Broadcast of Pope Pius XII

Christmas, 1942

Beloved children throughout the world!

   As the Feast of Christmas recurs year by year the message of the crib of Bethlehem sounds in Christian ears with accents of a holy joy which is ever new and ever finds a tender echo in Christian hearts; it is the message of Jesus, light amidst the darkness. To a world plunged in the gloom of tragic error it brings the light of Heavenly truth; to a humanity enduring the pangs of a deep and bitter sorrow it gives abundance of joyful hope; to the children of Adam shackled in the bonds of sin it brings assurance of deliverance; to those countless hosts of suffering and afflicted ones who see their happiness lost and their energies broken in the storm of hatred and strife now raging, it gives promise of mercy, love, and peace.

  And the bells which ring out this message in every continent do more than recall a Divine gift bestowed upon humanity at the beginning of the Christian era; they also proclaim a consoling and present reality, a reality as eternally young as it is ever vital and life-giving: the reality of the true light which enlightens every man that comes into this world, the light which will never fade. The Eternal Word, Who is the way, the truth, and the life, began His mission of teaching, saving, and redeeming the human race by being born in the squalor of a cave, thus ennobling poverty and sanctifying it. He thus uttered and consecrated a message which is still today the word of eternal life, which provides the answer to those torturing questions that never have been and never will be solved by ephemeral theories or by human means; questions which now in poignant form confront the minds and hearts of an embittered and angered humanity, and call urgently for a reply.

  'I have compassion on the multitude'; such was the motto of Jesus; and for Us, too, it is a sacred charge urging its claim at all times and in every situation of mankind. The Church would be untrue to herself, she would have ceased to be a mother, if she were deaf to the cries of suffering children which reach her ears from every class of the human family. Between the various concrete forms by which individual peoples and States are endeavoring to solve the gigantic problems of internal order and international collaboration, she does not intend to discriminate, so long as such forms respect the law of God. Nevertheless the Church, since she is 'the pillar and ground of truth,' [1 Tim. iii. 15] since she has been appointed by the will of God and by the mandate of Christ to be guardian of the natural and the supernatural order, cannot forgo her right to proclaim fundamental and immutable laws to her own children and to the whole world, protecting them against all perversion, obscurity, corruption, misinterpretation, and error. This function of the Church is the more necessary because upon the observance of these laws, and not merely upon the efforts of any upright and courageous will, depends the final stability of that new national and international order which is ardently desired by all peoples. Of these peoples We well know the courage and endurance; We know also their hardships and their sufferings; and to all of them in this hour of their indescribable trial and adversity, to all without exception, We feel Ourself attached by the bonds of a heartfelt, impartial, and unfailing love, and by the boundless desire to bring them every relief and help that is in Our power.


   In Our last Christmas Message [The Pope Speaks to the World, Christmas 1941. C.T.S. 3d] We expounded the principles suggested by Christian thought for the establishment of intercourse and collaboration between nations conformably with the Divine law. We propose today, assured of the good will and interest of all sincere minds, to dwell with particular care and with equal impartiality upon the fundamental laws governing the internal order of States and peoples. International relations and national order are intimately connected, for the balance and concord of one nation with another depends upon the balance of each nation in itself and upon the stage of internal development which it has reached in the material, social, and intellectual spheres. No State, in fact, can present a firmly and consistently peaceful front to its neighbors without an internally peaceful condition which will inspire confidence. Therefore it is only by striving for this complete peace, peace within and peace without, that it will be possible to deliver peoples from the cruel nightmare of war, to diminish and gradually to eliminate the material and psychological factors which may give rise to new conflicts and upheavals.


  All social life deserving of the name has its origin in the desire for peace and aims at attaining it; it aims at that orderly and tranquil common life in which St. Thomas, echoing the well known definition of St. Augustine, [1 S. Th., II-II, q. 29. a. 1 ad 1; S. Aug., De civitate Dei, 1. 19. c. 13, n. 1] sees the essence of peace. Two essential elements, therefore, are necessary for social life: an orderly common life, and a common life which is tranquil.


