Dicastery: Congregation for the Clergy Topic: Library – Magisterium of the Sovereign Pontiffs – Encyclicals, Language: English Type: Documento. Overview. For nearly two thousand years, popes have communicated to the world primarily through their letters. In the premodern world, the papal chancery. Kindly, fatherly Pope John XXIII issued his first encyclical last week, and it proved to be a fatherly message of warning, hope and encouragement. Ad Petri.

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We who have been elevated despite Our unworthiness to the Chair of Peter have often reflected on the things We saw and heard when Our predecessor passed from this life.

Virtually the entire world, regardless of race or creed, mourned his passing. And then when We were summoned to the dignity of Sovereign Pontiff, great numbers of people, although occupied with other things or weighed down with troubles and difficulties, turned their thoughts and affections to us, and placed their hopes and expectations in Us.

For these reflections of Ours, We have drawn comfort and instruction. For this experience certainly is clear indication that the Catholic Church is forever young and is indeed a standard raised before the nations. This announcement received widespread approval and bolstered the universal hope that the hearts of men would be stirred to a fuller and deeper recognition of truth, a renewal of Christian morals, and a restoration of unity, harmony, and peace.

Today as We address Our first Encyclical Letter to the entire Catholic world, Our apostolic office clearly demands that We discuss three objectives—truth, unity, and peace—and indicate how they may be achieved and advanced in a spirit of charity. May the light of the Holy Spirit come upon Us from on high as We write this letter and upon you as you read it. May the grace of God move all men to attain these objectives, which all desire, even though prejudices, great difficulties, and many obstacles stand in the way of their achievement.

All the evils which poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: Thus arise all manner of errors, which enter the recesses of men’s hearts and the bloodstream of human society as would a plague. These errors turn everything upside down: And yet, God gave each of us an intellect capable of attaining natural truth.

If we adhere to this truth, we adhere to God Himself, the author of truth, the lawgiver and ruler of our lives. But if we reject this truth, whether out of foolishness, neglect, or malice, we turn our backs on the highest good itself and on the very norm for right living. As We have said, it is possible for us to attain natural truth by virtue of our intellects. But all cannot do this easily; often their efforts will result in a mixture of truth and error.

This is particularly the case in matters of religion and sound morals.

Religion: Ad Petri Cathedram

Moreover, we cannot possibly attain those truths which exceed the capacity of nature and the grasp of reason, unless God enlightens and inspires us. This is why the word of God, “who dwells in light inaccessible,” 2 in His great love took pity on man’s plight, “became flesh and dwelt among us,” 3 that He might “enlighten every man who cometh into the world” 4 and lead him not only to full and perfect truth, but to virtue and eternal happiness.

All men, therefore, are bound to accept the teaching of the gospel. For if this is rejected, the very foundations of truth, goodness, and civilization are endangered. It is clear that We are discussing a serious matter, with which our eternal salvation is very intimately connected. Some men, as the Apostle of the Gentiles warns us, are “ever learning yet never attaining knowledge of the truth.

Such men have strayed pathetically far from the teaching of Christ and the views expressed by the Apostle when he said, “Let us all attain to the unity of the faith and of the deep knowledge of the son of God Rather are we to practice the truth in love, and grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ.

For from him the whole body being closely joined and knit together through every joint of the system according to the functioning in due measure of each single part derives its increase to the building up of itself in love. Anyone who consciously and wantonly attacks known truth, who arms himself with falsehood in his speech, his writings, or his conduct in order to attract and win over less learned men and to shape the inexperienced and impressionable minds of the young to his own way of thinking, takes advantage of the inexperience and innocence of others and engages in an altogether despicable business.


In this connection we must urge to careful, exact, and prudent presentation of the truth those especially who, through the books, magazines, and daily newspapers which are so abundant today, have such a great effect on the instruction and development of the minds of men, and especially of the young, and play such a large part in forming their opinions and shaping their characters. These people have a serious duty to disseminate, not lies, error, and obscenity, but only the truth; they are particularly bound to publicize what is conducive to good and virtuous conduct, not to vice.

And in this day of ours, as you well know, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, we also have radio broadcasts, motion pictures, and television which can enter easily into the home. All of these can provide inspiration and incentive for morality and goodness, even Christian virtue. Unfortunately, however, they can also entice men, especially the young, to loose morality and ignoble behavior, to treacherous error and perilous vice.

The weapons of truth, then, must be used in defense against these weapons of evil. We must strive zealously and relentlessly to ward off the impact of this great evil which every day insinuates itself more deeply. We must fight immoral and false literature with literature that is wholesome and sincere. Radio broadcasts, motion pictures, and television shows which make error and vice attractive must be opposed by shows which defend truth and strive to preserve the integrity and safety of morals.

Thus these new arts, which can work much evil, will be turned to the well-being and benefit of men, and at the same time will supply worthwhile recreation.

