Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

REPLY OF AUSTRIA-HUNGARY TO THE PAPAL PEACE PROPOSAL1
September 21, 1917

HOLY FATHER: With due veneration and deep emotion we take cognizance of the new representations which your Holiness, in fulfilment of the holy office intrusted to you by God, make to us and the heads of the other belligerent States with the noble intention of leading the heavily tried nations to a unity that will restore peace to them.

With a thankful heart we receive this fresh gift of fatherly care which you, Holy Father to us, always bestow on all peoples without distinction and from the depth of our heart we greet the moving exhortation which your Holiness has addressed to the governments of the belligerent peoples.

During this cruel war we have always looked up to your Holiness as to the highest personage, who, in virtue of his mission, which reaches beyond earthly things, and thanks to the high conception of his duties laid upon him, stands high above the belligerent peoples and who, inaccessible to all influence, was able to find a way which may lead to the realization of our own desire for peace, lasting and honorable for all parties.

Since ascending the throne of our ancestors and fully conscious of the responsibility which we bear before God and men for the fate of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, we have never lost sight of the high aim of restoring to our peoples, as speedily as possible, the blessings of peace. Soon after our accession to the throne it was vouchsafed to us, in common with our allies, to undertake a step which had been considered and prepared by our exalted predecessor, Francis Joseph, to pave the way for a lasting and honorable peace.

We gave expression to this desire in a speech from the Throne delivered at the opening of the Austrian Reichstag, thereby showing that we are striving after a peace that shall free the future life of the nation from rancor and a thirst for revenge, and that shall secure them for generations to come from the employment of armed forces. Our joint government has not failed in the meantime in repeated and emphatic declarations, which could be heard by all the world to give expression to our will and that of the Austro-Hungarian peoples to

____________________
1
Text in The New York Times, September 22, 1917, p. 1.

-137-

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