  Order, the basis of social life among men-----among intelligent and responsible beings, that is, who pursue an end appropriate to their nature-----is not a mere extrinsic connection between parts numerically distinct; it tends rather towards an ever more perfect achievement of internal unity, a unity, however, which does not exclude differences grounded in reality and sanctioned by the will of the Creator and by supernatural laws.

  Never has it been so capitally important to understand clearly the true foundations of all social life as in these days when humanity, diseased by the poison of social errors and perversions and tossed by a fever of conflicting desires, doctrines, and aims, has become the unhappy prey of a disorder created by itself, and is experiencing the disruptive effects of false social theories that neglect and contravene the laws of God. Just as darkness with all its oppressive horrors cannot be dispelled by a will-o'-the-wisp but only by the light, so disorder can be banished only by order, and by an order that is not fictitious but real. Only in one way can we hope for salvation, renewal, and true progress, and that is through the return of numerous and influential sections of mankind to a true conception of society, a return which will require an extraordinary grace of God and firm and self-sacrificing resolution on the part of men of good will and far-sighted vision. If such men are brought to perceive and appreciate the fascinating beauty of just social principles, they will be able by their influence to spread among the masses a conviction of the truly Divine and spiritual origin of social life; and they will thus prepare the way for the re-awakening, the development, and the consolidation of those ethical conceptions without which the proudest achievement in the social sphere will be nothing but a Babel; its citizens may have walls in common, but they will speak different and conflicting tongues.

God the first cause and ultimate ground of individual and social life

   If we would understand social life we must raise our thoughts to God, the First Cause and ultimate ground, to God, the Creator of the first married pair, which is the source from which all society-----the family, the nation, and the association of nations-----takes its rise. Social life is a reflection, however imperfect, of its exemplary cause, God Three in One, Who by the mystery of the Incarnation redeemed and elevated human nature; and therefore, viewed in the light of reason and revelation, the ideal and purpose of society possess an absolute character transcending all the vicissitudes of time; they have also a magnetic power which, far from being deadened and extinguished by disappointment, error, and failure, irresistibly draws noble and pious minds again to devote renewed energy, new understanding, new studies, means, and methods, to the accomplishment of an enterprise which in other times and in other circumstances has been attempted in vain.

The development and perfection of the human person

The original and essential purpose of social life is to preserve, develop, and perfect the human person, by facilitating the due fulfillment and realization of the religious and cultural laws and values which the Creator has assigned to every man and to the human race, both as a whole and in its natural groupings.

    A social doctrine or structure which denies or neglects the internal and essential link connecting God with all human concerns is an aberration; those who follow such a doctrine build up with one hand but with the other they are providing the means which sooner or later will undermine and destroy the structure. If they fail to acknowledge the respect due to the human person and to the life of the human person, if they give human personality no place in the social system, in legislative and executive activity, then, far from benefiting society, they damage it; far from fostering and enlivening the social sense and realizing its aspirations and hopes, they deprive it of all intrinsic value, making it a mere catch-phrase which in ever-increasing sections of the community is being resolutely and frankly repudiated.

    If social life implies internal unity it does not on that account exclude the differences between men which are grounded in reality and in nature. But so long as we hold fast to God as the supreme controller of all human concerns, both likenesses and differences find their proper place in the absolute order of being, of values, and consequently also of morality. If that foundation is attacked, however, ominous fissures appear in the structure: the various spheres of culture become dissociated from one another; outlines, boundaries, and values become blurred and uncertain; with the result that the decision between opposing policies comes to depend, according to the prevailing fashion, upon merely external factors, and often even upon blind instinct.

During the past decades a damaging economic policy subordinated the whole of civil life to the profit motive; today a conception rules which is no less detrimental to society, regarding as it does everything and everybody from the standpoint of utility to the State, to the exclusion of all ethical and religious considerations. In either case we have a travesty and a misconception pregnant with incalculable consequences for social life, which is never nearer to losing its noblest prerogatives than when under the illusion that it can with impunity repudiate or neglect God, the eternal source of its dignity.

