|April 28th, 2009||#1|
National Socialism and the Church
On the Church and the German Reich
MIT BRENNENDER SORGE
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON THE CHURCH AND THE GERMAN REICH MARCH 14, 1937
To the Venerable Brethren the Archbishops and Bishops of Germany and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Greetings, and Apostolic Blessing.
It is with deep anxiety and growing surprise that We have long been following the painful trials of the Church and the increasing vexations which afflict those who have remained loyal in heart and action in the midst of a people that once received from St. Boniface the bright message and the Gospel of Christ and God's Kingdom.
2. And what the representatives of the venerable episcopate, who visited Us in Our sick room, had to tell Us, in truth and duty bound, has not modified Our feelings. To consoling and edifying information on the stand the Faithful are making for their Faith, they considered themselves bound, in spite of efforts to judge with moderation and in spite of their own patriotic love, to add reports of things hard and unpleasant. After hearing their account, We could, in grateful acknowledgment to God, exclaim with the Apostle of love: "I have no greater grace than this, to hear that my children walk in truth" (John iii. 4). But the frankness indifferent in Our Apostolic charge and the determination to place before the Christian world the truth in all its reality, prompt Us to add: "Our pastoral heart knows no deeper pain, no disappointment more bitter, than to learn that many are straying from the path of truth."
3. When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years' standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church's beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ's interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it.
4. If, then, the tree of peace, which we planted on German soil with the purest intention, has not brought forth the fruit, which in the interest of your people, We had fondly hoped, no one in the world who has eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to lay the blame on the Church and on her Head. The experiences of these last years have fixed responsibilities and laid bare intrigues, which from the outset only aimed at a war of extermination. In the furrows, where We tried to sow the seed of a sincere peace, other men -- the "enemy" of Holy Scripture -- oversowed the cockle of distrust, unrest, hatred, defamation, of a determined hostility overt or veiled, fed from many sources and wielding many tools, against Christ and His Church. They, and they alone with their accomplices, silent or vociferous, are today responsible, should the storm of religious war, instead of the rainbow of peace, blacken the German skies.
5. We have never ceased, Venerable Brethren, to represent to the responsible rulers of your country's destiny, the consequences which would inevitably follow the protection and even the favor, extended to such a policy. We have done everything in Our power to defend the sacred pledge of the given word of honor against theories and practices, which it officially endorsed, would wreck every faith in treaties and make every signature worthless. Should the day ever come to place before the world the account of Our efforts, every honest mind will see on which side are to be found the promoters of peace, and on which side its disturbers. Whoever had left in his soul an atom of love for truth, and in his heart a shadow of a sense of justice, must admit that, in the course of these anxious and trying years following upon the conclusion of the concordat, every one of Our words, every one of Our acts, has been inspired by the binding law of treaties. At the same time, anyone must acknowledge, not without surprise and reprobation, how the other contracting party emasculated the terms of the treaty, distorted their meaning, and eventually considered its more or less official violation as a normal policy. The moderation We showed in spite of all this was not inspired by motives of worldly interest, still less by unwarranted weakness, but merely by Our anxiety not to draw out the wheat with the cockle; not to pronounce open judgment, before the public was ready to see its force; not to impeach other people's honesty, before the evidence of events should have torn the mask off the systematic hostility leveled at the Church. Even now that a campaign against the confessional schools, which are guaranteed by the concordat, and the destruction of free election, where Catholics have a right to their children's Catholic education, afford evidence, in a matter so essential to the life of the Church, of the extreme gravity of the situation and the anxiety of every Christian conscience; even now Our responsibility for Christian souls induces Us not to overlook the last possibilities, however slight, of a return to fidelity to treaties, and to any arrangement that may be acceptable to the episcopate. We shall continue without failing, to stand before the rulers of your people as the defender of violated rights, and in obedience to Our Conscience and Our pastoral mission, whether We be successful or not, to oppose the policy which seeks, by open or secret means, to strangle rights guaranteed by a treaty.
6. Different, however, Venerable Brethren, is the purpose of this letter. As you affectionately visited Us in Our illness, so also We turn to you, and through you, the German Catholics, who, like all suffering and afflicted children, are nearer to their Father's heart. At a time when your faith, like gold, is being tested in the fire of tribulation and persecution, when your religious freedom is beset on all sides, when the lack of religious teaching and of normal defense is heavily weighing on you, you have every right to words of truth and spiritual comfort from him whose first predecessor heard these words from the Lord: "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren" (Luke xxii. 32).
7. Take care, Venerable Brethren, that above all, faith in God, the first and irreplaceable foundation of all religion, be preserved in Germany pure and unstained. The believer in God is not he who utters the name in his speech, but he for whom this sacred word stands for a true and worthy concept of the Divinity. Whoever identifies, by pantheistic confusion, God and the universe, by either lowering God to the dimensions of the world, or raising the world to the dimensions of God, is not a believer in God. Whoever follows that so-called pre-Christian Germanic conception of substituting a dark and impersonal destiny for the personal God, denies thereby the Wisdom and Providence of God who "Reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly" (Wisdom viii. 1). Neither is he a believer in God.
8. Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community -- however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things -- whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.
9. Beware, Venerable Brethren, of that growing abuse, in speech as in writing, of the name of God as though it were a meaningless label, to be affixed to any creation, more or less arbitrary, of human speculation. Use your influence on the Faithful, that they refuse to yield to this aberration. Our God is the Personal God, supernatural, omnipotent, infinitely perfect, one in the Trinity of Persons, tri-personal in the unity of divine essence, the Creator of all existence. Lord, King and ultimate Consummator of the history of the world, who will not, and cannot, tolerate a rival God by His side.
10. This God, this Sovereign Master, has issued commandments whose value is independent of time and space, country and race. As God's sun shines on every human face so His law knows neither privilege nor exception. Rulers and subjects, crowned and uncrowned, rich and poor are equally subject to His word. From the fullness of the Creators' right there naturally arises the fullness of His right to be obeyed by individuals and communities, whoever they are. This obedience permeates all branches of activity in which moral values claim harmony with the law of God, and pervades all integration of the ever-changing laws of man into the immutable laws of God.
11. None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations before whose immensity they are "as a drop of a bucket" (Isaiah xI, 15).
12. The Bishops of the Church of Christ, "ordained in the things that appertain to God (Heb. v, 1) must watch that pernicious errors of this sort, and consequent practices more pernicious still, shall not gain a footing among their flock. It is part of their sacred obligations to do whatever is in their power to enforce respect for, and obedience to, the commandments of God, as these are the necessary foundation of all private life and public morality; to see that the rights of His Divine Majesty, His name and His word be not profaned; to put a stop to the blasphemies, which, in words and pictures, are multiplying like the sands of the desert; to encounter the obstinacy and provocations of those who deny, despise and hate God, by the never-failing reparatory prayers of the Faithful, hourly rising like incense to the All-Highest and staying His vengeance.
13. We thank you, Venerable Brethren, your priests and Faithful, who have persisted in their Christian duty and in the defense of God's rights in the teeth of an aggressive paganism. Our gratitude, warmer still and admiring, goes out to those who, in fulfillment of their duty, have been deemed worthy of sacrifice and suffering for the love of God.
14. No faith in God can for long survive pure and unalloyed without the support of faith in Christ. "No one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father: and who the Father is, but the Son and to whom the Son will reveal Him" (Luke x. 22). "Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent" (John xvii. 3). Nobody, therefore, can say: "I believe in God, and that is enough religion for me," for the Savior's words brook no evasion: "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son hath the Father also" (1 John ii. 23).
