael Chinigo 1958. The President’s letter is published on http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12746)
Our grave apprehensions with regard to Europe are motivated by the incessant disillusionments which for many years have wrecked the sincere desire for peace and relaxation of tension cherished by the European peoples, largely because of a materi¬alistic approach to the problem of peace. We are thinking espe¬cially of those who consider the question of peace as being of a technical nature and view the life of individuals and of nations under a combined technical-economic aspect. This materialistic concept of life threatens to become the rule of conduct of the busy agents of peace and the recipe of their pacifist policy. They believe that the secret of the solution would be to give material prosperity to all peoples through constant increase in the pro¬ductivity of labour and the standard of living, just as, a hundred years ago, another similar formula won the absolute confidence of statesmen: Free trade means eternal peace. But no sort of materialism has ever been a satisfactory means for the establishment of peace, since peace is above all an attitude of the spirit and only on a secondary level is it a harmonious equilibrium of external forces. It is, then, an error in principle to entrust peace to modern materialism, which corrupts man at the roots and suffocates his personal and spiritual life. Besides, experience leads to the same state of mistrust in that it demonstrates that, even in our time, when the costly potential of technical and economic forces is distributed more or less equally between both sides, it imposes a reciprocal fear. The resultant peace, therefore, would be one based solely on fear, not the peace which means certainty of the future. It is necessary to repeat this untiringly and to persuade those among the people who allow themselves to be easily deceived by the mirage that peace consists in an abundance of wealth, whereas a stable peace is above a problem of spiritual unity and moral inclinations. (Allocution to the Sacred College, December 24, 1953; translation © Michael Chinigo 1958)