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Papal blundering

07 August 2015

August 6th, 1915

ON JULY the 28th, the anniversary of the outbreak of war, the Pope issued an address to the belligerent nations and their responsible heads. His heart, he wrote, yearns more than ever for a cessation of war. Let them listen to the voice of the Vicar of that Judge to Whom they must give an account of their public and private acts. Why did they not at once begin an interchange of views directly or indirectly? “Blessed is he who first lifts the olive-branch.” It will be seen that his Holiness is as determined as ever to preserve a religious as well as a diplomatic neutrality. He does not address himself especially to the belligerents who plunged Europe into war and deluged it with blood, but makes them all equally responsible, as though there were no difference between those who fight in self-defence and those who are the aggressors. We know, if the Pope does not, that a peace made now would be all in favour of Germany and Austria, the one a nation which has been preparing for this war for forty years and more, the other a nation that never respects the rights of its neighbours. The sentiments expressed by his Holiness are laudable enough in themselves, but in the circumstances he would have done better by keeping silence. For the Allies have no liking for being classed with the German assassins towards whom His Holiness is so tender. Nothing that he can do now will be free from the suspicion of political partisanship. If he will not condemn the Austro-Germans, whom all the rest of the world condemns, he cannot hope to secure reverence for the Holy See.

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