Encyclical on Prayers for Peace for Poland, Hungary, and the Middle East
His Holiness Pope Pius XII
Promulgated on November 1, 1956
To the Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
WE ARE MOST PLEASED TO LEARN that the Consecrated Shepherds of the Catholic world and the rest of the clergy and faithful have responded with generosity and enthusiasm to the paternal entreaty of Our recent Encyclical Letter by supplicating Heaven in public prayers. And so We give unceasing thanks to God from Our heart that He has heard so many prayers, especially of innocent boys and girls, and a new dawn of peace based on justice seems to be breaking at long last for the people of Poland and Hungary.
2. With no less joy have We learned that Our beloved sons, Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Stefan Wyszynski, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, and Jozef Mindszenty, Archbishop of Esztergom, who had both been expelled from their Sees, are acknowledged to be innocent men, unjustly accused of crime, and as such have already been restored to their positions of honor and responsibility and welcomed in triumph by rejoicing multitudes.
3. We are confident that this event will prove a happy omen for the restoration and pacification of these two countries on a basis of sounder principle and nobler law, and, above all, with proper respect for God's rights and those of His Church.
4. Wherefore We call again and again upon all the Catholics of those countries to unite themselves about their lawful shepherds with massed force and drawn ranks, and thus apply themselves diligently to the advancement and strengthening of this holy cause. For it is a cause which cannot be abandoned or neglected without making true peace an impossibility.
5. But even while Our heart still fears on this account, We behold the threat of another frightening crisis. As you know, Venerable Brothers, the flames of another war are being fanned menacingly in the Near East, not far from that holy land where angels descended from Heaven and hovered over the crib of the Divine Child, announcing peace to men of good will. (Luke 2. 14).
6. What else can We do, who embrace all peoples with a father's affection, but raise suppliant prayers to the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort (cfr. 11 Cor. 1. 3), and urge all of you to join in them with Us? For "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but powerful before God." (11 Cor. 10. 4)
7. We trust solely in Him Who can illuminate the minds of men with His heavenly light and incline their incited wills to those more temperate counsels by which right order among nations may be established, to their common advantage and with certainty that the legitimate rights of all interested parties are being secured.
8. May all men, especially those who hold the destinies of nations in their hands, remember that war brings no lasting benefit, but a host of misfortunes and disasters. Differences among men are not resolved by arms, bloodshed, or destruction, but only by reason, law, prudence, and justice.
9. When wise men who are motivated by a desire for lasting peace meet to discuss such differences, they should certainly feel obliged to enter upon the ways of justice rather than the rash road of violence if they reflect upon the grave dangers of a war which may start as a tiny spark, but can burst into an enormous conflagration.
10. Amidst these dangerous crises We wish especially to convince the heads of governments. We cannot possibly doubt their realization that no other interest motivates Us but the common good and prosperity of all, which can never be achieved by the massacre of one's brothers.
11. And since, as We have said, We place Our hope above all in the providence and mercy of God. We repeatedly, urge you, Venerable Brothers, not to cease encouraging and promoting this zealous crusade of prayer. Through it--with the intercession of His Mother, the Virgin Mary--may Almighty God in His goodness grant an end to the threat of war, a happy solution to the conflicting claims of nations, and assurance everywhere, to the common benefit of all, of those rights granted the Church by her Divine Founder. Thus may "the whole human family, which has been rent asunder by sin's wound, be brought under the sway of His most sweet rule." (Prayer for the Feast of Christ the King)
12. Until then, lovingly in our Lord, We impart to all of you, Venerable Brothers, and to the flocks entrusted to your care, who will certainly respond like you to Our renewed exhortations, Our Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of heavenly graces and evidence of Our fatherly good wishes.
13. Given at Rome, from St. Peter's on the first day of November, the Feast of All Saints, in the year 1956, the eighteenth of Our Pontificate.