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German Bishops at Fulda – Pastoral Letter by the Conference of Catholic Bishops (August 23, 1945)

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To farmers we direct the solemn request to sell food at just prices and to meet conscientiously their duties of delivering foodstuffs rather than keeping their products for themselves or reserving them for smaller towns in the neighborhood. No matter how great the misery that has come about us, in faith and in charity we shall be stronger than suffering and all wickedness of sin. No doubt, those persons called to public positions will find ways and means of distributing equitably and in social justice the load of remedying the tremendous damage caused by the war.

Beloved flock: A period of utter worldliness has collapsed and has left us its monstrous debris. Let us remove the ruins primarily in the spirit of penance and return to the Lord, our God. Let us go to work and build anew on the firm foundation of belief in the Triune God and in resignation to God’s Holy Will. Let us trudge our weary way through labor, privation and anxiety, with our eyes on the eternal good, which God has promised us for faithful service here on earth. “For here we have no permanent city, but we seek for the city that is to come” (Hebr. 13, 14).

What a great consolation this thought is to us Christians amidst all our misery: this life, so serious and full of responsibility, is but a prelude and a trial. Only when this trial is over will true and eternal life begin. The all-just, all-wise and all-good God will then reward each one according to his works. Not even a drink of cold water given to a neighbor for Christ’s sake will be forgotten. Then we shall be judged above all according to the measure in which we observed the great commandment of love, which especially in these times of need claims its royal place before all other commandments.

A glance at our eternal home, which God in His goodness has prepared for his children, is the sweetest consolation for us Christians, when we think of the many whom this fearful war has taken from us—no matter where in the wide world they have found their graves; whether the oceans have swallowed them or whether they were buried under the debris of their homes. The entrance to God’s glory is open to all, provided they died in the peace of Christ, perhaps receiving the grace of reconciliation with God at the very last moment. Our Lord will know how to find even their bodies and on the last day He will restore them in the eternal beauty of youth, incorrupt, rejuvenated and glorified.


Our greeting, admonition and prayer is especially directed to you, dear men, who return home from the war and many a time face ruin. You were prepared to die for your people, now be prepared to live for them. Keeping faith in God which has not sunk in this huge collapse, in union with the wife who has been wedded to you, or with the girl whose hand you will accept at the Altar of God and whose most precious dowry is diligence, love of simplicity and union with God—so you will build a Christian home. You will count it to your honor to assist in true friendliness your less fortunate comrades who return maimed, and above all to help them in preparing for a new profession, so that they may soon earn their own bread again, being mindful of the word of the Apostle: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6, 2).

In His Holy Name we bless you, young and old, and we implore for you the fullness of God’s consolation and strength.

May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Source of original German text: Keesing’s Archiv der Gegenwart [Archive of the Present], August 23, 1945, p. 392; reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann, Die doppelte Staatsgründung: Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1955 [The Founding of Two German States: German History, 1945-1955]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986, pp. 377-78.

Source of English translation: “German Bishops at Fulda,” The Catholic Mind, November 1945, pp. 691-96. Reprinted from The Catholic Mind, November 1945, with permission from America Press, Inc.,

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