In a video message on Thursday, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to stay committed to making the world a more just and peaceful place, as his predecessor Pius XII urged 70 years ago.

Pope Francis sent his brief message to the Movimento per un Mondo Migliore (Movement for a Better World), which is celebrating 70 years since its founding in 1952.

The Catholic group was created in response to Pope Pius XII’s radio message to the Roman faithful, transmitted on Feb. 10, 1952.

In his “Proclamation for a Better World,” as it came to be known, Venerable Pius XII exhorted his “beloved children” to take action.

“It is a whole world that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, that needs to be transformed from wild to human, from human to divine, that is, according to the heart of God,” the pope said less than seven years after the end of World War II.

“Millions of people are calling for a change of course,” Pius XII said, “and they look to the Church of Christ as the only valid and unique helmswoman who, with respect for human freedom, can be at the head of this great undertaking, and they implore her guidance with open words, and even more with the tears already shed, with the wounds still aching, pointing to the endless cemeteries that organized and armed hatred has spread over the continents.”

Pope Pius XII / public domain.
Pope Pius XII / public domain.

In his Feb. 10 video message, Pope Francis commented on his predecessor’s speech.

“He used a word: ‘wildness.’ A wild world, which must become more humane, more Christian, but more human, because the Lord is always near to humanity,” Francis said.

More in Vatican

Pope Francis thanked the members of the Movement for a Better World for their work. “Above all, I encourage you to work for justice, for children and the elderly, and for peace. This is a better world, which we want to be a world of peace,” he said.

The Movement for a Better World, which is now present in 12 countries on six continents, was founded by Father Riccardo Lombardi, SJ, at Pius XII’s request.

Lombardi, a noted preacher, was the uncle of Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., who served as director of the Holy See press office from 2006 to 2016 and is a former director of Vatican Radio.

The Vatican recognized the movement as an international association of the faithful in 1988.

The association, which Pope Francis said “has been a vision of life, a vision of Creation,” has a series of “Exercises for a Better World” inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises.

In his 1952 radio message, Pius XII said to listeners: “This is not the time to discuss, to seek new principles, to assign new goals and objectives. One and the other, already known and established in their substance, because taught by Christ himself, clarified by the secular elaboration of the Church, adapted to the immediate circumstances by the last Supreme Pontiffs, await only one thing: the concrete implementation.”

“Accept with a noble impetus of dedication, recognizing it as a call from God and a worthy reason for living, the holy task entrusted to you today by your Pastor and Father: to initiate a powerful reawakening of thought and deed,” he urged.

(Story continues below)

“This reawakening,” he continued, “must involve everyone, without evasions of any kind, clergy and people, authorities, families, groups, every single soul, on the front of the total renewal of Christian life, on the line of the defense of moral values, in the implementation of social justice, in the reconstruction of the Christian order, so that even the external face of the City, from apostolic times the center of the Church, may appear in a short time radiant with holiness and beauty.”