Here at last we behold the end of this war, which,
during almost six years, has held Europe in the grip of the most atrocious
suffering and most bitter sorrow
A cry of humble and ardent gratitude arises from the
very depths of our heart to "the Father of Mercies and the God
of All Consolation."
But our canticle of thanksgiving is accompanied with
the suppliant prayer to implore also of divine omnipotence and goodness
the termination, in accord with justice, of the sanguinary warfare in
the Far East.
On our knees in spirit before the tombs, before the
ravines disturbed and reddened by blood, where repose the innumerable
corpses of those who have fallen, victims of the fighting or of inhuman
massacres, of hunger or of misery, we recommend them all in our prayers,
and especially in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, to the merciful
love of Jesus Christ, their Saviour and their judge.
And it seems to us that they, the fallen, are giving
warning to the survivors of this cruel scourge and are saying to them:
Let there arise from the earth, wherein we have been placed as grains
of wheat, the molders and builders of a new and better Europe, of a
new and better universe, founded on the filial fear of God, on fidelity
to His Holy Commandments, on respect for human dignity, on the sacred
principle of equality of the rights of all peoples and all states, large
and small, weak and strong.
The war has created on all sides chaotic ruin, both
material and moral, such as mankind has never known in the entire course
of human history. The task of this hour is to rebuild the world.
As the first element of this restoration, we long to
see, after so long a period of waiting, the prompt and speedy return,
in so far as circumstances permit, of the prisoners, of the interned,
combatants and civilians, to their homes and to their wives, children
and the noble works of peace.
To all them we say: Let not your energy flag nor your
courage fail; dedicate yourselves ardently to the work of reconstruction,
sustained by a strong faith in divine providence. Apply yourselves to
labor, each one at his post, resolute and determined, with a heart animated
by a generous, indestructible love of one's fellow-man.
It is difficult, certainly, but it is also a holy undertaking
that awaits you in repairing the immediate and disastrous consequences
of the war. We refer to the decay of public order, misery and hunger,
the relaxing and brutalizing of customs and usages, the lack of discipline
among the youth.
By so doing, little by little, you will prepare for
your cities and your villages, for your provinces and your fatherlands,
a lot more acceptable and renewed vigor to your blood.
With the threat of death lying in wait driven from
the earth, from the sea and from the sky, the lives of men, creatures
of God, and that which remains to them of their private and common possession
henceforth assured by the laying down of arms, men can now set free
their minds and spirits to the building of the peace.
If we limit ourselves to consideration of Europe, we
find ourselves face to face now with gigantic problems and difficulties
which we must overcome if we wish to plan the way to a true peace, the
only one that can be lasting.
Peace, indeed, cannot flower and prosper except in
an atmosphere of secure justice and of perfect fidelity, joined with
reciprocal trust, mutual understanding and benevolence.
The war has aroused everywhere discord, suspicion and
hatred. If, therefore the world wishes to regain peace, it is necessary
that falsehood and rancor should vanish and in their stead that sovereign
truth and charity should reign.
Above all, however, in our daily prayers, we should
beseech God constantly to fulfill his promise made by the mouth of the
Prophet Ezekiel, "And I will give them one heart, and will put
a new spirit in their bowels; and I will take away the stony heart out
of their flesh: that they may walk in my commandments, and keep my judgments,
and do them: and that they may be my people, and I may be their God."
May the Lord God deign to create this new spirit, His
spirit, in peoples, and particularly in the hearts of those to whom
he has entrusted the responsibility of establishing the future peace.
Then and only then will the reborn world avoid the
return of the thunderous scourge of war and there will reign a true,
stable and universal brotherhood, and that peace guaranteed by Christ
even on earth to those who are willing to believe and trust in His law