  Reason, enlightened by faith, assigns to each person and to each particular association in the social organism a definite and noble place; above all it tells us that the purpose of the whole of the State's activity, political and economic, is the permanent realization of the common good: that is to say, the provision of those external conditions which are needful to citizens as a whole for the development of their qualities and the fulfillment of their duties in every sphere of life. material, intellectual, and religious-----in the supposition, however, that the powers and energies of the family and of other organisms which hold natural precedence over the State are insufficient, and also subject to the fact that God, in His will for the salvation of men, has instituted another universal society, the Church, for the benefit of the human person and for the realization of his religious ends.

In a social conception inspired and sanctioned by religious thought, economic and cultural activities are seen as a vast and admirable forge of energy, richly various and harmoniously coherent, in which the similarity of men as beings endowed with reason and their functional diversity receive just acknowledgment and find adequate expression. In any other conception labor is oppressed and the worker is degraded.

The legal structure of society and its purpose

   If social life, such as God wills it, is to attain its end it needs a legal structure for its support, defense, and. protection. The function of this structure is not to dominate, but to serve; to encourage the development and vital growth of society in the abundant variety of its aims, promoting the full achievement of private enterprise in harmonious collaboration, and protecting it by suitable and legitimate means against anything detrimental to its full expansion. Such structure, in order to secure the balance, the security, and the concord of society, has also the right of coercion against those who cannot in any other way be restrained within the honorable discipline of social life; but no authority worthy of the name can fail to feel, in the just exercise of this right, an anxious sense of responsibility in the sight of the Eternal Judge, before whose tribunal any unjust sentence, and especially any reversal of Divinely established principles, will receive inevitable punishment and condemnation.

  The ultimate, deep-rooted, lapidary principles which lie at the foundation of society cannot be abolished by any effort of human ingenuity; they may be denied, ignored, disregarded, or disobeyed, but they can never be deprived of their juridical validity. Admittedly conditions change with the passage of time, but there is never a complete gap, never entire discontinuity, between the law of yesterday and the law of today, between the disappearance of old forms of government and the introduction of new constitutions. Whatever happens, whatever change or transformation may take place, the purpose of all social life remains the same, ever sacred, ever obligatory: the development of the personal values of man, who is made in the image of God; whatever legislator or authority he may obey, every member of the human family remains bound to secure his immutable ends. He has therefore always the inalienable right-----a right which no opposition can destroy and which all, friends and enemies alike, are bound to acknowledge-----to a constitution and an administration of justice inspired by the conviction and understanding that it is their essential duty to serve the common good.

  The legal structure has also the noble and arduous task of securing harmonious relations between individual citizens, between various associations within the State, and between their members. Legislators will accomplish this task successfully if they avoid dangerous theories and practices which are detrimental to the community and to its cohesion, and which owe their origin and wide diffusion to false postulates. Among these is to be counted a juridical positivism which invests purely human laws with a majesty to which they have no title, opening the way to a fatal dissociation of law from morality. Likewise to be banned is the theory which claims for a particular nation, or race, or class, a juridical instinct against whose law and command there is no appeal. Finally, all those theories are to be shunned which, though in themselves divergent and deriving from opposed ideologies, have this in common that they regard the State, or a group representing it. as an absolute and supreme entity exempt from all control and criticism, even when its theoretical and practical postulates result in open and clashing contradiction with essential data of the human and Christian conscience.

   Those who clearly perceive the vital connection between genuine social order and a genuine juridical structure, those who appreciate that interior unity in multiplicity depends upon the primacy of the spiritual, upon respect for human personality both in oneself and in others, upon a true love for society, and upon attachment to the ends for which God has ordained it, cannot wonder at the unhappy results of juridical conceptions which have departed from the royal road of truth to follow the slippery paths of materialism; and they must immediately see how urgently necessary it is to return to a conception of society which is spiritual and ethical, earnest and profound, instinct with the warmth of a true humanity, lit by the light of Christian faith which reveals in the juridical structure a reflection of the social order as God has willed it, a luminous product of the spirit of man, which in its turn is an image of the spirit of God.

