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51 Venerable Brethren, forgetfulness of the law of universal charity--of that charity which alone can consolidate peace by extinguishing hatred and softening envies and dissensions--is the source of very grave evils for peaceful relations between nations.
52 But there is yet another error no less pernicious to the well-being of the nations and to the prosperity of that great human society which gathers together and embraces within its confines all races. It is the error contained in those ideas which do not hesitate to divorce civil authority from every kind of dependence upon the Supreme Being--First Source and absolute Master of man and of society--and from every restraint of a Higher Law derived from God as from its First Source. Thus they accord the civil authority an unrestricted field of action that is at the mercy of the changeful tide of human will, or of the dictates of casual historical claims, and of the interests of a few.
53 Once the authority of God and the sway of His law are denied in this way, the civil authority as an inevitable result tends to attribute to itself that absolute autonomy which belongs exclusively to the Supreme Maker. It puts itself in the place of the Almighty and elevates the State or group into the last end of life, the supreme criterion of the moral and juridical order, and therefore forbids every appeal to the principles of natural reason and of the Christian conscience. We do not, of course, fail to recognize that, fortunately, false principles do not always exercise their full influence, especially when age-old Christian traditions, on which the peoples have been nurtured, remain still deeply, even if unconsciously, rooted in their hearts.
54 None the less, one must not forget the essential insufficiency and weakness of every principle of social life which rests upon a purely human foundation, is inspired by merely earthly motives and relies for its force on the sanction of a purely external authority.
55 Where the dependence of human right upon the Divine is denied, where appeal is made only to some insecure idea of a merely human authority, and an autonomy is claimed which rests only upon a utilitarian morality, there human law itself justly forfeits in its more weighty application the moral force which is the essential condition for its acknowledgment and also for its demand of sacrifices.
56 It is quite true that power based on such weak and unsteady foundations can attain at times, under chance circumstances, material successes apt to arouse wonder in superficial observers.
57 But the moment comes when the inevitable law triumphs, which strikes down all that has been constructed upon a hidden or open disproportion between the greatness of the material and outward success, and the weakness of the inward value and of its moral foundation. Such disproportion exists whenever public authority disregards or denies the dominion of the Supreme Lawgiver, Who, as He has given rulers power, has also set and marked its bounds.
58 Indeed, as Our great predecessor, Leo XIII, wisely taught in the Encyclical Immortale Dei, it was the Creator's will that civil sovereignty should regulate social life after the dictates of an order changeless in its universal principles; should facilitate the attainment in the temporal order, by individuals, of physical, intellectual and moral perfection; and should aid them to reach their supernatural end.
59 Hence, it is the noble prerogative and function of the State to control, aid and direct the private and individual activities of national life that they converge harmoniously towards the common good. That good can neither be defined according to arbitrary ideas nor can it accept for its standard primarily the material prosperity of society, but rather it should be defined according to the harmonious development and the natural perfection of man. It is for this perfection that society is designed by the Creator as a means.
60 To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations. This can happen either when unrestricted dominion comes to be conferred on the State as having a mandate from the nation, people, or even a social order, or when the State arrogates such dominion to itself as absolute master, despotically, without any mandate whatsoever. If, in fact, the State lays claim to and directs private enterprises, these, ruled as they are by delicate and complicated internal principles which guarantee and assure the realization of their special aims, may be damaged to the detriment of the public good, by being wrenched from their natural surroundings, that is, from responsible private action.
61 Further, there would be danger lest the primary and essential cell of society, the family, with its well-being and its growth, should come to be considered from the narrow standpoint of national power, and lest it be forgotten that man and the family are by nature anterior to the State, and that the Creator has given to both of them powers and rights and has assigned them a mission and a charge that correspond to undeniable natural requirements.
62 The education of the new generation in that case would not aim at the balanced and harmonious development of the physical powers and of all the intellectual and moral qualities, but at a one-sided formation of those civic virtues that are considered necessary for attaining political success, while the virtues which give society the fragrance of nobility, humanity and reverence would be inculcated less, for fear they should detract from the pride of the citizen.
