We most cordially greet you all, beloved sons and
daughters of Rome and of the entire world, in the spirit of Alleluia
of Easter morn, in the joyful spirit of the resurrection and peace in Christ,
after the desolation of His divine passion; but, unfortunately, there
has been no resurrection, no restoration, of peace among nations and
in Our joyful greeting to you there must be intermingled that note of
distress which was the cause of great sadness and continual sorrow to
the heart of Paul the Apostle while he was preoccupied about his brethren
who were his kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9: 12).
In the lamentable spectacle of human conflict which We are now witnessing
We acknowledge the valor and loyalty of all those who with a deep sense
of duty are fighting for the defense and prosperity of their homeland.
We recognize, too, the prodigious and, in itself, efficacious development
made in industrial and technical fields, nor do We overlook the many
generous and praiseworthy gestures of magnanimity which have been made
towards the enemy; but while We acknowledge, We feel obliged nonetheless
to state that the ruthless struggle has at times assumed forms which
can be described only as atrocious. May all belligerents, who also have
human hearts moulded by mothers' love, show some feeling of charity
for the sufferings of civilian populations, for defenseless women and
children, for the sick and aged, all of whom are often exposed to greater
and more widespread perils of war than those faced by soldiers at the
We beseech the belligerent powers to abstain until the very end from
the use of still more homicidal instruments of warfare; for the introduction
of such weapons inevitably results in their retaliatory use, often with
greater violence by the enemy. If already We must lament the fact that
the limits of legitimate warfare have been repeatedly exceeded, would
not the more widespread use of increasingly barbarous offensive weapons
soon transform war into unspeakable horror?
In this tempest of misfortunes and perils, of afflictions and fears,
our most powerful and safest haven of trust and peace is found in prayer
to God, in Whose hands rest not only the destiny of men but also the
outcome of their most obdurate dissensions. Wherefore We express Our
gratitude to Catholics of the entire World for the fervor with which
they responded to Our call to prayer and sacrifice for peace on Nov.
Today We repeat that invitation to you and to all those who raise their
minds and hearts to God and We beseech you not to relax your prayerful
vigilance but rather to re-animate and redouble it. Yes, let us pray
for early peace. Let us pray for universal peace; not for peace based
upon the oppression and destruction of peoples but peace which, while
guaranteeing the honor of all nations, will satisfy their vital needs
and insure the legitimate rights of all.
We have constantly accompanied prayer with Our own endeavors. To the
very limit of Our power and with a vigilant consciousness of impartiality
in spirit, and in Our apostolic office We have left nothing undone or
untried in order to forestall or shorten the conflict, to humanize the
methods of war, to alleviate suffering and to bring assistance and comfort
to the victims of war. We have not hesitated to indicate in unmistakenly
clear terms the necessary principles and sentiments which must constitute
the determining basis of a future peace that will assure the sincere
and loyal consent of all peoples. But We are saddened to note that there
seems to be as yet little likelihood of an approximate realization of
peace that will be just, in accordance with human and Christian norms.
Thus Our supplications to heaven must be raised with ever increasing
meaning and fervor, that a new spirit may take root and develop in all
peoples and especially among those whose greater power gives them wider
influence and imposes upon them additional responsibility; the spirit
of willingness, devoid of sham and' artifice, that is ready to make
mutual sacrifices in order to build, upon the accumulated ruins of war,
a new edifice of fraternal solidarity among the nations of the world,
an edifice built upon new and stronger foundations, with fixed and stable
guarantees, and with a high sense of moral sincerity which would repudiate
every double standard of morality and justice for the great and the
small or for the strong and the weak.
Truth like man has but a single face: and truth is Our weapon just
as prayer is Our defense and strength, and the living sincere and disinterested
apostolic word inspired by fraternal affection, Our entree to the hearts
These are not offensive and bloody weapons but the arms of spirit,
arms of Our mind and heart. Nothing can impede or restrain Us from using
them to secure and safeguard just rights, true human brotherhood and
genuine peace, wherever the sacred duty of Our office prompts Us and
compassion for the multitude rekindles Our love.
Nothing can restrain Us from repeatedly calling to the observance of
the precept of love those who are children of the Church of Christ,
those who because of their faith in the Divine Saviour at least in Our
Father Who is in Heaven are very near to Us.
Nothing can impede or restrain Us from doing all in Our power in order
that, in the tempest of surging waves of enmity among the peoples of
the earth, the Divine Ark of the Church of Christ may be held firmly
by the anchor of hope under the golden rays of peace-that blessed vision
of peace which, in the midst of worldly conflicts, is the refuge and
abode and sustenance of that fraternal spirit, founded in God and ennobled
in the shadow of the Cross, with which the course must be set if we
are to escape from the present tempest and reach the shore of a happier
and more deserving future.
However, under the vigilant Providence of God and armed only with prayer,
exhortation and consolation, We shall persevere in Our battle for peace
in behalf of suffering humanity May the blessings and comforts of Heaven
descend on all victims of this war: upon you who are prisoners and upon
your families from whom you are separated and who are anxious about
you; and upon you refugees and dispossessed who have lost your homes
and land, your life's support. We share with you your anguish and suffering.
