Today in Catholic History – Communium Interpretes Dolorum

On 15 April 1945, as WWII was coming to an and and on the same day the US army liberated the concentration camp at Colditz and the British and Canadian army liberated the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical Communium Interpretes calling for the promotion of peace throughout the world.

In the encyclical, Pius XII reflected on the destruction caused by the war and called on the faithful to offer prayers to the Mother of God, especially in May – that month dedicated to her, that Christ might bring healing to all those who were suffering. In addition to the offering of prayers, the Pope called for a return to Christian morality and the renewal of public and private life. For, Pius XII warned that if true justice was not the goal then the world ran the risk of future wars.

The Pope specifically called for prayers for those who had been driven from their homes by the war and those who were imprisoned. Thus the encyclical served as an important document for the development of Catholic social teaching regarding the importance of peace and the care of refugees.

It is interesting to note that this was Pius XII’s first encyclical on the war, even though fighting had been raging throughout Europe ever since September 1 of 1939.

Communium Interpretes Dolorum

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