63 Before Us stand out with painful clarity the dangers We fear will accrue to this and coming generations from the neglect or nonrecognition, the minimizing and the gradual abolition of the rights peculiar to the family. Therefore We stand up as determined defenders of those rights in the full consciousness of the duty imposed on Us by Our Apostolic office. The stress of our times, as well external as internal, material and spiritual alike, and the manifold errors with their countless repercussions are tasted by none so bitterly as by that noble little cell, the family.
64 True courage and a heroism worthy in its degree of admiration and respect, are often necessary to support the hardships of life, the daily weight of misery, growing want and restrictions on a scale never before experienced, whose reason and necessity are not always apparent. Whoever has the care of souls and can search hearts, knows the hidden tears of mothers, the resigned sorrow of so many fathers, the countless bitterness of which no statistics tell nor can tell He sees with sad eyes the mass of sufferings ever on the increase; he knows how the powers of disorder and destruction stand on the alert ready to make use of all these things for their dark designs.
65 No one of good-will and vision will think of refusing the State, in the exceptional conditions of the world of today, correspondingly wider and exceptional rights to meet the popular needs. But even in such emergencies, the moral law, established by God, demands that the lawfulness of each such measure and its real necessity be scrutinized with the greatest rigor according to the standards of the common good.
66 In any case, the more burdensome the material sacrifices demanded of the individual and the family by the State, the more must the rights of conscience be to it sacred and inviolable. Goods, blood it can demand; but the soul redeemed by God, never. The charge laid by God on parents to provide for the material and spiritual good of their offspring and to procure for them a suitable training saturated with the true spirit of religion, cannot be wrested from them without grave violation of their rights.
67 Undoubtedly, that formation should aim as well at the preparation of youth to fulfill with intelligent understanding and pride those offices of a noble patriotism which give to one's earthly fatherland all due measure of love, self-devotion and service. But, on the other hand, a formation which forgot or, worse still, deliberately neglected to direct the eyes and hearts of youth to the heavenly country would be an injustice to youth, an injustice against the inalienable duties and rights of the Christian family and an excess to which a check must be opposed, in the interests even of the people and of the State itself.
68 Such an education might seem perhaps to the rulers responsible for it, a source of increased strength and vigor; it would be, in fact, the opposite, as sad experience would prove. The crime of high treason against the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (1Tm 6,15; cf. Ap 19,6) perpetrated by an education that is either indifferent or opposed to Christianity, the reversal of "Suffer the little children to come unto me" (Saint Mt 19,14), would bear most bitter fruits. On the contrary, the State which lifts anxiety from the bleeding and torn hearts of fathers and mothers and restores their rights, only promotes its own internal peace and lays foundations of a happy future for the country. The souls of children given to their parents by God and consecrated in Baptism with the royal character of Christ, are a sacred charge over which watches the jealous love of God. The same Christ Who pronounced the words "Suffer little children to come unto me" has threatened, for all His mercy and goodness, with fearful evils, those who give scandal to those so dear to His heart.
69 Now what scandal is more permanently harmful to generation after generation, than a formation of youth which is misdirected towards a goal that alienates from Christ "the Way and the Truth and the Life" and leads to open or hidden apostasy from Christ? That Christ from Whom they want to alienate the youthful generations of the present day and of the future, is the same Christ Who has received from His Eternal Father all power in Heaven and on earth. He holds in His omnipotent Hand the destiny of States, of peoples and of nations. His it is to shorten or prolong life: His to grant increase, prosperity and greatness.
70 Of all that exists on the face of the earth, the soul alone has deathless life. A system of education that should not respect the sacred precincts of the Christian family, protected by God's holy law, that should attack its foundations, bar to the young the way to Christ, to the Savior's fountains of life and joy (cf. Is 12,3), that should consider apostasy from Christ and the Church as a proof of fidelity to the people or a particular class's word: "They that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth" (Jr 17,13).
71 The idea which credits the State with unlimited authority is not simply an error harmful to the internal life of nations, to their prosperity, and to the larger and well-ordered increase in their well-being, but likewise it injures the relations between peoples, for it breaks the unity of supra-national society, robs the law of nations of its foundation and vigor, leads to violation of others' rights and impedes agreement and peaceful intercourse.