If it is not allowed Us as We would honestly desire-to take upon Ourselves
the burden of your sorrows, may Our paternal and cordial sympathy serve
as the balm which will temper the bitterness of your misfortune with
today's greeting of the Alleluia, the hymn of Christ's triumph over
earthly martyrdom, the blossom of the olive tree of Gethsemane flourishing
in the precious hope of resurrection and of the new and eternal life
in which there will be neither sorrows nor struggles. In this vale of
tears there is no lasting city (Hebrews 13: 14), no eternal homeland.
Here below we are all exiles and wanderers; our true citizenship, which
is limitless, is in Heaven, in eternity, in God. If worldly hopes have
bitterly deluded you, remember that hope in God never fails or deceives.
You must make one resolve-not to allow yourself to be induced, either
by your sad lot or by the malice of men to waver in your allegiance
Prosperity and adversity are part and parcel of man's earthly existence;
but what is of the utmost importance, and We say it with St. Augustine,
is the use that is made of what is called prosperity or adversity. For
the virtuous man is neither exalted by worldly well-being nor humbled
by temporal misfortune; the evil man on the other hand, being corrupted
in prosperity, is made to suffer in adversity.
To the powers occupying territories during the war, We say with all
due consideration: let your conscience guide you in dealing justly,
humanely and providently with the peoples of occupied territories. Do
not impose upon them burdens which you in similar circumstances have
felt or would feel to be unjust.
Prudent and helpful humanitarianism is the commendation and boast of
wise generals; and the treatment of prisoners and civilians in occupied
areas is the surest indication and proof of the civilization of individuals
and nations. But above all remember that upon the manner in which you
deal with those whom the fortunes of war put in your hands may depend
the blessing or curse of God upon your own land.
Contemplation of a war that is so cruel in all its aspects and the
thought of the suffering children of the Church inspires in the heart
of the Common Father and forms upon Our lips words of comfort and encouragement
for the pastors and faithful of those places where the Church, the Spouse
of Christ, is suffering most; where fidelity to her, the public profession
of her doctrines, the conscientious and practical observance of her
laws, moral resistance to atheism and to de-Christianizing influences
deliberately favored or tolerated, are being openly or insidiously opposed
and daily in various ways made increasingly difficult.
The records and artifices of this generally secret but at times even
public martyrdom, which insidious or open impiety makes followers of
the Crucified suffer, are multiplying daily and constitute as it were
in an encyclopedia of many volumes, annals of heroic sacrifices, and
furnish moving verification of the words of Our Divine Saviour: "The
servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they
will also persecute you" (John 5:20).
Is this divine warning not a source of tender comfort on that sorrowful
and bitter Way of the Cross which you are following because of your
fidelity to Christ? To all of you who are walking so sadly along this
way, priests and Religious, men and women and particularly you young
men, pride and joy of your families, who are called upon to bear the
burden of these merciless and bitter days-whatever be your origin, language,
race, social condition or profession-all you upon whom the seal of suffering
for Christ is stamped so clearly, a sign no less of suffering than of
glory, as it was to the great Apostle Paul; you are numbered among those
privileged intimate who are nearest to the Cross of Calvary and by this
very fact nearest also to the pierced Heart of Christ and to Our own.
Oh that We were able to make you appreciate how profoundly Our heart
has been pierced by the cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles "Who
is weak, and I am not weak?" (Second Corinthians 11:29). The sacrifices
you are called upon to make, your suffering in mind and body, your concern
for your own faith and still more for the faith of your children, We
are aware of them, We share them with you, We lament them before God.
And yet withal, on this day We greet you with joyful Alleluia; for
it is the day of Christ's triumph over His crucifiers, open and secret,
ancient and modern. We convey that greeting to you with the voice and
confidence with which, even in the days of the persecution, the early
Christians exultantly sang that Alleluia. Perhaps you do not recall
the words of Our Lord to Martha: "I am the resurrection, and the
life: he that believeth in Me shall not die forever" (John ii:
25:26). The certainty they were assuring themselves of resurrection
made of martyrs heroes of Christ and faithful unto death. You enjoy
that same certainty. Imitate them and with the greatest Prophet of the
New and Eternal Testament raise your eyes to that Heavenly Jerusalem
where Christ gloriously reigns and rules and while rewarding His good
and faithful servants proclaims the mystery and splendor of their triumph
in the shining whiteness of their garments, in the indelible inscription
of their names in the Book of Life and decreeing that they be exalted
before His Father and the Heavenly Court, with admirable words which
you in your perilous trials must never forget: "He that shall overcome
shall thus be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his
name out of the Book of Life but I will confess his name before My Father
and before His angels" (Apocalypse 3: 5).
Beloved sons and daughters! Jesus Christ, "Prince of Kings on
earth, Who hath loved us and washed us from our sin in His Own blood"
(Apocalypse 1:5), raise your eyes while, as pledge of that heavenly
peace which He alone can give to us and which We implore of Him in superabundant
measure for all humanity, We impart to you, to pastors and faithful,
to your families, to your children, that Christ may protect and keep
you in His grace and love, to those who in the fulfillment of duty are
fighting on land and sea and in the sky and especially to all those
who have been so severely lashed by the scourge of war with heart overflowing
with love. Our paternal Apostolic Benediction.
May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, descend
upon you and remain forever, Amen.
 The Catholic News, April 19, 1941.