   This organic conception of society, the only vital conception, combines a noble humanism with the genuine Christian spirit, and it bears the inscription from Holy Writ which St. Thomas has explained [S. Th. II-II, q. 29. 3. 3.]: 'The work of justice shall be peace'; a text applicable to the life of a people whether it be considered in itself or in its relations with other nations. In this view love and justice are not contrasted as alternatives; they are united in a fruitful synthesis. Both radiate from the spirit of God, both have their place in the program which defends the dignity of man; they complement, help, support, and animate each other: while justice prepares the way for love, love softens the rigor of justice and ennobles it; both raise up human life to an atmosphere in which, despite the failings, the obstacles, and the harshness which earthly life presents, a brotherly intercourse becomes possible. But if the evil spirit of materialism gains the mastery, if the rough hands of power and tyranny are suffered to guide events, you will then see daily signs of the disintegration of human fellowship, and love and justice will disappear-----presaging the catastrophes which must come upon a society that has apostatized from God.


  The second fundamental element of the peace towards which every human society almost instinctively tends, is tranquility. Tranquility has nothing in common with a hard and childishly obstinate contentment with the state of things as they are; nor with a reluctance, begotten of a lazy and selfish spirit, to confront the problems and questions to which the progress of time and the succession of generations give rise, and which urgently demand an immediate solution. For the Christian, conscious of his responsibility to even the least of his brethren, there can be no such false tranquillity; he does not run away, he throws himself into the fray; he is all for action, action against apathy or desertion in the great spiritual war in which the structure, indeed the very soul, of the society of the future is at stake.

Tranquility and action

  Tranquility, understood in the sense of St. Thomas, is not opposed to intense activity; for one who fully appreciates the beauty and the necessity of a spiritual foundation for society, for one who understands how noble is its ideal, tranquility and action are associated in perfect harmony. And this leads Us to address a word of special affection and fatherly good will to you, young people, who are inclined to turn your backs upon the past and to place all your hopes and aspirations in the future: Enthusiasm and courage in themselves are not enough; they must be placed at the service of a good and untarnished cause. Feverish activity and anxious labor must all come to nothing, unless you find stability in God and in His eternal law. You must be inspired by the conviction of fighting for the truth, of devoting to that cause all your own desires and energies, all your yearnings and your sacrifices; you must be conscious of fighting for the eternal laws of God, for the dignity of the human person and for the attainment of the ends which the human person is destined to achieve. It is in the eternally active tranquillity of God that mature age and youth will both find safe anchorage and so effect the truly Christian co-ordination of their differences of temperament and of activity. There, so long as driving power and the curb of restraint are coupled together, the natural difference between the older and the younger generation can give rise to no danger; on the contrary their collaboration will contribute powerfully to the implementing of God's eternal laws throughout the changing course of time and circumstances.

The World of Labor

   There is one section of the community, for the past hundred years the scene of violent agitation and conflict, in which tranquility, at any rate to all appearance, reigns today; We mean the vast and ever growing world of labor, the great army of workers, wage-earners, and dependents. Viewed from the standpoint of present conditions with their war-time needs, this state of peace may be said to be an objective necessity; but if we consider it from the point of view of justice, from the point of view of an orderly and legitimate labor movement, we cannot but conclude that such tranquility will continue to be no more than apparent until that movement achieves its purpose.