15. In Jesus Christ, Son of God made Man, there shone the plentitude of divine revelation. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son" (Heb. i. 1). The sacred books of the Old Testament are exclusively the word of God, and constitute a substantial part of his revelation; they are penetrated by a subdued light, harmonizing with the slow development of revelation, the dawn of the bright day of the redemption. As should be expected in historical and didactic books, they reflect in many particulars the imperfection, the weakness and sinfulness of man. But side by side with innumerable touches of greatness and nobleness, they also record the story of the chosen people, bearers of the Revelation and the Promise, repeatedly straying from God and turning to the world. Eyes not blinded by prejudice or passion will see in this prevarication, as reported by the Biblical history, the luminous splendor of the divine light revealing the saving plan which finally triumphs over every fault and sin. It is precisely in the twilight of this background that one perceives the striking perspective of the divine tutorship of salvation, as it warms, admonishes, strikes, raises and beautifies its elect. Nothing but ignorance and pride could blind one to the treasures hoarded in the Old Testament.
16. Whoever wishes to see banished from church and school the Biblical history and the wise doctrines of the Old Testament, blasphemes the name of God, blasphemes the Almighty's plan of salvation, and makes limited and narrow human thought the judge of God's designs over the history of the world: he denies his faith in the true Christ, such as He appeared in the flesh, the Christ who took His human nature from a people that was to crucify Him; and he understands nothing of that universal tragedy of the Son of God who to His torturer's sacrilege opposed the divine and priestly sacrifice of His redeeming death, and made the new alliance the goal of the old alliance, its realization and its crown.
17. The peak of the revelation as reached in the Gospel of Christ is final and permanent. It knows no retouches by human hand; it admits no substitutes or arbitrary alternatives such as certain leaders pretend to draw from the so-called myth of race and blood. Since Christ, the Lord's Anointed, finished the task of Redemption, and by breaking up the reign of sin deserved for us the grace of being the children God, since that day no other name under heaven has been given to men, whereby we must be saved (Acts iv. 12). No man, were every science, power and worldly strength incarnated in him, can lay any other foundation but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. iii 11). Should any man dare, in sacrilegious disregard of the essential differences between God and His creature, between the God-man and the children of man, to place a mortal, were he the greatest of all times, by the side of, or over, or against, Christ, he would deserve to be called prophet of nothingness, to whom the terrifying words of Scripture would be applicable: "He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them" (Psalms ii. 3).
18. Faith in Christ cannot maintain itself pure and unalloyed without the support of faith in the Church, "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. iii. 15); for Christ Himself, God eternally blessed, raised this pillar of the Faith. His command tO hear the Church (Matt. xviii. 15), to welcome in the words and commands of the Church His own words and His own commands (Luke x. 16), is addressed to all men, of all times and of all countries. The Church founded by the Redeemer is one, the same for all races and all nations. Beneath her dome, as beneath the vault of heaven, there is but one country for all nations and tongues; there is room for the development of every quality, advantage, task and vocation which God the Creator and Savior has allotted to individuals as well as to ethnical communities. The Church's maternal heart is big enough to see in the God-appointed development of individual characteristics and gifts, more than a mere danger of divergency. She rejoices at the spiritual superiorities among individuals and nations. In their successes she sees with maternal joy and pride fruits of education and progress, which she can only bless and encourage, whenever she can conscientiously do so. But she also knows that tO this freedom limits have been set by the majesty of the divine command, which founded that Church one and indivisible. Whoever tampers with that unity and that indivisibility wrenches from the Spouse of Christ one of the diadems with which God Himself crowned her; he subjects a divine structure, which stands on eternal foundations, tO criticism and transformation by architects whom the Father of Heaven never authorized to interfere.
19. The Church, whose work lies among men and operates through men, may see her divine mission obscured by human, too human, combination, persistently growing and developing like the cockle among the wheat of the Kingdom of God. Those who know the Savior's words on scandal and the giver of scandals, know, too, the judgment which the Church and all her sons must pronounce on what was and what is sin. But if, besides these reprehensible discrepancies be between faith and life, acts and words, exterior conduct and interior feelings, however numerous they be, anyone overlooks the overwhelming sum of authentic virtues, of spirit of sacrifice, fraternal love, heroic efforts of sanctity, he gives evidence of deplorable blindness and injustice. If later he forgets to apply the standard of severity, by which he measures the Church he hates, to other organizations in which he happens to be interested, then his appeal to an offended sense of purity identifies him with those who, for seeing the mote in their brother's eye, according to the Savior's incisive words, cannot see the beam in their own. But however suspicious the intention of those who make it their task, nay their vile profession, to scrutinize what is human in the Church, and although the priestly powers conferred by God are independent of the priest's human value, it yet remains true that at no moment of history, no individual, in no organization can dispense himself from the duty of loyally examining his conscience, of mercilessly purifying himself, and energetically renewing himself in spirit and in action. In Our Encyclical on the priesthood We have urged attention to the sacred duty of all those who belong to the Church, chiefly the members of the priestly and religious profession and of the lay apostolate, to square their faith and their conduct with the claims of the law of God and of the Church. And today we again repeat with all the insistency We can command: it is not enough to be a member of the Church of Christ, one needs to be a living member, in spirit and in truth, i.e., living in the state of grace and in the presence of God, either in innocence or in sincere repentance. If the Apostle of the nations, the vase of election, chastised his body and brought it into subjection: lest perhaps, when he had preached to others, he himself should become a castaway (1 Cor. ix. 27), could anybody responsible for the extension of the Kingdom of God claim any other method but personal sanctification? Only thus can we show to the present generation, and to the critics of the Church that "the salt of the earth," the leaven of Christianity has not decayed, but is ready to give the men of today -- prisoners of doubt and error, victims of indifference, tired of their Faith and straying from God -- the spiritual renewal they so much need. A Christianity which keeps a grip on itself, refuses every compromise with the world, takes the commands of God and the Church seriously, preserves its love of God and of men in all its freshness, such a Christianity can be, and will be, a model and a guide to a world which is sick to death and clamors for directions, unless it be condemned to a catastrophe that would baffle the imagination.
20. Every true and lasting reform has ultimately sprung from the sanctity of men who were driven by the love of God and of men. Generous, ready to stand to attention to any call from God, yet confident in themselves because confident in their vocation, they grew to the size of beacons and reformers. On the other hand, any reformatory zeal, which instead of springing from personal purity, flashes out of passion, has produced unrest instead of light, destruction instead of construction, and more than once set up evils worse than those it was out to remedy. No doubt "the Spirit breatheth where he will" (John iii. 8): "of stones He is able to raise men to prepare the way to his designs" (Matt. iii. 9). He chooses the instruments of His will according to His own plans, not those of men. But the Founder of the Church, who breathed her into existence at Pentecost, cannot disown the foundations as He laid them. Whoever is moved by the spirit of God, spontaneously adopts both outwardly and inwardly, the true attitude toward the Church, this sacred fruit from the tree of the cross, this gift from the Spirit of God, bestowed on Pentecost day to an erratic world.
21. In your country, Venerable Brethren, voices are swelling into a chorus urging people to leave the Church, and among the leaders there is more than one whose official position is intended to create the impression that this infidelity to Christ the King constitutes a signal and meritorious act of loyalty to the modern State. Secret and open measures of intimidation, the threat of economic and civic disabilities, bear on the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic functionaries, a pressure which violates every human right and dignity. Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism. If the oppressor offers one the Judas bargain of apostasy he can only, at the cost of every worldly sacrifice, answer with Our Lord: "Begone, Satan! For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matt. iv. 10). And turning to the Church, he shall say: "Thou, my mother since my infancy, the solace of my life and advocate at my death, may my tongue cleave to my palate if, yielding to worldly promises or threats, I betray the vows of my baptism." As to those who imagine that they can reconcile exterior infidelity tO one and the same Church, let them hear Our Lord's warning: -- "He that shall deny me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke xii. 9).