72 A disposition, in fact, of the divinely sanctioned natural order divides the human race into social groups, nations or States, which are mutually independent in organization and in the direction of their internal life. But for all that, the human race is bound together by reciprocal ties, moral and juridical, into a great commonwealth directed to the good of all nations and ruled by special laws which protect its unity and promote its prosperity.
73 Now no one can fail to see how the claim to absolute autonomy for the State stands in open opposition to this natural way that is inherent in man--nay, denies it utterly--and therefore leaves the stability of international relations at the mercy of the will of rulers, while it destroys the possibility of true union and fruitful collaboration directed to the general good.
74 So, Venerable Brethren, it is indispensable for the existence of harmonious and lasting contacts and of fruitful relations, that the peoples recognize and observe these principles of international natural law which regulate their normal development and activity. Such principles demand respect for corresponding rights to independence, to life and to the possibility of continuous development in the paths of civilization; they demand, further, fidelity to compacts agreed upon and sanctioned in conformity with the principles of the law of nations.
75 The indispensable presupposition, without doubt, of all peaceful intercourse between nations, and the very soul of the juridical relations in force among them, is mutual trust: the expectation and conviction that each party will respect its plighted word; the certainty that both sides are convinced that "better is wisdom, than weapons of war" (Qo 9,18), and are ready to enter into discussion and to avoid recourse to force or to threats of force in case of delays, hindrances, changes or disputes, because all these things can be the result not of bad will, but of changed circumstances and of genuine interests in conflict.
76 But on the other hand, to tear the law of nations from its anchor in Divine law, to base it on the autonomous will of States, is to dethrone that very law and deprive it of its noblest and strongest qualities. Thus it would stand abandoned to the fatal drive of private interest and collective selfishness exclusively intent on the assertion of its own rights and ignoring those of others.
77 Now, it is true that with the passage of time and the substantial change of circumstances, which were not and perhaps could not have been foreseen in the making of a treaty, such a treaty or some of its clauses can in fact become, or at least seem to become unjust, impracticable or too burdensome for one of the parties. It is obvious that should such be the case, recourse should be had in good time to a frank discussion with a view to modifying the treaty or making another in its stead. But to consider treaties on principle as ephemeral and tacitly to assume the authority of rescinding them unilaterally when they are no longer to one's advantage, would be to abolish all mutual trust among States. In this way, natural order would be destroyed and there would be seen dug between different peoples and nations trenches of division impossible to refill.
78 Today, Venerable Brethren, all men are looking with terror into the abyss to which they have been brought by the errors and principles which We have mentioned, and by their practical consequences. Gone are the proud illusions of limitless progress. Should any still fail to grasp this fact, the tragic situation of today would rouse them with the prophet's cry: "Hear, ye deaf and ye blind, behold" (Is 42,18). What used to appear on the outside as order, was nothing but an invasion of disorder: confusion in the principles of moral life. These principles, once divorced from the majesty of the Divine law, have tainted every field of human activity.
79 But let us leave the past and turn our eyes towards that future which, according to the promises of the powerful ones of this world, is to consist, once the bloody conflicts of today have ceased, in a new order founded on justice and on prosperity. Will that future be really different; above all, will it be better? Will treaties of peace, will the new international order at the end of this war be animated by justice and by equity towards all, by that spirit which frees and pacifies? Or will there be a lamentable repetition of ancient and of recent errors?
80 To hope for a decisive change exclusively from the shock of war and its final issue is idle, as experience shows. The hour of victory is an hour of external triumph for the party to whom victory falls, but it is in equal measure the hour of temptation. In this hour the angel of justice strives with the demons of violence; the heart of the victor all to easily is hardened; moderation and farseeing wisdom appear to him weakness; the excited passions of the people, often inflamed by the sacrifices and sufferings they have borne, obscure the vision even of responsible persons and make them inattentive to the warning voice of humanity and equity, which is overwhelmed or drowned in the inhuman cry. "Vae victis, woe to the conquered." There is danger lest settlements and decision born in such conditions be nothing else than injustice under the cloak of justice.
