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“Christian Will to Peace”

(10 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 2, 10 January 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

All wrapped in sweetness, light and “Christian love,” an atom-bomb was placed symbolically on the doorstep of humanity Christmas day, and by no less a personage than “God’s Vicar on Earth,” Pope Pius XII. It was his Christmas Eve radio message from the Vatican Palace.

While the devout in many lands sang of “Peace on earth, good will toward men” and “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” the Pontiff in the Vatican used the occasion for a summons to the capitalist world to prepare for a “holy war” against the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. The “Spiritual Father” called on the “Christian nations” to join against “aggression” not by prayers alone, but “by force of arms” if necessary.

True enough, Pope Pius XII spoke at length on “peace” – the eternal prayer of the pious at Christmas time. Repeatedly he spoke of the “Christian will to peace.” But there was no misunderstanding the holocaust of murder, rapine, loot and destruction which he sanctioned in the name of Jesus, the Man of Peace. The capitalist press in many lands and of many religious hues understood the meaning of the Pope’s message under all the religious doubletalk. The N.Y. Times, on Dec. 25, carried a typical headline:


“Counsels Christian World to Use Armed Force if Needed – Would Outlaw Offenders”

In what the Times called the “most realistic” and “by far the most pessimistic” speech since his advent to the Papal Throne in 1939, Pope Pius exhorted:

“One thing, however, is certain – the commandment of peace is a matter of divine law. Its purpose is the protection of the goods of humanity inasmuch as they are the gifts of the Creator. Among those goods some are of such importance for society that it is perfectly lawful to defend them against unjust aggression. Their defense is even an obligation for the nations as a whole who have a duty not to abandon a nation that is attacked.”

His Holiness, although he did not go into details, is especially sensitive on the matter of “goods” that must be defended from “aggression” even if it means a third world war. Among these “goods,” for instance, are a trifle of 1,500,000 acres of the best land in Hungary that before the war was owned by the Vatican and on which tens of thousands of serfs toiled for the greater glory of God and the enrichment of Rome. This land is being cut up and parcelled out to Hungarian peasants under the Stalinist rule – surely “an act of aggression” that “the world as a whole” must halt “by force of arms” if necessary.

Nobody misinterpreted the Pope’s speech to be a condemnation of the brutal imperialist rape of Indonesia, which the Netherlands, armed by the U.S., brought to a peak of ferocious aggression the very week the Pope spoke. Nor did it have reference, to the Viet-Namese, who are being butchered in Indo-China by good French Christian arms. Only a few days before, the Pontiff had sent special “affectionate blessings” to Francisco Franco and the Spanish fascist government. Indeed, the Vatican’s concern about “aggression” has come to most recent flower – precisely when its own huge property interests and profits are at stake. When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, that was “bringing in triumph the Cross of Christ to Ethiopia.”

The Vatican, through the Pope’s Christmas Eve speech, has shown once again that it is on the side of capitalist reaction, a prop of imperialism. This it uses the name of Jesus and the deepest sentiments of the people for peace to help lead humanity to the hell of atomic war.

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