Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ADSS 1.54 Pius XII Name Day Address to the College of Cardinals

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 1.54 Pius XII Name Day Address to the College of Cardinals

Reference: Discorsi e Radiomessagi, I, 151-155

Location and date: Vatican, 02.06.1939

Summary statement: Pope speaks of the concerns of the day; peace proposals made to the five countries and their reaction; intention to launch a renewed initiative if needed to; prayer crusade for peace.

Language: Italian


We have been permitted today through God’s inscrutable ways to commemorate for the first time the feast of Our Blessed Patron in Peter’s chair – all unworthily inherited – to which Eugenius I brought new lustre by his vigilant Apostolic action as well as the dedicated sanctity and integrity of his life’ and on this day, nothing could be more reassuring than the presence of those providentially assigned to be the closest collaborators in the many sacred cares of the Supreme Pastoral Office.

The eloquent and heartfelt good wishes which the Venerable Dean (1) of the Sacred College, most beloved of yourselves and Us, has addressed to Us in your name with that loftiness of thought and phrase of which he holds the secret, are for Us the clear expression of an intimate association, of the sincere devotion of your innermost selves for which we thank you profoundly.

At the same time, we feel especially moved to beseech Our Lord as did the Apostle of the Gentiles “that your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus for me” (Philippians 1.26).  Our hope finds support and strength, first of all in the grace of the diverse ways of Him who “has chosen the weak things of the world … the he may confound the strong” (1 Corinthians 1.26).  But the day and hour wherein your fraternal confidence and the will of God, which thereby was made manifest, laid upon Us this office whose dignity and burden overwhelm Us, as for Us consolation and pacification in the assurance of having you Our side and finding in you, in your knowledge, your experience, your profound wisdom garnered and matured at the price of long years of labour, the strongest and most faithful collaboration.

Your good wishes – wishes expressed for the Father of the spiritual family, on His Name Day – for which We thank and love you in the charity of Christ – Our heart gives back to the Church, Spouse of the Redeemer and Our Mother, and then to the world, to which in its present travail all Our thought and solicitude are directed.  At this very moment the world is, in so many places, seething with activities, with the birth and culminating of happenings whereof not even the most farsighted human wisdom could say whether the final result of their course will end in construction or ruin.

The Church is not the child of this world; but she is in the world, she exists in its midst, and from it she receiver her children.  She has her part in the alternations of joy and of sorrow.  And it is in the midst of the world that she suffers, strives and prays with the great Apostle Paul, making “supplications, prayers and thanksgivings for all men: for kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all piety and chastity.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.1-4)  And what is that if not a prayer for peace between nations which since the dawn of Christianity the Church has sent up before that God who would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth?

But throughout the course of history, facing these things that fall across that course, the forward march of the Church has become more difficult and arduous than in times past.  She finds herself engaged in a world of oppositions and contrary purposes, of conflicting feelings and interests, of immoderate ideas and uncurbed ambitions, of fear and of insolence.  She is surrounded by humanity that seems undecided on which side to range itself: whether to admit the decision of the sword of the noble sovereignty of right as the first principle of action and supreme arbiter of its proper destinies; whether to confide in the empire of reason or trust to that of force.  Hence the Spouse of Christ encounters obstacles in her efforts to secure for her principles and admonitions, which are dictated by her religious mission and in their development tend to the welfare of each nation as to the whole human community, that welcome which she expects, that readiness in acceptance, without which her word is no more than a voice crying in the wilderness.

But for all that, the bounded duty of Our Apostolic ministry cannot permit these external obstacles, whether fear of being misinterpreted or Our intentions and aims being misunderstood even when their object is good, to hinder Us in the salutary work of pacification, which is proper to the Church.

The Church does not permit herself to be turned aside or restrained by any private interests.  Unless invited thereunto, she dreams not of busying herself in the territorial disputes of States, nor of allowing herself to be entangled in the complexity of conflicts which easily spring therefrom.  Nevertheless, she must not, in these hours when peace suffers the greatest dangers and the most violent of passions enter into discussions, forebear to speak maternally and, should conditions permit, offer her maternal services to stay the imminent eruption of force, with all its incalculable material, spiritual and moral consequences.