81 No, Venerable Brethren, safety does not come to peoples from external means, from the sword which can impose conditions of peace but does not create peace. Forces that are to renew the face of the earth should proceed from within, from the spirit.
82 Once the bitterness and the cruel strifes of the present have ceased, the new order of the world, of national and international life, must rest no longer on the quicksands of changeable and ephemeral standards that depend only on the selfish interests of groups and individuals. No, they must rest on the unshakable foundation, on the solid rock of natural law and of Divine Revelation. There the human legislator must attain to that balance, that keen sense of moral responsibility, without which it is easy to mistake the boundary between the legitimate use and the abuse of power. Thus only will his decisions have internal consistency, noble dignity and religious sanction, and be immune from selfishness and passion.
83 For true though it is that the evils from which mankind suffers today come in part from economic instability and from the struggle of interests regarding a more equal distribution of the goods which God has given man as a means of sustenance and progress, it is not less true that their root is deeper and more intrinsic, belonging to the sphere of religious belief and moral convictions which have been perverted by the progressive alienation of the peoples from that unity of doctrine, faith, customs and morals which once was promoted by the tireless and beneficent work of the Church. If it is to have any effect, the reeducation of mankind must be, above all things, spiritual and religious. Hence, it must proceed from Christ as from its indispensable foundation; must be actuated by justice and crowned by charity.
84 The accomplishment of this task of regeneration, by adapting her means to the altered conditions of the times and to the new needs of the human race, is an essential and maternal office of the Church. Committed to her by her Divine Founder, the preaching of the Gospel, by which is inculcated to men truth, justice and charity and the endeavor to implant its precepts solidly in mind and conscience, is the most noble and most fruitable work for peace. That mission would seem as if it ought to discourage by its very grandeur the hearts of those who make up the Church Militant. But that cooperation in the spread of the Kingdom of God which in every century is effected in different ways, with varying instruments, with manifold hard struggles, is a command incumbent on everyone who has been snatched by Divine Grace from the slavery of Satan and called in Baptism to citizenship of the Kingdom of God.
85 And if belonging to it, living according to its spirit, laboring for its increase and placing its benefits at the disposition of that portion of mankind also which as yet has no part in them, means in our days having to face obstacles and oppositions as vast and deep and minutely organized as never before, that does not dispense a man from the frank, bold profession of our Faith. Rather, it spurs one to stand fast in the conflict even at the price of the greatest sacrifices. Whoever lives by the spirit of Christ refuses to let himself be beaten down by the difficulties which oppose him, but on the contrary feels himself impelled to work with all his strength and with the fullest confidence in God. He does not draw back before the straits and the necessities of the moment but faces their severity ready to give aid with that love which flees no sacrifice, is stronger than death, and will not be quenched by the rushing waters of tribulation.
86 It gives Us, Venerable Brethren, an inward strength, a heavenly joy, for which We daily render to God Our deep and humble thanks, to see in every region of the Catholic world evident signs of a spirit which boldly faces the gigantic tasks of our age, which with generous decision is intent on uniting in fruitful harmony the first and essential duty of individual sanctification, and apostolic activity for the spread of the Kingdom of God. From the movement of the Eucharistic Congresses furthered with loving care by Our predecessors and from the collaboration of the laity formed in Catholic Action towards a deep realization of their noble mission, flow forth fountains of grace and reserves of strength, which could hardly be sufficiently prized in the present time, when threats are more numerous, needs multiply and the conflict between Christianity and anti-Christianism grows intense.
87 At a moment when one is forced to note with sorrow the disproportion between the number of priests and the calls upon them, when one sees that even today the words of Our Savior apply: "The harvest indeed in great, but the laborers are few" (Saint Mt 9,37 Lc 10,2), the collaboration of the laity in the Apostolate of the Hierarchy, a collaboration indeed given by many and animated with ardent zeal and generous self-devotion, stands out as a precious aid to the work of priests and shows possibilities of development which justify the brightest hopes. The prayer of the Church to the Lord of the Harvest that he send workers into his vineyard (cf. Saint Mt 9,37 Lc 10,2) has been granted to a degree proportionate to the present needs, and in a manner which supplements and completes the powers, often obstructed and inadequate, of the priestly apostolate. Numbers of fervent men and women of youth obedient to the voice of the Supreme Pastor and to the directions of their bishops, consecrate themselves with the full ardor of their souls to the works of the apostolate in order to bring back to Christ the masses of peoples who have been separated from Him.
