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Pope: 60-year-old letter was ‘serenity in midst of dark clouds’

JOHN XXIII

Shutterstock | Renata Sedmakova-Alex Gontar

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/12/23

Pope Francis thinks we should take out this letter to read again, as its message is very timely today.

Pope Francis is calling the faithful to read an encyclical letter of his predecessor, St. John XXIII.

“Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the encyclical Pacem in terris, which St John XXIII addressed to the Church and the world at the height of the tension between the two opposing blocs in the so-called Cold War,” the Pope noted at the end of the general audience of this April 12.

Francis praised St. John XXIII’s vision:

The Pope opened before everyone the broad horizon in which to speak of peace and to build peace: God’s plan for the world and the human family. That encyclical was a true blessing, like a glimpse of serenity in the midst of dark clouds.

Pope Francis, who considers that the world is engaged in a type of World War III, fought piecemeal, said that the message of the encyclical is “very timely” today.

Suffice it to quote this passage: “relations between States, as between individuals, must be regulated not by armed force, but in accordance with the principles of right reason: the principles, that is, of truth, justice and vigorous and sincere co-operation.”

I invite the faithful and men and women of good will to read Pacem in terris, and I pray that the Heads of Nations may be inspired by it in their plans and decisions.

Pacem in Terris is the first encyclical that mentions – in number 75 – the United Nations Organization, constituted on June 26, 1945.

The following year, in 1964, the Holy See became a permanent observer of the United Nations, then on October 4, 1965, Paul VI was the first pontiff to address the General Assembly.

His successors John Paul II (in 1979 and 1995), Benedict XVI (in 2008) and Francis (in 2015) also spoke before the UN General Assembly in New York.

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