22. Faith in the Church cannot stand pure and true without the support of faith in the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. The same moment when Peter, in the presence of all the Apostles and disciples, confesses his faith in Christ, Son of the Living God, the answer he received in reward for his faith and his confession was the word that built the Church, the only Church of Christ, on the rock of Peter (Matt. xvi. 18). Thus was sealed the connection between the faith in Christ, the Church and the Primacy. True and lawful authority is invariably a bond of unity, a source of strength, a guarantee against division and ruin, a pledge for the future: and this is verified in the deepest and sublimest sense, when that authority, as in the case of the Church, and the Church alone, is sealed by the promise and the guidance of the Holy Ghost and His irresistible support. Should men, who are not even united by faith in Christ, come and offer you the seduction of a national German Church, be convinced that it is nothing but a denial of the one Church of Christ and the evident betrayal of that universal evangelical mission, for which a world Church alone is qualified and competent. The live history of other national churches with their paralysis, their domestication and subjection to worldly powers, is sufficient evidence of the sterility to which is condemned every branch that is severed from the trunk of the living Church. Whoever counters these erroneous developments with an uncompromising No from the very outset, not only serves the purity of his faith in Christ, but also the welfare and the vitality of his own people.
23. You will need to watch carefully, Venerable Brethren, that religious fundamental concepts be not emptied of their content and distorted to profane use. "Revelation" in its Christian sense, means the word of God addressed to man. The use of this word for the "suggestions" of race and blood, for the irradiations of a people's history, is mere equivocation. False coins of this sort do not deserve Christian currency. "Faith" consists in holding as true what God has revealed and proposes through His Church to man's acceptance. It is "the evidence of things that appear not" (Heb. ii. 1). The joyful and proud confidence in the future of one's people, instinct in every heart, is quite a different thing from faith in a religious sense. To substitute the one for the other, and demand on the strength of this, to be numbered among the faithful followers of Christ, is a senseless play on words, if it does not conceal a confusion of concepts, or worse.
24. "Immortality" in a Christian sense means the survival of man after his terrestrial death, for the purpose of eternal reward or punishment. Whoever only means by the term, the collective survival here on earth of his people for an indefinite length of time, distorts one of the fundamental notions of the Christian Faith and tampers with the very foundations of the religious concept of the universe, which requires a moral order.
25. "Original sin" is the hereditary but impersonal fault of Adam's descendants, who have sinned in him (Rom. v. 12). It is the loss of grace, and therefore of eternal life, together with a propensity to evil, which everybody must, with the assistance of grace, penance, resistance and moral effort, repress and conquer. The passion and death of the Son of God has redeemed the world from the hereditary curse of sin and death. Faith in these truths, which in your country are today the butt of the cheap derision of Christ's enemies, belongs to the inalienable treasury of Christian revelation.
26. The cross of Christ, though it has become to many a stumbling block and foolishness (1 Cor. i. 23) remains for the believer the holy sign of his redemption, the emblem of moral strength and greatness. We live in its shadow and die in its embrace. It will stand on our grave as a pledge of our faith and our hope in the eternal light.
27. Humility in the spirit of the Gospel and prayer for the assistance of grace are perfectly compatible with self-confidence and heroism. The Church of Christ, which throughout the ages and to the present day numbers more confessors and voluntary martyrs than any other moral collectivity, needs lessons from no one in heroism of feeling and action. The odious pride of reformers only covers itself with ridicule when it rails at Christian humility as though it were but a cowardly pose of self-degradation.
28. "Grace," in a wide sense, may stand for any of the Creator's gifts to His creature; but in its Christian designation, it means all the supernatural tokens of God's love; God's intervention which raises man to that intimate communion of life with Himself, called by the Gospel "adoption of the children of God." "Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God" (1 John iii. 1). To discard this gratuitous and free elevation in the name of a so-called German type amounts to repudiating openly a fundamental truth of Christianity. It would be an abuse of our religious vocabulary to place on the same level supernatural grace and natural gifts. Pastors and guardians of the people of God will do well to resist this plunder of sacred things and this confusion of ideas.
29. It is on faith in God, preserved pure and stainless, that man's morality is based. All efforts to remove from under morality and the moral order the granite foundation of faith and to substitute for it the shifting sands of human regulations, sooner or later lead these individuals or societies to moral degradation. The fool who has said in his heart "there is no God" goes straight to moral corruption (Psalms xiii. 1), and the number of these fools who today are out to sever morality from religion, is legion. They either do not see or refuse to see that the banishment of confessional Christianity, i.e., the clear and precise notion of Christianity, from teaching and education, from the organization of social and political life, spells spiritual spoliation and degradation. No coercive power of the State, no purely human ideal, however noble and lofty it be, will ever be able to make shift of the supreme and decisive impulses generated by faith in God and Christ. If the man, who is called to the hard sacrifice of his own ego to the common good, loses the support of the eternal and the divine, that comforting and consoling faith in a God who rewards all good and punishes all evil, then the result of the majority will be, not the acceptance, but the refusal of their duty. The conscientious observation of the ten commandments of God and the precepts of the Church (which are nothing but practical specifications of rules of the Gospels) is for every one an unrivaled school of personal discipline, moral education and formation of character, a school that is exacting, but not to excess. A merciful God, who as Legislator, says -- Thou must! -- also gives by His grace the power to will and to do. To let forces of moral formation of such efficacy lie fallow, or to exclude them positively from public education, would spell religious under-feeding of a nation. To hand over the moral law to man's subjective opinion, which changes with the times, instead of anchoring it in the holy will of the eternal God and His commandments, is to open wide every door to the forces of destruction. The resulting dereliction of the eternal principles of an objective morality, which educates conscience and ennobles every department and organization of life, is a sin against the destiny of a nation, a sin whose bitter fruit will poison future generations.
30. Such is the rush of present-day life that it severs from the divine foundation of Revelation, not only morality, but also the theoretical and practical rights. We are especially referring to what is called the natural law, written by the Creator's hand on the tablet of the heart (Rom. ii. 14) and which reason, not blinded by sin or passion, can easily read. It is in the light of the commands of this natural law, that all positive law, whoever be the lawgiver, can be gauged in its moral content, and hence, in the authority it wields over conscience. Human laws in flagrant contradiction with the natural law are vitiated with a taint which no force, no power can mend. In the light of this principle one must judge the axiom, that "right is common utility," a proposition which may be given a correct significance, it means that what is morally indefensible, can never contribute to the good of the people. But ancient paganism acknowledged that the axiom, to be entirely true, must be reversed and be made to say: "Nothing can be useful, if it is not at the same time morally good" (Cicero, De Off. ii. 30). Emancipated from this oral rule, the principle would in international law carry a perpetual state of war between nations; for it ignores in national life, by confusion of right and utility, the basic fact that man as a person possesses rights he holds from God, and which any collectivity must protect against denial, suppression or neglect. To overlook this truth is to forget that the real common good ultimately takes its measure from man's nature, which balances personal rights and social obligations, and from the purpose of society, established for the benefit of human nature. Society, was intended by the Creator for the full development of individual possibilities, and for the social benefits, which by a give and take process, every one can claim for his own sake and that of others. Higher and more general values, which collectivity alone can provide, also derive from the Creator for the good of man, and for the full development, natural and supernatural, and the realization of his perfection. To neglect this order is to shake the pillars on which society rests, and to compromise social tranquillity, security and existence.
31. The believer has an absolute right to profess his Faith and live according to its dictates. Laws which impede this profession and practice of Faith are against natural law.
Parents who are earnest and conscious of their educative duties, have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school questions fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law, and are immoral. The Church, whose mission it is to preserve and explain the natural law, as it is divine in its origin, cannot but declare that the recent enrollment into schools organized without a semblance of freedom, is the result of unjust pressure, and is a violation of every common right.
32. As the Vicar of Him who said to the young man of the Gospel: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. xix. 17), We address a few paternal words to the young.
