Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ADSS 1.224 Pius XII to Dino Alfieri: relations between Holy See and Italy

VADSS 1.224 Pius XII to Dino Alfieri, Italian Ambassador to the Holy See

Reference: ASS, XXXI (1939), 704-06.

Location and date: 07.12.1939

Summary statement: Allusion to the Lateran Treaty.  Gratitude for the good relations between the Holy See and Italy. Expresses the hope that Italy will stay out of the war.

Language: Italian


The solemn presentation of the Credentials, with which His Majesty the King Emperor accredits Your Excellency to Us as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (1), following many illustrious personages in this high mission, whose eminent qualities and fruitful activity will always be gratefully remembered here, takes place at a historical moment of singular importance, the various aspects of which have just been eloquently pointed out by Your Excellency.

Above all other considerations, We must recall that this year the tenth anniversary of the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty takes place, which, in the conscience of the Italian people, symbolises and brought the providential peace anxiously awaited through many long years of grievous dissension, which confused the souls and shackled the energy of many of the best sons of this glorious and privileged Italian nation, while in the conscience of the Catholic world the same Treaty meant the new, solemn and open acknowledgement of the read and actual sovereignty and independence of the Supreme Head of the Church.

Therefore Our soul receives with gratitude the vow, or rather the joyful certainty, expressed by Your Excellency, that the relations of cordial and confident understanding between Church and State in Italy, founded on the Lateran accord of peace, will continue to be carried out in a spirit of faithful observance, and We, for our part, shall give to these high intentions of your August Sovereign and of his Government all that benevolent support that the nobility of such aim and its beneficial effect for the peaceful growth and prosperity of the Italian people deserve.

In this present difficult hour, when the Rulers of States, in the sphere of their internal and external activity, are confronted by tasks which impose extraordinary burdens on their energies for decision and action, when the fulfilment of such high duties of government, thorough the weight of the exceptional sacrifices bound indissolubly to them, makes the complete trust and the loyal consent of the masses of people more than ever necessary, the latter, now aw always, being made up of those who carry the cross along the via dolorosa which mankind has to tread again; in these circumstances as We repat, the harmony between the two Powers and the internal peace, which is a fruit springing from it, are the best remedy to lighten the difficulties and at the same time the finest gift that the State can make to itself and to its citizens.

At this moment, when Your Excellency starts his distinguished mission, the work of the Apostolic See in favour of peace and understanding amongst nations also appears not only necessary and urgent but also difficult and full of thorns.  Difficult above all because the fundamental concept of justice and love, which fosters not only the happiness of the individual, but also the nobility and the growth of social relations, through a wrong process of thought and action which makes the divine human, and the human divine, has fallen, in many respects, into oblivious and contempt.  This distorted development, amounting to subversion of the principles of justice and moral duties, has tended and designed to substitute the Christian concept of life, community and State with disruptive and destructive doctrines which believe that the progress of civilisation and of mankind consists in freedom from the bounds of natural law and of divine revelation, whose resplendent light shines on the world form this sacred city of Rome.

Each one of these errors, as generally every error, lasts for a certain time, during which it increases and decreases; it is at one moment at its height and then suddenly falls apart.  There are two phases: the first when the intoxicating poison of the alluring doctrines overwhelms and infatuates the masses and makes them fall into its power, and the other, when the bitter fruits become ripe and the eyes of the masses, or at least of the wiser and more thoughtful of them, look at them terrified, remembering how deceptive were the plans and the promises with which they were drawn into error.  How many eyes, once closed, are no opening again!

But We are specially comforted by the understanding that Your Excellency has nobly expressed regarding the fundamental thought of Our recent Encyclical Letter for the peaceful and brotherly union of mankind and for peace in justice, and We are led to hope that Our further endeavours for such a high aim will always find response in the courageous, strong and industrious Italian people who by the wisdom of their rulers and their inner impulse have, up to now, been saved from the danger of being drawn into war, and have thus been placed in the best position to co-operate for the coming and establishment of true peace, founded on justice and humanity.

While from the bottom of Our heart We implore the Omnipotent One to assist Italy and its Rulers with His light and with His protection, We impart with all Our soul on His Majesty the King Emperor and on the Royal Family, on His Excellency the head of Government, on the entire Italian people so near and dear to Us, and in particular on Your Excellency Our Apostolic Benediction.


(1) Eduardo Dino Alfieri (1886-1966), Italian Ambassador to the Holy See 07.12.1939 to 31.05.1940. He succeeded Bonifacio Pignatti (1877-1957), ambassador 1935-39.

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