88 To them in this moment so critical for the Church and for mankind go out Our paternal greeting, Our deepfelt gratitude, Our confident hope. These have truly placed their lives and their work beneath the standard of Christ the King; and they can say with the Psalmist: "I speak my words to the King" (Ps 44,1). "Thy Kingdom come" is not simply the burning desire of their prayer; it is besides, the guide of their activity.
89 This collaboration of the laity with the priesthood in all classes, categories and groups reveals precious industry and to the laity is entrusted a mission than which noble and loyal hearts could desire none higher nor more consoling. This apostolic work, carried out according to the mind of the Church, consecrates the layman as a kind of "Minister to Christ" in the sense which Saint Augustine explains as follows: "When, Brethren, you hear Our Lord saying: where I am there too will My servant be, do not think solely of good bishops and clerics." You too in your way minister to Christ by a good life, by almsgiving, by preaching His Name and teaching to whom you can. Thus every father should recognize that it is under this title that he owes paternal affection to his family. Let it be for the sake of Christ and for life everlasting, that he admonishes all his household, teaches, exhorts, reproves, shows kindness, corrects; and thus in his own home he will fulfill an ecclesiastical and in a way an episcopal office ministering to Christ, that he may be for ever with Him" (on The Gospel according to Saint John, tract 51, n. 13).
90 In promoting this participation by the laity in the apostolate, which is so important in our times, the family has a special mission, for it is the spirit of the family that exercises the most powerful influence on that of the rising generation. As long as the sacred flame of the Faith burns on the domestic hearth, and the parents forge and fashion the lives of their children in accordance with this Faith, youth will be ever ready to acknowledge the royal prerogatives of the Redeemer, and to oppose those who wish to exclude Him from society or wrongly to usurp His rights.
91 When churches are closed, when the Image of the Crucified is taken from the schools, the family remains the providential and, in a certain sense, impregnable refuge of Christian life. And We give thanks to God as We see that numberless families accomplish this, their mission, with a fidelity undismayed by combat or by sacrifice. A great host of young men and women, even in those regions where faith in Christ means suffering and persecution, remain firm around the Throne of the Redeemer with a quiet, steady determination that recalls the most glorious days of the Church's struggles.
92 What torrents of benefits would be showered on the world; what light, order, what peace would accrue to social life; what unique and precious energies would contribute towards the betterment of mankind, if men would everywhere concede to the Church, teacher of justice and love, that liberty of action to which, in virtue of the Divine Mandate, she has a sacred and indisputable right! What calamities could be averted, what happiness and tranquillity assured, if the social and international forces working to establish peace would let themselves be permeated by the deep lessons of the Gospel of Love in their struggle against individual or collective egoism!
93 There is no opposition between the laws that govern the life of faithful Christians and the postulates of a genuine humane humanitarianism, but rather unity and mutual support. In the interests of suffering mankind, shaken to the depths both materially and spiritually, We have no more ardent desire than this: that the present difficulties may open the eyes of many to see Our Lord Jesus Christ and the mission of His Church on this earth in their true light, and that all those who are in power may decide to allow the Church a free course to work for the formation of the rising generation according to the principles of justice and peace.
94 This work of pacification presupposes that obstacles are not put to the exercise of the mission which God has entrusted to His Church; that the field of this activity is not restricted, and that the masses, and especially youth, are not withdrawn from her beneficent influence.
95 Accordingly We, as representatives on earth of Him Who was proclaimed by the Prophet "Prince of Peace" (Is 9,6) appeal to the rulers of the peoples, and to those who can in any way influence public life, to let the Church have full liberty to fulfill her role as educator by teaching men truth, by inculcating justice and inflaming hearts with the Divine Love of Christ.
