by the German bishops in the pastoral letter issued after this year's annual Fulda conference and read in all the churches of Germany last week.
"We, the German bishops, renew our urgent appeal to the statesmen in whose hands lies the fate of German unity," the pastoral says. "May they undertake everything that is conceivable and possible to acomplish a substantial contribution to the peace of the world through the closing of this still open wound of the war."
Earlier, the bishops referred to the "indestructible unity of Catholics in divided Germany" as the "deepest experience" of the recent 78th German Katholikentag (Catholic congress) at Berlin. This they wished to
maintain and to deepen : "Before Christ Our Lord we remain together in the cares of our divided people and in prayer to our common Father."
One great anxiety was the division of Germany. A deep longing for reutrification lived in their people. "Many attempts have been undertaken in past years to relieve this state of distress, yet until now the difficulties have grown rather than diminished."
This problem was indivisibly bound up with the tensions that today disturbed all peoples. "No real peace rules among the nations. Men are continually alarmed by the fear of the horror of a new war." The Holy Father had often
in recent years discussed this question in Encyclicals, addresses and messages.
Another great anxiety, which they had referred to in 1956, was the danger of dialectical materialism as a systematic disavowal of God and of practical materialism as a renunciation of God in one's life. This double danger had meanwhile increased.
" In large areas of our fatherland, dialectical materialism and the atheism that grows from it are deliberately set up as the prevailing form of political and social life." Many Christians had to suffer severe oppression for their faith.
A great anxiety to the bishops. too, was the practical materialism of many Catholics-" a life against the order of God." " Possession and enjoyment, as well as a narrow-minded care for their own prosperity. all too often determine the life of such people, who call themselves Christians."
They were disturbed to see how easily petty self-seeking displaced concern for the danger to the faith of fellow-Catholics, for the persecution of the Church, and for the peace of the world.
Catholics were urged to pray that the Church could fulfil her divine mission in all countries of the earth, that the. antagonism between nations might be mitigated, that God would protect them from a third world war, and that He of His goodness would help their divided nation.