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Exchange of Messages With Pope Pius XII.

December 23, 1949

[Released December 23, 1949. Dated December 17, 1949]

Your Holiness:

The summons to peace on earth, good will toward men has come ringing down the ages, giving direction to the thought and the action of every human being whose life is lived according to God's purpose.

The significance of the divine call, personified in the birth and mission of the Savior, is increasingly visible in the record of history despite the vicissitudes oftentimes encountered on the long path of the centuries. It is found in the progress that man is making toward a better world. It is found in the humanitarian help given to lighten the burden of suffering wherever it has overtaken men, women and children. It is found in the steady achievement of friendly, mutually helpful relations among most of the world's peoples today, living indeed as Good Neighbors. It is found in the efforts of these peoples to persuade and encourage the leaders of the few nations not following this path to an enlightened and advancing world order rounded on morality, justice, truth and freedom to permit their peoples to live also as Good Neighbors, and to join with the multitude in striving to build a world wholly and truly at peace.

It is at this Christmastide when, consecrating ourselves afresh to the service of mankind and meditating on the glorious lessons for man taught by the life of the Savior, all men of good will can again feel in their hearts the inward peace that is the Well-Spring of the Good Life. To bring a just, enduring peace among the nations is the great task that beckons still ahead and calls for re-dedication.

Mindful of its Christian heritage, and of the moral tenets that alone can lead to the Good and the True in the lives of the farflung community of the nations as in the lives of individuals, the United States gladly rededicates its efforts to the creation of a peaceful and advancing world order. This is my message to you for the most blessed day of the year.

Faithfully yours,


[His Holiness Pope Plus XII, Vatican City, Italy]

Note: The Pope's reply, dated December 20 and released with the President's message, follows:

Your Excellency:

We have just received your kind letter of December 17, 1949, which has been presented to us personally by Mr. Myron C. Taylor.

While once again bidding a cordial welcome to your worthy personal representative, we hasten to express our appreciation of the noble sentiments which inspire your Christmas message.

Your Excellency has appropriately made reference to the great benefits that the birth and mission of the Divine Redeemer have brought to mankind.

Indeed, salvation will not come for the world until mankind, deriving its inspiration from the teachings and example of Christ, comes to recognize that all men are children of the One Father who is in Heaven, destined to be truly brothers through union with His Divine Son, Whom He sent to be Redeemer of all.

Only this brotherhood gives to man, with the highest sense of personal dignity, assurance of true equality, the necessary basis of justice.

Only this brotherhood guarantees the gift of true liberty in the enjoyment of our rights and in the fulfillment of our duties in obedience to the laws given by Almighty God and His Divine Son for the morality and sanctity of human life.

Only this brotherhood inspires, nourishes, and revives in the hearts of men that true charity which abhors all oppression and violence; which rises above egoism, whether in individuals or peoples; which is able to sacrifice itself for the common good and to give generously of itself to the destitute and to relieve those who are suffering.

These are the foundations upon which must be built the structure of peace--this also a gift of the Divine Saviour--a peace which is real and solid, just and enduring.

Toward the attainment of this peace, we have ever dedicated all our efforts: first, that war be averted; later, that its destruction and resulting griefs be circumscribed; and now, to lessen the sorrowful consequences that still today press heavily on so large a part of the human family.

In this beneficent work of Christian charity, we are pleased once again to recall--that it may be recorded to their honor--the cordial understanding and the valued cooperation of the people of the United States. In this generosity, so bounteous and spontaneous, we recognize with pleasure, and hold up as an example to all, that good will which, according to the Christmas message of the angels, gives glory to God and hastens the coming of peace on earth.

We invoke the light, assistance and blessing of the Christ Child upon Your Excellency's person and work, as well as upon all your fellow citizens, who courageously strive to find and follow the road leading to a peaceful future for mankind.

Harry S Truman, Exchange of Messages With Pope Pius XII. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229847

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