96 While the Church cannot renounce the exercise of this, her mission, which has for its final end to realize here below the Divine plan and to "re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth" (Ep 1,10) her aid, nonetheless, is shown to be indispensable as never before, now that sad experience teaches that external means and human provisions and political expedients of themselves bring no efficacious healing to the ills which affect mankind.
97 Taught precisely by the sad failure of human expedients to stave off the tempest that threatens to sweep civilization away, many turn their gaze with renewed hope to the Church, the rock of truth and of charity, to that Chair of Peter from which, they feel, can be restored to mankind that unity of religious teaching and of the moral code which of old gave consistency to pacific international relations.
98 Unity, towards which, so many, answerable for the destiny of nations, look with regretful yearning as they experience from day to day the vanity of the very means in which once they had placed their trust! Unity, the desired of those many legions of Our sons who daily call upon "The God of Peace and of love" (2Co 13,11). Unity, the hope of so many noble minds separated from Us, who yet in their hunger and thirst for justice and peace turn their eyes to the See of Peter and from it await guidance and counsel!
99 These last are recognizing in the Catholic Church principles of belief and life that have stood the test of 2,000 years; the strong cohesion of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, which in union with the Successor of Peter spends itself in enlightening minds with the teaching of the Gospel, in guiding and sanctifying men, and which is generous in its material condescension towards all, but firm when, even at the cost of torments or martyrdom, it has to say: "Non licet; it is not allowed"!
100 And yet, Venerable Brethren, the teaching of Christ, which alone can furnish man with such solid bases of belief as will greatly enlarge his vision, and divinely dilate his heart and supply an efficacious remedy to the very grave difficulties of today--this and the activity of the Church in teaching and spreading that Doctrine, and in forming and modeling men's minds by its precepts, are at times an object of suspicion, as if they shook the foundations of civil authority or usurped its rights.
101 Against such suspicions We solemnly declare with Apostolic sincerity that--without prejudice to the declarations regarding the power of Christ and of His Church made by Our predecessor, Pius XI, of venerable memory, in his Encyclical Quas Primas of December 11, 1925--any such aims are entirely alien to that same Church, which spreads it maternal arms towards this world not to dominate but to serve. She does not claim to take the place of other legitimate authorities in their proper spheres, but offers them her help after the example and in the spirit of her Divine Founder Who "went about doing good" (Acts 10. 38).
102 The Church preaches and inculcates obedience and respect for earthly authority which derives from God its whole origin and holds to the teaching of her Divine Master Who said: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Saint Mt 22,21); she has no desire to usurp, and sings in the liturgy: "He takes away no earthly realms who gives us the celestial" (hymn for Feast of Epiphany). She does not suppress human energies but lifts them up to all that is noble and generous and forms characters which do not compromise with conscience. Nor has she who civilizes the nations ever retarded the civil progress of mankind, at which on the contrary she is pleased and glad with a mother's pride. The end of her activity was admirably expressed by the Angels over the cradle of the Word Incarnate, when they sang of glory to God and announced peace to men of good will: "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will" (Saint Lc 2,14).
103 This peace, which the world cannot give, has been left as a heritage to His disciples by the Divine Redeemer Himself: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (Saint Jn 14,27); and thus following the sublime teaching of Christ, summed up by Himself in the twofold precept of love of God and of the neighbor, millions of souls have reached, are reaching and shall reach peace. History, wisely called by a great Roman "The Teacher of Life," has proved for close on two thousand years how true is the word of Scripture that he will not have peace who resists God (cf. ). For Christ alone is the "Corner Stone" (Ep 2,20) on which man and society can find stability and salvation.
104 On this Corner Stone the Church is built, and hence against her the adversary can never prevail: "The gates of hell shall not prevail" (Saint Mt 16,18), nor can they ever weaken her! Nay, rather, internal and external struggles tend to augment the force and multiply the laurels of her glorious victories.
105 On the other hand, any other building which has not been founded solidly on the teaching of Christ rests on shifting sands and is destined to perish miserably (cf. Saint Mt 7,26-27).
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