And now We turn to you, Catholics of France, asking you to receive Our words as a testimony of that most tender affection with which We have never ceased to love your country, and as comfort to you in the midst of the terrible calamities through which you will have to pass. You know the aim of the impious sects that are placing your heads under their yoke, for they themselves have proclaimed with cynical boldness that they are determined to de-Catholicize France. They want to root out from your hearts the last vestige of the faith that covered your fathers with glory, which made your country great and prosperous among nations, which sustains you in your trials, which brings tranquility and peace to your homes, and which opens to you the way to eternal happiness. You feel that you must defend this faith with your whole souls. But be not deluded – all labor and effort will be useless if you endeavor to repulse the assaults made on you without being firmly united. Remove, therefore, any causes of disunion that may exist among you. And do what is necessary to ensure that your unity may be as strong as it should be among men who are fighting for the same cause, especially when this cause is of those for the triumph of which everybody should be willing to sacrifice something of his own opinions. If you wish, within the limits of your strength and according to your imperious duty, to save the religion of your ancestors from the dangers to which it is exposed, it is of the first importance that you show a large degree of courage and generosity. We feel sure that you will show this generosity; and by being charitable towards God’s ministers, you will incline God to be more and more charitable toward yourselves.
As for the defense of religion, if you wish to undertake it in a worthy manner, and to carry it on perseveringly and efficaciously, two things are first of all necessary: you must model yourselves so faithfully on the precepts of the Christian law that all your actions and your entire lives may do honor to the faith you profess, and then you must be closely united with those whose special office it is to watch over religion, with your priests, your bishops, and above all with this Apostolic See, which is the pivot of the Catholic faith and of all that can be done in its name. Thus armed for the fray, go forth fearlessly for the defense of the Church; but take care that your trust is placed entirely in God, for whose cause you are working, and never cease to pray to Him for help. – from Vehementer Nos (On the French law of “separation”), 1906