Page 1, 28th December 1956

28th December 1956
Page 1
Page 1, 28th December 1956 — Speech broadcast in 27 languages

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Organisations: United Nations


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Speech broadcast in 27 languages

'No longer room for doubt about armies which rely on tanks' THE Holy Father's address—a speech of 6,000 words delivered in a wonderfully vibrant voice to a gathering of 12 Cardinals and some 500 prelates and other distinguished clergy and laity in the Consistorial Hall of the Vatican—was broadcast by Vatican Radio in 27 languages to both sides of the Iron Curtain.

"We are convinced", said His Holiness, "that today, in face of an enemy determined to impose on all peoples, in one way or another, a special and intolerable way of life, only thc unanimous and courageous behaviour of all who love the true and the good can preserve peace and will preserve it.

" It would be a fatal error to repeat what, in similar circumstances, happened during the years preceding the second World War. when all the threatened nations, and not merely the smallest, sought their safety at the expense of others, using them as shields, so to speak, and even seeking very questionable economic and political advantages from their neighbour's suffering.

" In the end all together were overwhelmed in the holocaust.

" Hence, a definite need of this period—a means of ensuring the whole world's peace and a fruitful share of its goods, a force which embraces too the peoples of Asia, Africa, the near East, Palestine with its Holy Places is the restoration of European solidarity.

" But this unity is not assured until all the associated nations realise that the political and economic defeats of one can nowhere, in the long run, result in true gains for the others.


" It is not strong. as far as the forming of public opinion is concerned, if in the hour of common peril criticism, even though justified, of one nation's actions is expressed by the others with such one-sidedness as to cause doubt that any bond at all of union remains.

"A good course of action can never be had by mere sentiment. Much less can a true political course for today be maintained with the sentiments of yesterday and the day before.

" Under such influence it would be impossible to judge correctly certain important questions, such as military service, weapons, war.

" Present-day conditions, which find no counterparts in the past, should be clear to everyone.

"There is no longer rodm for doubt concerning the aims and methods which rely on tanks when these noisily crash over borders. sowing death in order to force civilian peoples into a pattern of life they explicitly detest, when. destroying as it were, the stages of possible negotiation and mediation, the threat is made of using atomic weapons to gain certain demands, be they justified or not," The Holy Father then turned to the question of a war of defence. He said:

" It is clear that in the present circumstances there can be verified in a nation the situation wherein, every effort to avoid war having been expended in vain, war—for effective self-defence and with the hope of a favourable outcome against unjust attack -could not be considered unlawful.

" If, therefore, a body representative of the people and a government—both having been chosen by free elections—in a moment of extreme danger decided, by legitimate instruments of internal and external policy, on defensive precautions, and carry out the plans which they consider necessary, they do not act immorally. so that a Catholic citizen cannot invoke his own conscience in order to refuse to serve and fulfil those duties the law imposes.


"On this matter we feel that we are in perfect harmony with our predecessors Leo X111 and Benedict XV, who never denied that obligation but lamented the headlong armaments race and the moral dangers accompanying barrack life and urged, as we do likewise, general disarmament as an effective remedy.

"There are, then, occasions and times in the life of nations in which only recourse to higher principles can establish clearly the boundaries between right and wrong, between what is lawful and what is immoral, and bring peace to consciences faced with grave decisions.

"It is therefore consoling that in some countries, amid today's debates, men are talking about conscience and its demands ...

" No one expects or demands the impossible. not even from the united nations, but one should have a right to expert that their authority should have had its weight, at least through observers, in the places in which the essential values of man are in extreme danger.


"Although the United Nations' condemnation of the grave violations of the rights of men and of entire nations is worthy of recognition, one can nevertheless wish that. in similar cases, the exercise of their rights, as members of this organisation. he denied to States which refuse even the admission of observers, thus showing that their concept of State sovereignty threatens the very foundations of the United Nations.'

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