33. Thousands of voices ring into your ears a Gospel which has not been revealed by the Father of Heaven. Thousands of pens are wielded in the service of a Christianity, which is not of Christ. Press and wireless daily force on you productions hostile to the Faith and to the Church, impudently aggressive against whatever you should hold venerable and sacred. Many of you, clinging to your Faith and to your Church, as a result of your affiliation with religious associations guaranteed by the concordat, have often to face the tragic trial of seeing your loyalty to your country misunderstood, suspected, or even denied, and of being hurt in your professional and social life. We are well aware that there is many a humble soldier of Christ in your ranks, who with torn feelings, but a determined heart, accepts his fate, finding his one consolation in the thought of suffering insults for the name of Jesus (Acts v. 41). Today,
as We see you threatened with new dangers and new molestations, We say to you: If any one should preach to you a Gospel other than the one you received on the knees of a pious mother, from the lips of a believing father, or through teaching faithful to God and His Church, "let him be anathema" (Gal. i. 9). If the State organizes a national youth, and makes this organization obligatory to all, then, without prejudice to rights of religious associations, it is the absolute right of youths as well as of parents to see to it that this organization is purged of all manifestations hostile to the Church and Christianity. These manifestations are even today placing Christian parents in a painful alternative, as they cannot give to the State what they owe to God alone.
34. No one would think of preventing young Germans establishing a true ethnical community in a noble love of freedom and loyalty to their country. What We object to is the voluntary and systematic antagonism raised between national education and religious duty. That is why we tell the young: Sing your hymns to freedom, but do not forget the freedom of the children of God. Do not drag the nobility of that freedom in the mud of sin and sensuality. He who sings hymns of loyalty to this terrestrial country should not, for that reason, become unfaithful to God and His Church, or a deserter and traitor to His heavenly country. You are often told about heroic greatness, in Iying opposition to evangelical humility and patience. Why conceal the fact that there are heroisms in moral life? That the preservation of baptismal innocence is an act of heroism which deserves credit? You are often told about the human deficiencies which mar the history of the Church: why ignore the exploits which fill her history, the saints she begot, the blessing that came upon Western civilization from the union between that Church and your people? You are told about sports. Indulged in with moderation and within limits, physical education is a boon for youth. But so much time is now devoted to sporting activities, that the harmonious development of body and mind is disregarded, that duties to one's family, and the observation of the Lord's Day are neglected. With an indifference bordering on contempt the day of the Lord is divested of its sacred character, against the best of German traditions. But We expect the Catholic youth, in the more favorable organizations of the State, to uphold its right tO a Christian sanctification of the Sunday, not tO exercise the body at the expense of the immortal soul, not to be overcome by evil, but to aim at the triumph of good over evil (Rom. xii. 21) as its highest achievement will be the gaining of the crown in the stadium of eternal life (1 Cor. ix. 24).
35. We address a special word of congratulation, encouragement and exhortation to the priests of Germany, who, in difficult times and delicate situations, have, under the direction of their Bishops, to guide the flocks of Christ along the straight road, by word and example, by their daily devotion and apostolic patience. Beloved sons, who participate with Us in the sacred mysteries, never tire of exercising, after the Sovereign and eternal Priest, Jesus Christ, the charity and solicitude of the Good Samaritan. Let your daily conduct remain stainless before God and the incessant pursuit of your perfection and sanctification, in merciful charity towards all those who are confided to your care, especially those who are more exposed, who are weak and stumbling. Be the guides of the faithful, the support of those who fail, the doctors of the doubting, the consolers of the afflicted, the disinterested counselors and assistants of all. The trials and sufferings which your people have undergone in post-War days have not passed over its soul without leaving painful marks. They have left bitterness and anxiety which are slow to cure, except by charity. This charity is the apostle's indispensable weapon, in a world torn by hatred. It will make you forget, or at least forgive, many an undeserved insult now more frequent than ever.
36. This charity, intelligent and sympathetic towards those even who offend you, does by no means imply a renunciation of the right of proclaiming, vindicating and defending the truth and its implications. The priest's first loving gift to his neighbors is to serve truth and refute error in any of its forms. Failure on this score would be not only a betrayal of God and your vocation, but also an offense against the real welfare of your people and country. To all those who have kept their promised fidelity to their Bishops on the day of their ordination; to all those who in the exercise of their priestly function are called upon to suffer persecution; to all those imprisoned in jail and concentration camps, the Father of the Christian world sends his words of gratitude and commendation.
37. Our paternal gratitude also goes out to Religious and nuns, as well as Our sympathy for so many who, as a result of administrative measures hostile to Religious Orders, have been wrenched from the work of their vocation. If some have fallen and shown themselves unworthy of their vocation, their fault, which the Church punishes, in no way detracts from the merit of the immense majority, who, in voluntary abnegation and poverty, have tried to serve their God and their country. By their zeal, their fidelity, their virtue, their active charity, their devotion, the Orders devoted to the care of souls, the service of the sick and education, are greatly contributing to private and public welfare. No doubt better days will come to do them better justice than the present troublous times have done. We trust that the heads of religious communities will profit by their trials and difficulties tO renew their zeal, their spirit of prayer, the austerity of their lives and their perfect discipline, in order to draw down God's blessing upon their difficult work.
38. We visualize the immense multitudes of Our faithful children, Our sons and daughters, for whom the sufferings of the Church in Germany and their own have left intact their devotion to the cause of God, their tender love for the Father of Christendom, their obedience to their pastors, their joyous resolution to remain ever faithful, happen what may, to the sacred inheritance of their ancestors. To all of them We send Our paternal greetings. And first to the members of those religious associations which, bravely and at the cost of untold sacrifices, have remained faithful to Christ, and have stood by the rights which a solemn treaty had guaranteed to the Church and to themselves according to the rules of loyalty and good faith.
39. We address Our special greetings to the Catholic parents. Their rights and duties as educators, conferred on them by God, are at present the stake of a campaign pregnant with consequences. The Church cannot wait to deplore the devastation of its altars, the destruction of its temples, if an education, hostile to Christ, is to profane the temple of the child's soul consecrated by baptism, and extinguish the eternal light of the faith in Christ for the sake of counterfeit light alien to the Cross. Then the violation of temples is nigh, and it will be every one's duty to sever his responsibility from the opposite camp, and free his conscience from guilty cooperation with such corruption. The more the enemies attempt to disguise their designs, the more a distrustful vigilance will be needed, in the light of bitter experience. Religious lessons maintained for the sake of appearances, controlled by unauthorized men, within the frame of an educational system which systematically works against religion, do not justify a vote in favor of non-confessional schools. We know, dear Catholic parents, that your vote was not free, for a free and secret vote would have meant the triumph of the Catholic schools. Therefore, we shall never cease frankly to represent to the responsible authorities the iniquity of the pressure brought to bear on you and the duty of respecting the freedom of education. Yet do not forget this: none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. None of your oppressors, who pretend to relieve you of your duties can answer for you to the eternal Judge, when he will ask: "Where are those I confided to you?" May every one of you be able to answer: "Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one" (John xviii. 9).
40. Venerable Brethren, We are convinced that the words which in this solemn moment We address to you, and to the Catholics of the German Empire, will find in the hearts and in the acts of Our Faithful, the echo responding to the solicitude of the common Father. If there is one thing We implore the Lord to grant, it is this, that Our words may reach the ears and the hearts of those who have begun to yield to the threats and enticements of the enemies of Christ and His Church.
41. We have weighed every word of this letter in the balance of truth and love. We wished neither to be an accomplice to equivocation by an untimely silence, nor by excessive severity to harden the hearts of those who live under Our pastoral responsibility; for Our pastoral love pursues them none the less for all their infidelity. Should those who are trying to adapt their mentality to their new surroundings, have for the paternal home they have left and for the Father Himself, nothing but words of distrust, in gratitude or insult, should they even forget whatever they forsook, the day will come when their anguish will fall on the children they have lost, when nostalgia will bring them back to "God
who was the joy of their youth," to the Church whose paternal hand has directed them on the road that leads to the Father of Heaven.
