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Christ Jesus and His Church

The Archbishops and Bishops of the United States in Conference assembled, to their Clergy and faithful people — Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Venerable Brethren of the Clergy,
Beloved Children of the Laity:

“One true reform the world has known. It was effected, not by force, agitation or theory, but by a Life in which the perfect ideal was visibly realized, becoming the light of men (John 1:4)*. That light has not grown dim with the passing of time. Men have turned their eyes away from it; even His followers have strayed from its pathway; but the truth and the life of Jesus Christ are real and clear today for all who are willing to see. There is no other name under heaven whereby the world can be saved (Acts 4:12).

“Through the Gospel of Jesus and His living example, mankind learned the meaning, and received the blessing of liberty. In His person was shown the excellence and true dignity of human nature, in which human rights have their center. In His dealings with men, justice and mercy, sympathy and courage, pity for weakness and rebuke for hollow pretence, were perfectly blended. Having fulfilled the law, He gave to His followers a new commandment (John 13:34). Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). And since He came that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), He gave it to them through His death.

“The Church which Christ established has continued His work, upholding the dignity of man, defending the rights of the people, relieving distress, consecrating sacrifice and binding all classes together in the love of their Savior. The combination of authority and reasonable freedom which is the principal element in the organization of the Church, is also indispensable in our social relations. Without it, there can be neither order nor law nor genuine freedom.

“But the Church itself would have been powerless save for the abiding presence of Christ and His Spirit. “Without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)“; and, “Behold, I am with you always (Matt. 28:20).” Both these sayings are as true today as when they were spoken by the Master. There may be philosophies and ideals and schemes of reform; the wise may deliberate and the powerful exert their might; but when the souls of men have to be reached and transformed to a better sense, that justice may reign and charity abound, then more than ever is it true that without Christ our efforts are vain.” (A letter from the U.S. Bishops assembled in conference, September, 1919. )

* Scripture references added from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE), © 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America. Published by Thomas Nelson for Scepter, Princeton, NJ.

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