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Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum

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Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum

Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum is an encyclical of Pope Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of All Saints on November 1, 1914, in the first year of his Pontificate. The first encyclical written by Pope Benedict XV coincided with the beginning of First World War, which he labelled "the Suicide of Civilized Europe".

Benedict described the combatants as the greatest and wealthiest nations of the earth; they are well provided with the most awful weapons modern military science has devised, they strive to destroy one another with refinements of horror. There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.[1]

In light of the senseless slaughter, the Pope pleads for "peace on earth to men of good will",[2] insisting that there are other ways and means whereby violated rights can be rectified.[3]

The origin of the evil is a neglect of the precepts and practices of Christian wisdom, particularly a lack of love and compassion. Jesus Christ came down from Heaven for the very purpose of restoring among men the Kingdom of Peace, "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another;[4] "This is my commandment that you love one another";[5] Materialism, nationalism, racism and class warfare are the characteristics of the age instead, so Benedict XV:

  • Race hatred has reached its climax; peoples are more divided by jealousies than by frontiers; within one and the same nation, within the same city there rages the burning envy of class against class; and amongst individuals it is self-love which is the supreme law over-ruling everything.[6]

A second cause of the general unrest is the absence of respect for the authority of those who exercise ruling powers. Human power is weakened, if separated from God the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, resulting in contempt of law and crime,[7] Human authority fails where religion, which authorizes it, is set aside.

A deeper root of the evils is according to the Bible, "the desire of money, the root of all evils".[8] Against calls for class war, strikes, revolution and new social orders, Benedict upholds what he considers the Christian alternative of the Sermon of the Mount: "Blessed are ye poor . . . Blessed are ye that weep now; . . . Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil".[9] He teaches, that

  • Through the sorrows and sufferings and miseries of this life, patiently borne with, as it is right that they should be, that we shall enter into possession of those true and imperishable goods which "God hath prepared for them that love Him".[10] This most important teaching of our Faith is overlooked by many, and by not a few it has been completely forgotten.[11]

Church life

Turning to Church life, Benedict praises his predecessor Pius X, who succeeded in a revival of religious life.[12] Not to lose sight of this, he appeals to Catholics not to be divided in this time of war, but united. In the Catholic Church so Benedict, is room for divergent opinions. Everybody has a clear right to express and defend his own opinion, but this should be done with charity and moderation respecting the different views of others and of the magisterium.[13]

Benedict opposes theological or political labelling of other views such as liberal or conservative as divisive. There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname", only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself. 24 He repeats the condemnation of "Modernism", which Pius X declared to be "the synthesis of all heresies",[14] But adaptation to the times is necessary too. As a guide in matters subject to change, he defines the rule, which was later used by John XXIII and Paul VI during Vatican II: "Old things, but in a new way". The encyclical concluded with a renewed call for the end of the most disastrous war, for the sake of human society and for the sake of the Church.[15]

See also

Notes

References

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