In this spirit of justice and peace which, as a common Father We feel in the depth of Our heart, We considered it to be opportune, after mature deliberation at a time particularly grave in the life of the peoples, at the beginning of last May, to make known to certain Statesmen of the great European nations the anxieties that preoccupied Us regarding the situation, and Our fear lest international dissensions should become exasperated, and we should drift into conflict and bloodshed. (2) That step – which We can refer to thankfully – has in the main met with the sympathy of the Governments and, having been made public – without Our cooperation – called forth the gratitude of the nations.  We received assurances of goodwill and a desire to preserve peace as the peoples hoped.

Who more that Us would want to see a continuation of that uplifting of spirits whose beginning We perceived or would wish and hope with greater zeal for the strengthening of every good point gained?  Nor do We pretend to conceal the fact that other information was brought to Us regarding the intentions and sentiments of influential statesmen.  We are very grateful to them, for in a distant measure they have raised Our hopes that considerations of noble humanity and the consciousness of the unavoidable responsibility they have incurred before God and history, as well as a proper idea of the true interest of their peoples, have sufficient force and weight to induce the Governments to safeguard both a stable peace and the liberty and honour of the nations, to overcome the material and moral obstacles which prevent a firm and sincere understanding.  That itself has opened the way for new offers and appeals on Our part. (3)

But the destiny and welfare of the peoples are in the hands of “the Emperor who reigns in Heaven”, of the Father of Light, the source of every perfect good that is in the world,  With the destinies and happiness of the peoples He holds also in His hands the hearts of men.  And as he wills, so he does incline them, enlarge them restrain them, check or direct their will without changing their nature.  In men’s work everything is weak, as in man himself.  His thoughts are timid, his foresight uncertain, his ways unbending, and his steps feeble; he marches towards an end that is forever obscure.  But in the handiwork of God, all is powerful, like himself.  His designs have no uncertainty: his dominions extend throughout the governing of the world.  His delight is with the children of men and nothing may withstand that.  In his hands the very obstacles themselves are become the means whereby ends are shaped and human spirit and free will directed towards the sublimeness of his mercy and justice – twin stars of his universal sway.  In him rests our strongest hope.

In order to implore the divine illumination and blessing on the actions of today as well as the decisions to which they lead, last May We had already called the Catholic World around the altar of Mary, to a crusade of prayer, and placed the white legions of the children in the vanguard: children, who are the flowering lilies at the feet of the most Blessed Virgin, protected by the Holy Angels, called by Jesus himself, by him embraced, blessed and proffered as a pattern to every heir to the Kingdom of Heaven. (4)  Innocence, praying and supplicating, is a manifestation and an example.  And on this occasion We are gladdened in testifying to the gracious joy that is disclosed in Our heart at the recollection of that praiseworthy and pious stirring, that burning fervour, that holy and heart-felt emulation which sprung forth among the Faithful of the whole world in response to that appeal.

And now, as we enter the delectable month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, We direct Ourselves with increased ardour, with greater and more insistent hope towards him who is the King and focal point of our hearts, Rex et centrum omnium cordium; the refuge and sustainer of all the agonising and fearful.  May he, to whom is given all power in heaven and on earth, vouchsafe to allay the surge of a troubled and stricken world, and bring to pass among men and nations the breathing of a new spirit.  May Our appeals for peace through him find echo in the hearts of both rulers and peoples.  And in the actions decisions of those that are responsible, ay there be those practical realisations for which the yearnings and prayers of all men goodwill are breathed forth.

And with that wish on Our lips and in Our hears, as a pledge of the abundance of the divine graces, in the fullness of Our thankfulness, We accord to you the Apostolic Benediction.

(1) Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte (1851-1948).
(2) See ADSS 1.18, 19.
(3) See ADSS 1.38

(4) See ADSS 1.15.

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