  Guided always by religious motives, the Church has condemned the various systems of Marxist socialism, and she condemns them still today, for it is her permanent duty and right to save men from currents of thought and from influences which jeopardize their eternal salvation. But the Church cannot fail to know and to perceive that the worker, in his efforts to improve his condition, finds himself confronted by a system which, far from being conformable with nature, is contrary to the order established by God and to the purpose which He has assigned earthly goods. The methods used may have been, and may still be wrong, dangerous, and deserving of condemnation; but no one, least of all a priest or a Christian, can possibly remain deaf to the cry that rises out of the depths, calling for justice and for a spirit of brotherhood in a world which a just God has made. To be silent in such circumstances would be wrong and inexcusable in the sight of God; it would be contrary to the inspired preaching of the Apostle, who, while insisting that we must be resolutely opposed to error, knows also that we must be full of sympathy with those who go astray, and full of understanding for their aspirations, hopes, and motives.

 When God blessed our first parents He said to them: 'Increase and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.' [Gen. i. 28] And to the first father of a human family He said later: 'In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.' [Gen. iii. 19] Therefore the dignity of the human person normally demands the right to the use of earthly goods as the natural foundation for a livelihood; and to that right corresponds the fundamental obligation to grant private property, as far as possible, to all. The positive laws regulating private property may change and may grant a more or less restricted use of it; but if such legal provisions are to contribute to the peaceful state of the community, they must save the worker, who is or will be the father of a family, from being condemned to an economic dependence or slavery irreconcilable with his rights as a person.

 Whether this slavery arises from the tyranny of private capital or from the power of the State makes no difference to its effect; indeed under the oppression of a State which controls everything and regulates the whole of public and private life, which encroaches even upon the sphere of thought, conviction, and conscience, this lack of freedom nay have consequences even more disastrous, as experience shows.


   Anyone who studies, in the light of reason and faith, the foundations and the purposes of social life which We have briefly outlined, anyone who considers their pure and sublime moral value and their beneficent results in every sphere of life, cannot but be sensible of the potent principles of order and tranquillity which could be given, or rather restored, to a disordered world by efforts inspired by high ideals, steadfast against obstruction, and successful in breaking down intellectual and juridical barriers raised by prejudice, error, and indifference, and by a long process of secularization in thought, sentiment, and action, which has withdrawn the city of this earth from the light and influence of the city of God.

  Now, more than ever before, is the time for reconstruction, the time to rouse the world's conscience from the lethargy which the poison of widespread error has cast upon it. The present material and moral breakdown, the recognition that all purely human systems are frail and incoherent, is bringing disillusionment even to those who, in days when all was apparently well, did not feel either in themselves or in society the need of any contact with the eternal. nor consider the lack of such contact to be an essential defect in their systems.

   A truth which the Christian already clearly perceived, and which in the firm conviction of his faith he grieved to see ignored by others, is now being made manifest in the frightful catastrophe of these times, a catastrophe which even to the lukewarm, to the indifferent, and to the thoughtless has all the solemn appearance of a general judgment; it is the ancient truth uttered by the Prophet, and tragically proved again and again as it has thundered down the ages from nation to nation: 'All that forsake thee shall be confounded; they that depart from thee shall be written in the earth; because they have forsaken the Lord, the vein of living waters.' [Jer. xvii. 13]

   But action, not regrets, is the order of the day; it is no time for regretting what is past but rather for reshaping the structure which is to benefit the society of tomorrow. Now is the time for the best elements in Christendom, filled with the enthusiasm of crusaders, to band themselves together in the spirit of truth, justice, and love, answering the call, 'God wills it!' and ready, like the crusaders of old, for service and for sacrifice. Their object then was to deliver the land sanctified by the life of the Word Incarnate; the crusaders of today-----if We may so express it-----have another voyage to make, another sea to cross; they have to traverse the ocean of modern errors, and they have to deliver a spiritual holy land which shall be the ground for the immutable laws of a firmly established and coherent social structure.