42. Like other periods of the history of the Church, the present has ushered in a new ascension of interior purification, on the sole condition that the faithful show themselves proud enough in the confession of their faith in Christ, generous enough in suffering to face the oppressors of the Church with the strength of their faith and charity. May the holy time of Lent and Easter, which preaches interior renovation and penance, turn Christian eyes towards the Cross and the risen Christ; be for all of you the joyful occasion that will fill your souls with heroism, patience and victory. Then We are sure, the enemies of the Church, who think that their time has come, will see that their joy was premature, and that they may close the grave they had dug. The day will come when the Te Deum of liberation will succeed to the premature hymns of the enemies of Christ: Te Deum of triumph and joy and gratitude, as the German people return to religion, bend the knee before Christ, and arming themselves against the enemies of God, again resume the task God has laid upon them.
43. He who searches the hearts and reins (Psalm vii. 10) is Our witness that We have no greater desire than to see in Germany the restoration of a true peace between Church and State. But if, without any fault of Ours, this peace is not to come, then the Church of God will defend her rights and her freedom in the name of the Almighty whose arm has not shortened. Trusting in Him, "We cease not to pray and to beg" (Col. i. 9) for you, children of the Church, that the days of tribulation may end and that you may be found faithful in the day of judgment; for the persecutors and oppressors, that the Father of light and mercy may enlighten them as He enlightened Saul on the road of Damascus. With this prayer in Our heart and on Our lips We grant to you, as a pledge of Divine help, as a support in your difficult resolutions, as a comfort in the struggle, as a consolation in all trials, to You, Bishops and Pastors of the Faithful, priests, Religious, lay apostles of Catholic Action, to all your diocesans, and specially to the sick and the prisoners, in paternal love, Our Apostolic Benediction.
Given at the Vatican on Passion Sunday, March 14, 1937.
|April 29th, 2009||#3|
The fact that, above all in Pius XI, Bolshevism and Nazism were increasingly condemned, marked a theological-pastoral change more than a political-diplomatic one. The priority was no longer to present a united front against Bolshevism (and in fact the Holy See’s policies were accused of weakening the anti-Bolshevik front). These were no longer Pius XI’s motivations. He began to perceive a different relationship between politics and religion; a sort of anti-idolatrous urgency that became a priority, that had to be more important than any other consideration or political opportunity, in spite of the all-but-secondary issue of defending against Bolshevism. Hence the merits of National Socialism on this front were no longer in any way a justification. This was the reason for which there were indications that the Vatican no longer wished to move a political attack but rather a religious one. This fact was often emphasised by Pius XI and was to be at the centre of another great and important occasion for expressing condemnation. The speech dated Christmas 1937, should not be understood as a diminutio, but instead became, in the Pope’s spirit, a reinforcment of this condemnation. All in all, the encyclical against communism entitled Divini redemptoris, promulgated during the same period, in which communism was considered intrinsically perverse, with no chance of redemption, an “absolute evil”, remains however a more cerebral encyclical. It is apparently harsher, but also more doctrinal, less impassioned and vibrant.
Communism threatens the church through coercion but Nazism threatens the church through appeal. That's why the priests merely point out where communism is wrong but they burst into flame when it comes to Nazis.
|April 12th, 2012||#5|
Join Date: Mar 2012
|June 26th, 2012||#6|
Join Date: Mar 2007
|February 18th, 2013||#7|
Join Date: Feb 2013
I won't post the whole thing, but only the pertinent sections:
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII
ON THE UNITY OF HUMAN SOCIETY
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN: THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHIOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE
34. Among the many errors which derive from the poisoned source of religious and moral agnosticism, We would draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to two in particular, as being those which more than others render almost impossible or at least precarious and uncertain, the peaceful intercourse of peoples.
35. The first of these pernicious errors, widespread today, is the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.
36. In fact, the first page of the Scripture, with magnificent simplicity, tells us how God, as a culmination to His creative work, made man to His Own image and likeness (cf. Genesis i. 26, 27); and the same Scripture tells us that He enriched man with supernatural gifts and privileges, and destined him to an eternal and ineffable happiness. It shows us besides how other men took their origin from the first couple, and then goes on, in unsurpassed vividness of language, to recount their division into different groups and their dispersion to various parts of the world. Even when they abandoned their Creator, God did not cease to regard them as His children, who, according to His merciful plan, should one day be reunited once more in His friendship (cf. Genesis xii. 3).
37. The Apostle of the Gentiles later on makes himself the herald of this truth which associates men as brothers in one great family, when he proclaims to the Greek world that God "hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God" (Acts xvii. 26, 27).
38. A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human race in the unity of one common origin in God "one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all" (Ephesians iv. 6); in the unity of nature which in every man is equally composed of material body and spiritual, immortal soul; in the unity of the immediate end and mission in the world; in the unity of dwelling place, the earth, of whose resources all men can by natural right avail themselves, to sustain and develop life; in the unity of the supernatural end, God Himself, to Whom all should tend; in the unity of means to secure that end.
39. It is the same Apostle who portrays for us mankind in the unity of its relations with the Son of God, image of the invisible God, in Whom all things have been created: "In Him were all things created" (Colossians i. 16); in the unity of its ransom, effected for all by Christ, Who, through His Holy and most bitter passion, restored the original friendship with God which had been broken, making Himself the Mediator between God and men: "For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy ii. 5).
40. And to render such friendship between God and mankind more intimate, this same Divine and universal Mediator of salvation and of peace, in the sacred silence of the Supper Room, before He consummated the Supreme Sacrifice, let fall from His divine Lips the words which reverberate mightily down the centuries, inspiring heroic charity in a world devoid of love and torn by hate: "This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you" (Saint John xv. 12).
41. These are supernatural truths which form a solid basis and the strongest possible bond of a union, that is reinforced by the love of God and of our Divine Redeemer, from Whom all receive salvation "for the edifying of the Body of Christ: until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians iv. 12, 13).
42. In the light of this unity of all mankind, which exists in law and in fact, individuals do not feel themselves isolated units, like grains of sand, but united by the very force of their nature and by their internal destiny, into an organic, harmonious mutual relationship which varies with the changing of times.
43. And the nations, despite a difference of development due to diverse conditions of life and of culture, are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather to enrich and embellish it by the sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by that reciprocal interchange of goods which can be possible and efficacious only when a mutual love and a lively sense of charity unite all the sons of the same Father and all those redeemed by the same Divine Blood.
44. The Church of Christ, the faithful depository of the teaching of Divine Wisdom, cannot and does not think of deprecating or disdaining the particular characteristics which each people, with jealous and intelligible pride, cherishes and retains as a precious heritage. Her aim is a supernatural union in all-embracing love, deeply felt and practiced, and not the unity which is exclusively external and superficial and by that very fact weak.
45. The Church hails with joy and follows with her maternal blessing every method of guidance and care which aims at a wise and orderly evolution of particular forces and tendencies having their origin in the individual character of each race, provided that they are not opposed to the duties incumbent on men from their unity of origin and common destiny.
46. She has repeatedly shown in her missionary enterprises that such a principle of action is the guiding star of her universal apostolate. Pioneer research and investigation, involving sacrifice, devotedness and love on the part of her missionaries of every age, have been undertaken in order to facilitate the deeper appreciative insight into the most varied civilizations and to put their spiritual values to account for a living and vital preaching of the Gospel of Christ. All that in such usages and customs is not inseparably bound up with religious errors will always be subject to kindly consideration and, when it is found possible, will be sponsored and developed.
47. Our immediate predecessor, of holy and venerated memory, applying such norms to a particularly delicate question, took some generous decisions which are a monument to his insight and to the intensity of his apostolic spirit. Nor need We tell you, Venerable Brethren, that We intend to proceed without hesitation along this way. Those who enter the Church, whatever be their origin or their speech, must know that they have equal rights as children in the House of the Lord, where the law of Christ and the peace of Christ prevail.