Health will come from a source which has often produced only devastating sickness. Some men, indeed do not attack the truth wilfully, but work in heedless disregard of it. They act as though God had given us intellects for some purpose other than the pursuit and attainment of truth. This mistaken sort of action leads directly to that absurd proposition: How can God, who is truth, approve or tolerate the indifference, neglect, and sloth of those who attach no importance to matters on which our eternal salvation depends; who attach no importance to pursuit and attainment of necessary truths, or to the offering of that proper worship which is owed to God alone?

So much toil and effort is expended today in mastering and advancing human knowledge that our age glories—and rightly—in the amazing progress it has made in the field of scientific research. But why do we not devote as much energy, ingenuity, and enthusiasm to the sure and safe attainment of that learning which concerns not this earthly, mortal life but the life which lies ahead of us in heaven?

Our spirit will rest in peace and joy only when we have reached that truth which is taught in the gospels and which should be reduced to action in our lives. This is a joy which surpasses by far any pleasure which can come from the study of things human or from those marvellous inventions which we use today and are constantly praising to the skies.

Once we have attained the truth in its fullness, integrity, and purity, unity should pervade our minds, hearts, and actions. For there is only one cause of discord, disagreement, and dissension: It may be that the truth is rejected because of the practical advantages which are expected to result from false views; it may be that it is rejected as a result of that perverted blindness which seeks easy and indulgent excuses for vice and immoral behavior.

All men, therefore, private citizens as well as government officials, must love the truth sincerely if they are to attain that peace and harmony on which depends all real prosperity, public and private. We especially urge to peace and unity those who hold the reins of government.

We who are placed above international controversy have the same affection for the people of all nations. We are led by no earthly advantages, no motives of political dominance, no desires for the things of this life. When we speak of this serious matter Our thoughts can be given a fair hearing and judged impartially by the citizens of every nation. God created men as brothers, not foes.

He gave them the earth to be cultivated by their toil and labor. Each and every man is to enjoy the fruits of the earth and receive from it his sustenance and the necessities of life. The various nations are simply communities of men, that is, of brothers. They are to work in brotherly cooperation for the common prosperity of human society, not simply for their own particular goals.


Besides this, our journey through this mortal life should not be regarded as an end in itself, entered upon merely for pleasure. This journey leads beyond the burial of our human flesh to immortal life, to a fatherland which will endure forever.

If this teaching, this consoling hope, were taken away from men, there would be no reason for living. Lusts, dissensions, and disputes would erupt from within us.


There would be no reasonable check to restrain them. The olive branch of peace would not shine in our thoughts; the firebrands of war would blaze there. Our lot would be cast with beasts, who do not have the use of reason.

Ours would be an even worse lot, for we do have the use of reason and by abusing it which, unfortunately, often happens we can sink into a state lower than that of beasts.

Like Cain, we would commit a terrible crime and stain the earth with our brother’s blood. Before all else, then, we must turn our thoughts to sound principles if we wish, as we should, to guide our actions along the path of justice. We are called brothers.

We actually are brothers. We share a common destiny in this life and the next. Why, then, do we act as though we are foes and enemies? Af do we envy one another? Why do we stir up hatred? Why do we ready lethal weapons for use against our brothers? There has already been enough warfare among men!

Too many youths in the flower of life have shed their blood already! Legions of the dead, all fallen in battle, dwell within this earth of ours. Their stern voices urge us all to return at once to harmony, unity, and a just peace.

All men, then, should turn their attention away from those things that divide and separate us, and should consider how they may be joined in mutual and just regard for one another’s opinions and possessions. Only if we desire peace, as we should, instead of war, and only if we all aspire sincerely to fraternal harmony among nations, shall it come to pass that public affairs and public questions are correctly understood and settled to the satisfaction of all.

Ad Petri Cathedram Archives – Bayard, Inc.

Then shall international conferences seek and reach decisions conducive to the longed-for unity of the whole human family. In the enjoyment of that unity, individual nations will see that their right to liberty is not subject to another’s whims but is fully secure.

Those who oppress others and strip them of their due liberty can contribute nothing to the attainment of this unity. But if men do not pursue this fraternal unity, based on the precepts of justice and nurtured by charity, then human affairs will remain in serious peril.

This is why wise men grieve and lament; they are uncertain whether we are heading for sincere, true, and firm peace, or are rushing in complete blindness into the fires of a new and terrible war. We say “in complete blindness,” for if—God forbid!

The monstrous weapons our age has devised will see to that! We ask all men, but particularly rulers of nations, to weigh these considerations prudently and seriously in the presence of God our protector.

May they enter with a will upon those paths which will lead to the unity that is so badly needed. This harmonious unity will be restored when hearts are at peace, when the rights of all are guaranteed, and when there has dawned that liberty due everywhere to individual citizens, to the state, and to the Church. The harmonious unity which must be sought among peoples and nations also needs ever greater improvement among the various classes of individuals.

Otherwise mutual antagonism and conflict can result, as we have already seen. And the next step brings rioting mobs, wanton destruction of property, and sometimes even bloodshed.

Meanwhile public and private resources diminish and are stretched to the danger point. Each needs the other: Their mutual agreement will result in the splendor of right order.