“‘Nothing is lost with peace. Everything can be lost with war,” Pope Francis told members of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences on Saturday, repeating the phrase first used by Pope Pius XII in 1939.
The Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences promotes the development of the historical sciences through intenational cooperation. Established by Pope Pius XII in 1954, it continues the work of the Commission of Cardinals for Historical Studies, founded in 1883 by Pope Leo XIII.
Speaking to the committee’s plenary assembly, Pope Francis emphasized not only that history is life’s teacher, but he also urged historians to realize they are capable of helping us discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today.
Through their research, the committee members are keenly aware of the Church’s ups and downs, the Pope said, adding that members can use this research to help interpret what the Holy Spirit is saying.
“In your studies and your teaching, you are confronted in particular with the affairs of the Church which walks in time, with her glorious history of evangelization, of hope, of daily struggle, of a life consumed in service, of constancy in toilsome work, as well as of infidelity, of denials, of sins.”
The Pontiff added: “Your research, marked at the same time by authentic ecclesial passion and sincere love of the truth can be of great help to those who have the task of discerning what the Holy Spirit wishes to say to today’s Church.”
He emphasized that members should contribute to an important dialogue between the Church and the modern world. This is made possible due to their “meeting and collaboration with researchers of every culture and religion,” he said.
Pope Francis went on to discuss upcoming events the committee has planned. He focused on the international conference which will mark the 100 year anniversary since the start of World War I.
The Holy Father said the international meeting will pay “special attention to the diplomatic initiatives of the Holy See during that tragic conflict, and of the contribution given by Catholics and other Christians to aid the wounded, refugees, orphans and widows, the search of the dispersed, as well as the reconstruction of a world lacerated by what Pope Benedict XV called ‘pointless slaughter’” – a phrase the wartime Pope wrote in 1917 in his Letter to Heads of the Belligerent Nations toward the conclusion of World War I.
Toward the end of his address, the Holy Father reiterated the words of Pope Pius XII, pope from 1939 to 1958, who called for peace and criticized Nazism and wrote a seven-point peace plan to the leaders of the belligerent nations.
In an August 24, 1939, radio-message, he stated: “‘Nothing is lost with peace. Everything can be lost with war.'” Francis continued, “When we hear those words again, we truly realize that history is ‘magistra vitae'” (Magistra vitae is a Latin expression which suggests that history is life).
The Holy Father closed by encouraging the members present to “continue with enthusiasm in the search and service of the truth.” (D.C.L.)
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