Animated by this lofty purpose, We speak to you from the crib of the Prince of Peace, confident that His grace is poured forth in all hearts; We speak to you, beloved children, who in Christ acknowledge and adore your Savior; We speak to all those who are united with Us at least by the spiritual bond of belief in God; We speak, finally, to all who yearn for deliverance from doubt and error and seek for light and guidance; and We exhort and conjure you with fatherly urgency not only to understand fully the terrible gravity of this hour, but also to consider the dawn of supernatural blessings of which it may be the herald. and to unite in laboring together for the renovation of society in spirit and in truth.

  The essential aim of this necessary and holy crusade is that the star of peace, the star of Bethlehem, may once more shine forth upon the whole of humanity in its dazzling splendor, bringing reassurance of peace and the promise of a better, richer, and happier future.

  The way through the darkness to the light of the morning will be long, it is true; but the decisive steps in the journey are the first, and upon the first five milestones of the path, inscribed with chisel of bronze, are the following maxims:


  He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently over society must do all in his power to restore to the human person the dignity which God conferred upon him from the beginning; he must resist the excessive herding together of human beings, as though they were a soulless mass; he must set his face against their disintegration in economic, social, political, intellectual, and moral life; against their lack of solid principles and firm convictions; against their excessive reliance upon instinct and emotion, and against their fickleness of mood; he must favor, by all legitimate means and in every sphere of life, social forms which render possible and guarantee full personal responsibility in regard to things both temporal and spiritual.

   He must foster the observance and practical implementing of the following fundamental rights of the person: the right to maintain and develop physical, intellectual. and moral life, and in particular the right to a religious training and education; the right to worship God, both in private and in public, including the right to engage in religious works of charity; the right, in principle, to marriage and to the attainment of the purpose of marriage, the right to wedded society and home life; the right to work as an indispensable means for the maintenance of family life; the right to the free choice of a state of life, and therefore of the priestly and religious state; the right to a use of material goods, subject to its duties and to its social limitations.


   He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently upon society must reject all forms of materialism, which regard the people as nothing but a herd of individuals, disunited and lacking organic cohesion. and as the
raw material for domination and arbitrary treatment.

  He must endeavor to see society as an organic unity, growing to maturity under the government of Divine Providence; a unity which, within the spatial limits assigned to it and in the measure of its peculiar endowments, is designed, through the collaboration of the various classes and vocational groups of the community, to achieve the eternal and ever new ends of culture and religion. He must defend the indissolubility of marriage; he must give to the family, which is the irreplaceable unit of society, the space, light, and air that it needs in order to fulfill its mission of perpetuating new life, and of educating children in a spirit corresponding with its own true religious convictions; he must devote his energies to preserving, protecting, or restoring the economic, spiritual, moral, and juridical unity of the family: by ensuring that the material and spiritual advantages of the family shall be shared also by the domestic staff: by securing for every family a home in which a healthy family life, both physical and moral, may be maintained in all its vigor and dignity; by ensuring that home and place of work are not so distant from each other that the head of the family, the educator of his children, becomes almost a stranger in his own home; by ensuring, above all, that between school and family that bond of confidence and mutual assistance shall be restored which in times past produced such happy results, but which today has given place to mistrust, in cases where the school, under the influence or the control of a materialistic spirit, contaminates and corrupts the good which the parents have instilled into the minds of their children.


  He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently over society must give to labor the place assigned to it by God from the beginning. All labor, as an indispensable means to the mastery of the earth, by which God wills to be glorified, has an inalienable dignity and at the same time an intimate connection with the development of the human person; nor does this noble dignity and prerogative of labor suffer any diminution from the burden of fatigue which, in consequence of Original Sin, must be endured in obedient submission to the will of God.

  Those who are familiar with the great Encyclicals of Our Predecessors and with Our own previous Messages will know that the Church does not hesitate to draw the practical conclusions which follow from the moral dignity of labor, or to lend them the full weight of her authority.

The dignity of labor demands, not only a just wage, adequate to the needs of the worker and his family, but also the maintenance and development of a social order which will render possible and secure a portion of private property, however modest, for all sections of the community; which will favor a higher education for children of the working classes who are exceptionally intelligent and well disposed; and which will promote and give effect to a practical social spirit in the neighborhood, in the district, and throughout the nation, thus mitigating hostility between various classes and interests, and giving to the workers, instead of a feeling of isolation from their fellow men, the comforting experience of a truly human solidarity and Christian brotherhood.

