The Pope urges women all over the world to work for peace
THE Holy Father, obviously with vivid memories of the hundreds of thousands of tragic messages, which came to him during the war from both sides of the firing lines, called last week upon Catholic women throughout the world to take concrete action to prevent another World War.
They must not only work for peace, said His Holiness, but insistently demand it from the rulers of the nations "those in whose hands is the fatal choice between the sword and the olive branch."
To the rulers themselves the Holy Father said: "Do not ask women for useless heroism. They already have so many heroic acts to perform in their ordinary life, for their country and for the human family.
"Look with the eyes of sons upon the anxieties of so many mothers and wives—among whom are also yours and let them have greater weight in the scales of your deliberations."
The many "missing" men of Allied armies still held prisoner behind the Iron Curtain were apparently in the mind of His Holiness when he spoke of "mothers and wives who for long years have been without word of the fate of their dear ones; and some— because of the unbelievable insensibility of rulers of States whose actions are so contrary to their words —even today are suffering the awful anguish of the question: Is my son alive?'
"Millions of men and women, who can be considered as the survivors of the recent conflagration, still retain vivid memories of its horrors," said the Holy Father.
"Mothers with babies at their breasts. struck down with the ruins of their homes; others torn by wounds; others turned as it were to stone by the sorrow and unexpectedness of their losses, as if something of their life were suddenly dashed to pieces.
"And in other places, in unnumbered multitudes, there are women —to whom home means everything —compelled to go on wandering from place to place, driven on by armies, with the dread shadow of terror hanging over them. with babies clinging to their necks and crying with hunger or from disease.. Virgins shamefully defiled; maidens from whom the great dream of their life has been snatched away. . .
"This is the lot of women in war.
"Have rulers of people ever thought of such tragedies with the hearts of sons?"
But, said His Holiness, if there is to be real peace, it must be founded upon Christian principles. In their cry for peace there must he no bitterness, no hatred.
"It is certain that any invocation of peace which is deprived of the Christian concept is doomed to resound in the desert of the heart like the cry of shipwrecked men in the wastes of the ocean.
"The Church and humanity expect from you action aimed at wiping out hatred and forging bonds of brotherhood between peoples and at eliminating the material causes of conflict, such as want, unemployment, obstacles to emigration and such-like.
"Spread everywhere the spirit of gentleness and the sense of fraternity amongst all the children of God. Guide the new generations to a sense of universal fraternity and of abhorrence of violence."
And women, the Holy Father pointed out, nowadays have a much wider sphere of influence.
"In other ages their influence was restricted to their homes and the surroundings of their homes. In our days it extends—whether we like it or not—to public and social life, to parliaments, to courts, to journalism, to professions and trades.
"Many women carry their work for peace into each of these spheres. "If, however, all women were to pass from that innate feeling which makes them abhor war to concrete action to impede war it would be impossible for the total of such imposing efforts. which bring into play the forces best calculated to move the will, namely, piety and love—it would be impossible, we say, for it to fail to win its objective."