48. In accordance with these principles of equality, the Church devotes her care to forming cultured native clergy and gradually increasing the number of native Bishops. And in order to give external expression to these, Our intentions, We have chosen the forthcoming Feast of Christ the King to raise to the Episcopal dignity at the Tomb of the Apostles twelve representatives of widely different peoples and races. In the midst of the disruptive contrasts which divide the human family, may this solemn act proclaim to all Our sons, scattered over the world, that the spirit, the teaching and the work of the Church can never be other than that which the Apostle of the Gentiles preached: "putting on the new, (man) him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him. Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all and in all" (Colossians iii. 10, 11).
49. Nor is there any fear lest the consciousness of universal brotherhood aroused by the teaching of Christianity, and the spirit which it inspires, be in contrast with love of traditions or the glories of one's fatherland, or impede the progress of prosperity or legitimate interests. For that same Christianity teaches that in the exercise of charity we must follow a God-given order, yielding the place of honor in our affections and good works to those who are bound to us by special ties. Nay, the Divine Master Himself gave an example of this preference for His Own country and fatherland, as He wept over the coming destruction of the Holy City. But legitimate and well-ordered love of our native country should not make us close our eyes to the all-embracing nature of Christian Charity, which calls for consideration of others and of their interests in the pacifying light of love.
|February 18th, 2013||#8|
Join Date: Feb 2013
Here is a link to some sermons from Bishop von Galen:
We shall obey them in so far as they are entitled to give us orders as representatives of the lawful authorities. But it must be impossible for us to have a community of convictions, a sense of inner solidarity, with these persecutors of the Church, these invaders of religious houses, who expel defenceless women from their convents, the children of our best families, our sisters, many of whom have lived there for decades in work and prayer, doing nothing but good for our people. I should feel ashamed before God and before you, I should feel ashamed before our noble German forefathers, before my own late father, who was a chivalrous man and brought up, admonished and taught my brothers and me sternly to show the most delicate respect to every woman or girl, to afford chivalrous protection to all the unjustly oppressed, particularly to women as the images of our own mothers, and of the beloved Mother of God herself in heaven, if I had any community with those who drive innocent and defenceless women out of house and home and drive them out of their country without shelter and without resources! Moreover, as I showed last Sunday in St Lambert's church and as I must repeat today with great solemnity, in a warning inspired by love for my people and my country, that these punitive actions by the Gestapo against innocent people, without any judgment by a court or judicial proceedings or opportunity for defence — the “prosecution of accused persons who are condemned in advance and deprived of any means of defence”, in Reich minister Dr Frank's words — destroy men's security under the law, undermine faith in law and destroy confidence in the government of our country.
We Christians, of course, are not aiming at revolution. We shall continue loyally to do our duty in obedience to God and in love of our people and fatherland. Our soldiers will fight and die for Germany, but not for those men who by their cruel actions against our religious, against their brothers and sisters, wound our hearts and shame the German name before God and men. We shall continue to fight against the external enemy; but against the enemy within, who strikes us and torments us, we cannot fight with arms. Against him we have only one weapon: endurance — strong, tough, hard endurance.
Become hard! Remain firm! We see and experience clearly what lies behind the new doctrines which have for years been forced on us, for the sake of which religion has been banned from the schools, our organisations have been suppressed and now Catholic kindergartens are about to be abolished — there is a deep-seated hatred of Christianity, which they are determined to destroy. If I am correctly informed, the Schulungsleiter [head of indoctrination], Herr Schmidt, before an audience which had been invited by force and which included schoolboys and schoolgirls, expressed this quite frankly and district leader Mieling applauded him enthusiastically, expressing his intention to exert himself for the execution of such plans.
Become hard! Remain firm! At this moment we are the anvil rather than the hammer. Other men, mostly strangers and renegades, are hammering us, seeking by violent means to bend our nation, ourselves and our young people aside from their straight relationship with God. We are the anvil and not the hammer. But ask the blacksmith and hear what he says: the object which is forged on the anvil receives its form not alone from the hammer but also from the anvil. The anvil cannot and need not strike back: it must only be firm, only hard! If it is sufficiently tough and firm and hard the anvil usually lasts longer than the hammer. However hard the hammer strikes, the anvil stands quietly and firmly in place and will long continue to shape the objects forged upon it.
The anvil represents those who are unjustly imprisoned, those who are driven out and banished for no fault of their own. God will support them, that they may not lose the form and attitude of Christian firmness, when the hammer of persecution strikes its harsh blows and inflicts unmerited wounds on them.
It is our religious, the fathers, lay brothers and the sisters, who are now forged on the anvil. The day before yesterday I was able to visit some of those who had been driven out in their temporary accommodation and to speak with them. I was greatly edified and encouraged by the valiant bearing of the good men and the weak and defenceless women, who had been so ruthlessly torn from their convent, from the chapel, from the vicinity of the tabernacle, and who are now going into unjust banishment with their heads held high, in the consciousness of their innocence, trusting in Him who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field and even joyous in the joy which the Saviour enjoins on His disciples: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven." Verily, these men and women are masterpieces of God's forging.
What is being forged in these days between the hammer and the anvil are our young people — the new generation, which is still unformed, still capable of being shaped, still malleable. We cannot shield them from the hammer-blows of unbelief, of hostility to Christianity, of false doctrines and ethics. What is instilled into them at the meetings of those youth organisations, which we are told they joined voluntarily and with the agreement of their parents? What do they hear in the schools which the children are compelled to attend without regard to the wishes of their parents? What do they read in the new school-books? Christian parents, ask your children to show you these books, particularly the history books used in the secondary schools.
You will be appalled to see how these books, in complete disregard of historical truth, seek to fill inexperienced children with mistrust of Christianity and the Church, indeed with hatred of the Christian faith.
In the favoured state educational establishments, the Hitler schools, the new teachers' training schools, all Christian influence and even all religious activity are excluded as a matter of principle. And what is happening to the children who were sent last spring to remote parts of the country to escape the air-raids? What religious instruction are they getting? How far can they practice their religion? Christian parents, you must concern yourselves with all this. If you do not, you are neglecting your sacred duties; if you do not, you cannot face your own conscience, nor Him who entrusted the children to you that you might lead them on the way to heaven.
We are the anvil, not the hammer! Unfortunately you cannot shield your children, the noble but still untempered crude metal, from the hammer-blows of hostility to the faith and hostility to the Church. But the anvil also plays a part in forging. Let your family home, your parental love and devotion, your exemplary Christian life be the strong, tough, firm and unbreakable anvil which absorbs the force of the hostile blows, which continually strengthens and fortifies the still weak powers of the young in the sacred resolve not to let themselves be diverted from the direction that leads to God.
It is we, almost without exception, who are forged in this present time. How many people are dependent — on an occupational pension, on a state pension, on children's allowances and so on! Who nowadays is still independent, unrestricted master in his own property or business? It may be that, particularly in time of war, strict control and guidance, even the concentration and compulsory direction of products, of production and consumption, is necessary, and who will not readily bear this out of love for his people and his country? But through this follows dependence on many persons and authorities, who not only restrict freedom of action but also bring free independence of sentiments and convictions into grave danger and temptation, as soon as, at the same time, these persons and authorities represent an ideology hostile to Christianity, which they seek to impose on those who are dependent on them. Dependence of this kind is most evident in officials; and what courage, what heroic courage is required of those officials who in spite of all pressure maintain and publicly confess their faith as Christians, as true Catholics!
|February 18th, 2013||#9|
Join Date: Feb 2013
Here is an excerpt from the Hitler Youth Manual:
Even today, the racial ideas of National Socialism have implacable opponents. Free Masons, Marxists, and the Christian Church join hands in brotherly accord on this point. The worldwide order of Free Masons conceals its Jewish plans for ruling the world behind the catchword "Mankind" or "Humanity." Masonry can take much as credit for its effort to bring Jews and Turks into the fold, as does Christianity itself. Marxism has the same goal as Free Masonry. In this case, to disguise its real intentions the slogan "Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity" is preached. Under Jewish leadership, Marxism intends to bring together everyone "who bears the face of man."