   The progress and extent of social reform will depend upon the economic power of each nation. It is only by a rational and generous exchange of resources between the strong nations and the weak that a state of world-wide peace will become possible, and all centers of conflagration and infection, which might give rise to new conflicts, be eliminated.

   There are clear signs which lead Us to think that, amidst the ferment of prejudice and hate which are an inevitable but unhappy feature of the war mentality, peoples have not lost the consciousness of their intimate dependence upon one another for good or for evil; indeed that consciousness appears to have become even more lively and active. Is it not true that serious thinkers are coming to perceive more and more clearly that the way to world salvation lies in the renunciation of national egoism and isolation, ready as they are to ask their own people to bear a heavy burden of the sacrifices which will be needful to bring social peace to other nations? May this Christmas Message of Ours. addressed to all men of good will and generous heart, encourage and increase the army of social crusaders in every land! And may God grant to their peace-loving cause the victory which such a noble enterprise deserves!


  He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently over social life must make every effort towards the restoration of the juridical constitution.

     The modern idea of justice is often corrupted by a positivist and utilitarian theory and practice subservient to the interests of particular groups, sections, and movements; the course of legislation and the administration of justice being dictated by their policies.

      This state of affairs can be remedied only by awakening the human conscience to the need of a juridical constitution based upon God's sovereign lordship and immune from human caprice; a constitution which will use its coercive authority to protect the inviolable rights of man against the aggression of any human power.

      A constitution conformable with the Divine will gives man a right to juridical security, and accordingly grants him a sphere of rights immune from all arbitrary attack.

      The relation of man towards man, of individual towards society, towards authority, and towards civic duties, and the relation of society and authority towards individuals-----all these must be based upon a clear juridical foundation and, where necessary, protected by the authority of the courts. This supposes:

      (a) a tribunal and a judge taking their directions from law clearly defined;
       (b) clear legal principles which cannot be upset by unwarranted appeals to a supposed popular sentiment or by merely utilitarian considerations;
       (c) the recognition of the principle that the State also, and the officials and organizations dependent upon the State, are under the obligation of revising and withdrawing such measures as are incompatible with the liberty, the property, the honor, the advancement, or the welfare of individuals.


      He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently upon human society must strive for the recognition of a political theory and practice based upon rational discipline, noble humanity, and a responsible Christian spirit.

He must assist in bringing back the State and the power of the State to its proper function of serving society, and, to a full respect for the human person and for his activity in pursuit of his eternal destiny.

  He must use every effort to stamp out the errors which cause the State and its authority to depart from the path of moral rectitude, repudiating the eminently ethical bond which connects them with individual and social life and denying or in practice ignoring their essential dependence upon the will of the Creator.

  He must promote the general recognition of the truth that, even in the temporal order, the deepest meaning, the ultimate moral basis, and the universal legitimacy of the right to govern, lies in the duty to serve.


   Beloved children, God grant that as Our voice reaches your ears your hearts may be deeply moved by the seriousness, the solicitude, the urgency with which We put these thoughts before you; they are an appeal to the consciences of all men, a rallying call to all those who are willing to see in the vast extent of this universal catastrophe the measure of their own duty and responsibility.

   A great part of the human race, and not a few-----We do not hesitate to say it-----not a few even of those who call themselves Christians, bear some share in the collective responsibility for the aberrations, the disasters, and the low moral state of modern society.

  This world war and everything connected with it-----its remote and immediate antecedents, its processes, its effects in the material, juridical, and moral orders-----is nothing else than the collapse, unexpected perhaps by the thoughtless, but foreseen and feared by those who perceived its real character, of a social order which, beneath a deceptive appearance or mask of conventional formulas, concealed a fatal weakness and an unbridled lust for profit and power.