The Christians, above all the Roman Church, reject the race idea with the citation "before God all men are equal." All who have the Christian belief, whether Jews, bush niggers, or whites are dearer to them and more worthwhile than a German who does not confess Christianity. The one binding bond, above and beyond all restrictions, is the Belief which alone brings salvation.
One proof that the Roman Church rejects the race idea against its own better judgment is shown by the following facts. At one time, there existed the danger that the aims of the Jesuit order would be jeopardized or perverted by its Jewish members. A rule forbidding admission of Jews into the Jesuit order was issued. Today, since the danger is long since past, the church disregards it.
Now why do we find in Free Masonry, Marxism, and the Christian church this mistaken teaching of the equality of all men? All three are striving more or less for power over the whole earth. Therefore, they must necessarily be "international." They can never acknowledge the human ties of race, community, or nation if they do not wish to give up their own aims.
In spite of this powerful opposition, however, the race idea goes on gaining ground. The truth gradually prevails. We need only think of the growing line up of states set for the defense against the destructive influence of the Jews. And also we need to remember that the immigration laws of many states overseas do not let jews or other undesirables into the country.
|February 18th, 2013||#10|
Join Date: Feb 2013
Here is an excerpt from Lothrop Stoddard's account of Nazi Germany, Into the Darkness:
Hitler Youth activities are _duties_ which must be complied with and with which no one may interfere. In the first years of the Nazi regime I am told that this sudden shift of youthful loyalties provoked frequent domestic conflicts and caused many personal tragedies. Great numbers of non-Nazi parents were recalcitrant at seeing their children placed in an atmosphere which sapped their authority and tended to make boys and girls flout the teachings of their elders. The traditional German family is patriarchal, and many fathers objected to the claims of the Youth Home on personal grounds even when they had no strong objections to the Nazi regime as such. In many cases, this conflict of loyalties went so far that boys and girls denounced their own parents to the authorities for what the children had been taught to consider unpatriotic speech or conduct.
Today, I understand that such extreme conflicts are rare. The Nazi regime broke parental resistance as systematically as it did opposition of every kind; so the most rebellious fathers and mothers have been weeded out by concentration camps or lesser penalties. The average parent now accepts the situation as inevitable, even if he or she does not at heart wholly approve. Indeed, I was told by foreign observers that a large proportion of German parents, including of course all Party members, now assent willingly to an institution which teaches their children good personal habits, promotes their health, and brightens their young lives in many ways.
Far more serious has been the conflict with the churches. Both the Protestant and Roman Catholic confessions possessed strong youth organizations. The Nazi Government, in accordance with its policy of all-round co-ordination, insisted that these confessional groups be merged in the Hitler Youth. This raised a storm of protest from pious church folk, who deemed the Youth Homes, with their absence of denominational teaching, little short of godless, while priests and pastors encouraged and backed the protests of their parishioners. Here, again, very many distressing incidents took place. Protestant opposition has apparently lessened with the years, though a recalcitrant minority still exists. The Roman Church, however, has maintained its traditional objection to membership of its young people in non-Catholic organizations. This is one of the main reasons for the deep-going conflict between the Roman Church and the Nazi State which has existed from the start and which is by no means settled.
The uncompromising Nazi attitude is set forth in the following official statement: "The socialist conception of the Third Reich demands of each individual the unconditional subordination of his individual being to the socialist expression of his people. This socialist existence has one form of expression as far as the youth of Germany is concerned: namely, the Hitler Youth. Every youth association outside the Hitler Youth transgresses against the spirit of the community which is the spirit of the State."
That policy has been carried out by a combination of legal action and official pressure which most Roman Catholic parents have been unable to resist. The result has been the liquidation not only of the Catholic youth organizations but of most of the parochial schools as well. But I was told that a vast deal of suppressed heartburning persists.
The impasse between the government and the church is inherently the most serious in German life today. It cuts very deep, involving as it does a clash between two sharply contrasted ideals. It far transcends ordinary policies. Among extremists in both camps it arouses intense emotion and provokes attitudes which seemingly cannot be reconciled.
Unfortunately I have little to say on this important subject, because I had neither the time nor the opportunity to investigate it properly. To be sure, I have read background literature, but to attempt a discussion of the problem on that alone would not fall within the purpose of this book.
|August 16th, 2013||#11|
Join Date: Mar 2008
The following text is an excerpt from Adolf Hitler’s speech to the Reichstag on January 30th, 1939 in which he responded to ongoing “atrocity propaganda” in the international media concerning alleged religious persecution of Christians and of the Christian Church in Germany. He set the record straight with regard to National Socialist Germany’s religious policy and its support for the Christian Church. He then rebuked the western democratic leaders for utter hypocrisy.
The full text of the speech is available from a variety of sources both in German and English, but only small segments of the audio can be found, and are of very poor quality, Thus, few are aware of this very important statement, so I have taken the liberty to narrate this excerpt and have posted it on YouTube (video above). No. This is not one of those fake “Hitler meltdown” video clips that many morons seem to find amusing. This is the real, highly intelligent, articulate statesman Adolf Hitler responding to a real and very serious international threat to the German nation.
[snip] …“At this moment, the Jews are still propagating their campaign of hatred in certain states under the cover of press, film, radio, theater, and literature, which are all in their hands. Should indeed this one Volk attain its goal of prodding masses of millions from other peoples to enter into a war devoid of all sense for them, and serving the interests of the Jews exclusively, then the effectiveness of an enlightenment will once more display its might.
Within Germany, this enlightenment conquered Jewry utterly in the span of a few years. Peoples desire not to perish on the battlefield just so that this rootless, internationalist race can profit financially from this war and thereby gratify its lust for vengeance derived from the Old Testament.
The Jewish watchword “Proletarians of the world, unite!” will be conquered by a far more lofty realization, namely: “Creative men of all nations, recognize your common foe!”
Among the reproaches which the so-called “democracies” have heaped on Germany has been the claim that National Socialist Germany is a state hostile to religion.
On this topic, I wish to make the following solemn declaration before the entire German Volk:
1. To date, no one has been persecuted because of his religious affinity in Germany, nor will anyone be persecuted for this reason in the future either.
2. Since January 30, 1933, the official institutions within the National Socialist State have transferred the following tax earnings to the two Churches:
130 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1933;
170 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1934;
250 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1935;
320 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1936;
400 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1937;
500 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1938.
In addition to this, the Church receives approximately 85 million Reichsmarks annually in the form of state subsidies, and approximately another seven million Reichsmarks in the form of subsidies by the local communities and associations.
Next to the State, the Church constitutes the greatest proprietor of land. It possesses holdings in real estate and forestry in excess of ten billion Reichsmarks. From these, it derives annual earnings of about 300 million.
Moreover, the Church benefits from countless gifts, bequests, and, above all, from donations collected. Further, the National Socialist State accords the Church concessions in a variety of realms: donations and inheritance are tax exempt for instance.
To make an understatement, therefore, it is with insolent impertinence that foreign politicians accuse the Third Reich of hostility to religion. Should the churches within Germany regard the situation as unbearable, then please bear in mind that the National Socialist State is willing, and prepared at any time, to undertake a clear separation of church and state, as is the case in France, America, and other countries.
In this context, I permit myself to pose the following question: Within this same period, how much did official state appropriations to the church amount to in France, England, and the America?
3. The National Socialist State has not closed even one single church, neither prevented church services nor infringed on the conduct of Mass. It has not imposed its views on any confession’s church doctrine and faith.
In the National Socialist State, everyone is free to find salvation in whichever way they choose. However, the National Socialist State will relentlessly deal with those priests who, instead of serving the Lord, see their mission in propagating derisive comments on our present Reich, its institutions, or its leading men. It will bring to their attention the fact that the destruction of this State will not be tolerated. The law will prosecute a priest who implicates himself in illegal activities and he will be held accountable for these in the same manner as any other, ordinary German citizen.