Forces, which in time of peace had been repressed, unleashed themselves with the outbreak of war in an unhappy succession of acts at variance with the spirit of humanity and Christianity. International conventions entered upon to make war less inhuman by confining it to combatants, by regulating the treatment of occupied countries and of prisoners of war, have in various places remained a dead letter: and who can see where this progressive deterioration may end?

  Are the nations to stand by inactive while this disastrous process goes on? Surely, rather, all men of courage and honor, as they gaze upon the ruins of a social order which has given such tragic proof of its failure to secure the common good, ought to unite in a solemn vow never to rest until valiant souls of every people and every nation of the earth arise in their legions, resolved to bring society back to its immovable center of gravity in the Divine law, and to devote themselves to the service of the human person and of a Divinely ennobled human society.

   Humanity owes this vow to the numberless dead who lie buried on the fields of battle: the sacrifice which they have made of their life in the discharge of duty is a holocaust which calls for a new and better social order.

   Humanity owes this vow to the countless ranks of sorrowing mothers, widows, and orphans, who have seen themselves deprived of the light, the comfort, and the support of their lives.

   Humanity owes this vow to those innumerable exiles whom the hurricane of war has torn away from their native soil and dispersed in a foreign land: who might make their own the Prophet's lament: 'Our inheritance is turned to aliens, our houses to strangers.' [Jer., Lam. v. 2]

   Humanity owes this vow to those hundreds of thousands who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or gradual extinction.

   Humanity owes this vow to those many thousands of non-combatants, women, children, aged, and infirm, whom aerial warfare [the horrors of which We have repeatedly denounced from the beginning], waged indiscriminately or with insufficient precaution, has deprived of life, property, health, homes, charitable institutions, and churches.

   Humanity owes this vow to the flood of tears and bitterness, of pain and torment, which are the outcome of this mortal and gigantic struggle, and which cry to Heaven, calling for the descent of the Spirit, to deliver the world from the continuance of violence and terror.


    And where with greater security and confidence, where with more efficacious faith, could humanity lay this vow
for the renovation of society, than at the feet of the 'desired of all nations' Who lies before us in the manger
in all the fair comeliness of His infant humanity, but inviting our love also by the promise of His redemptive mission already begun? In what place could this noble and holy crusade find more expressive consecration or more powerful stimulus than at Bethlehem, where in the adorable mystery of the Incarnation we were given the new Adam, at whose well-springs of truth and grace all men must drink the waters of salvation if they are not to perish in the wilderness of this life? 'Of His fullness we have all received.' [John i. 16] For twenty centuries now His fullness of truth and grace has been poured out upon the world, and the volume of its stream is not diminished today: His light is more powerful than the darkness, the radiance of His love stronger than the icy rigor of egoism which in so many men paralyzes the power to rise to greater heights. You, volunteers in the crusade for a new and noble social order, must raise the new standard of moral and Christian regeneration, you must declare war upon the darkness of apostasy from God, upon the coldness of fraternal discord; you must wage war in the name of a humanity which is grievously sick, a humanity which must be healed in the name of the Christian conscience.

   Our blessing and Our fatherly goodwill and encouragement be upon your valorous enterprise, and remain with all those who do not shrink from hard sacrifices, weapons more powerful than the sword, these, in fighting the evil from which society suffers. Upon your crusade for a social ideal, truly human and truly Christian, may the star of Bethlehem shed its light of consolation and encouragement-----the star which ushered in and for ever enlightens the Christian era. It is in the sight of that star that every heart has found, still finds and will ever find faith: 'If armies in camp should stand together against me . . . in this will I be confident.' [Ps. xxvi. 3] Where this star shines, there is Christ: 'With this star to guide us we shall not go astray; led by this star let us go to Him, that with the Child Who is born today we may find perpetual joy.' [ St. Aug., Sermo CLXXXIX, c. 4; Migne, P.L., XXXIII. col. 1007]