It must, however, be stated at this point that there are thousands upon thousands of priests of all Christian beliefs who attend to their clerical duties in a manner infinitely superior to these clerical warmongers and without entering into conflict with the established law and order.
To protect these is the mission of the State. To destroy the enemies of the State is the duty of the State.
4. The National Socialist State is neither prudish nor hypocritical. Still there are certain fundamental mores which must be upheld in the interest of preserving the biological health of the Volk. And we shall not allow these to be altered. This State prosecutes pederasty and child abuse as crimes to be punished by the law, irrespective of who perpetrates them.
Five years ago, when leading members of the National Socialist Party were guilty of these crimes, they were shot. Should other men perpetrate similar transgressions, whether in public, privately, or as members of the clergy, the law will duly prosecute them and sentence them to serve time.
Should men of the cloth perpetrate other transgressions, in violation of their avowal of chastity etc., then it is of no interest to us. There has been no mention of this in our press ever.
And besides this, this State has interfered only once in the inner organization of the churches, namely on the occasion when, in 1933, I myself attempted to reunite the impotent, fragmented Protestant State Churches of Germany in the form of a great and mighty Protestant Reich Church. This attempt ran aground on the opposition of individual State Bishops. And therefore I abandoned my efforts since, in the final instance, it is not our task to strengthen or to defend by force the Protestant Church against its own leaders.
The motivation behind certain statesmen in the democracies abroad taking such a vigorous interest in a few German priests is obviously political. For these very same democratic statesmen remained silent when in Russia hundreds of thousands of priests were hacked to pieces and their bodies burnt. These democratic statesmen remained equally silent at the brutal slaughter of priests and nuns in Spain, numbering in the tens of thousands, some of whom were even burnt alive.
These democratic statesmen could not deny these facts, but they remained silent and nothing broke this silence.
In the meantime, upon news of these massacres – and of this I must indeed remind these democratic statesmen – countless National Socialists and Fascist volunteers placed themselves at General Franco’s disposal.
They did so with the aim of precluding an escalation of the conflict, to prevent this Bolshevist bloodbath from enveloping all of Europe and hence the greater part of the civilized world. It was concern for European culture and the essence of civilization which led Germany to take sides in this struggle between Nationalist Spain and the Bolshevists who attempted to destroy it.
It is indeed a pitiful sign of the mentality abroad that people there cannot conceive of so selfless an intervention. Alas, National Socialists shared in General Franco’s uprising because of their burning desire to promote his cause: to avert the danger threatening to engulf his country, a danger Germany itself had almost succumbed to.
Therefore, it cannot be sympathy or pity for persecuted servants of God that has mobilized the interest of the democratic citizens in some priests in Germany who have come into conflict with the law. Rather these interest them as German enemies of the state.
May they note the following on this topic:
We shall protect the German priest as a servant of the Lord, but we shall destroy the priest who is a political foe of the German Reich. We believe this will preclude the development of a situation which, as the experience in Spain has demonstrated, could all too easily escalate into a confrontation of as yet unforeseeable proportions.
As a matter of principle, I should like to state the following on this subject: apparently, certain circles abroad are pervaded by the conviction that the outspoken avowal of sympathy for certain elements who have come into conflict with the law in Germany would bring about an improvement of their situation.
In this context, there is perhaps the hope of terrorizing the leadership of the German State by employing certain methods of exerting influence through the media. This assessment rests on a profound fallacy! For the credence lent to these individuals abroad, and hence implicitly to their anti-governmental activities, merely reassures us in our earlier conviction that the characters in question are in fact traitors!
After all, simple opposition to a regime has never elicited equal sympathy from these democracies abroad; and neither has the prosecution nor the sentencing of an individual in political opposition. For when was there ever a stronger opposition movement in Germany than the National Socialist one? Never were political adversaries suppressed by like base means, persecuted, and hunted as those of the National Socialist Party.
To us it is an honor never to have partaken in the sympathy and support extended by a foreign government. Evidently, such support is lent exclusively to those who aim to destroy the German Reich.
Hence, in our eyes, the display of such support would indicate the necessity to step up measures previously taken in any such case. ” [snip]
Here is one source for the full text, though there are others, an they may vary slightly
|July 19th, 2014||#12|
Join Date: Jan 2011
Mark Webber of Historical Review
Views on Race and Religion
"While he was critical of Christianity, Hitler was no atheist. "The religion of Hitlerism was thus essentially a kind of deism," concludes Birken. Like Thomas Jefferson and other prominent early American leaders, Hitler equated God with "the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe." Thus, "for Hitler, national socialism was natural socialism."
Institute for Historical Review - Mark Weber
Last edited by Gerry Fable; July 19th, 2014 at 06:16 PM. Reason: opps Weber not Webber!
|November 9th, 2015||#13|
Join Date: Jul 2014
Rethinking ‘Hitler’s Pope’
A Q&A With Mark Riebling
Announcements Book News Politics Religion Christianity War September 28, 2015
Mark Riebling has been an architect of post-9/11 “intelligence-driven policing,” co-founding and serving as research director for the Center for Policing Terrorism. He received his degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA. His latest book is Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler.
Harris: Previously, you’ve written about problems of intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism. What inspired you to write about the papacy in the Second World War?
Riebling: Well, I was raised Catholic, and one of the things I learned before I left the faith was that nuns could nail me if I said something heterodox, because they had an awesome system of informants! So I didn’t find it implausible, or uninteresting, when I later heard from one retired spy that the Vatican ran the world’s oldest and perhaps best intelligence service. Or when another retired spy told me that the Church was so skilled in clandestine operations that the NSA couldn’t crack the pope’s codes. And I like the challenge of writing secret histories of powerful institutions—maybe because my academic training is in philosophy, and I’m interested in how our background theories come to bear when the data are severely limited but the stakes are high. I’d like to think I write about these things as exercises in mindfulness, not unlike what philosophers from Epictetus to Foucault have recommended—a self-check of my own intellectual hygiene. Less abstractly, I just thought that much of what had been written about the wartime Church was crap!
Harris: There’s a large literature implicating the Catholic Church generally, and Pope Pius XII specifically, in Nazi atrocities. You argue that this literature needs adjustment, because the wartime pope actually conspired, you say, to remove Hitler and the Nazis. On what evidence do you rest your case, and how did you uncover it?
Riebling: The evidence case came first from critics of the Nazi-era Church—Daniel Goldhagen, James Carroll, and even John Cornwell, the author of Hitler’s Pope. They all conceded that Pius XII hated Hitler and worked secretly to overthrow him. Yet they said this in their books in just a clause, a sentence, or a paragraph. To me, this episode merited more curiosity. If “Hitler’s pope” tried to kill Hitler, what’s the story, and what does it say about how the world’s leading moral institution met the worst moral crisis in history? The big break in answering these questions came when I obtained the verbatim transcripts of secret papal audiences—transcripts that exist only because Vatican Jesuits secretly bugged those meetings.
Harris: The pope made secret tapes, like Richard Nixon?
Riebling: Yes. The Vatican had an advanced audio-surveillance system—Pius had it hardwired by the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi. These surveillance transcripts falsify a premise shared by most critics of Pius. Critics paint him as a great centralizer, who imposed Rome’s will on reluctant bishops. The primary evidence shows the reverse: Pius was a decentralizer, who followed rather than led his flock. Critically, in two March 1939 transcripts, four German cardinals ask Pius to appease Hitler so that German Catholics won’t break away and form a state church, as happened in Tudor England. Pius heeds the German episcopate’s advice. Instead of protesting openly, he will resist Hitler behind the scenes. Judging that he couldn’t lead a Church of saints, Pius settled for a Church of spies.
Harris: How did the Vatican spy against Hitler?
Riebling: Well, the March 9th discussion becomes really granular in terms of papal spycraft. The Holy Father explains how to skim Catholic charitable contributions to fund a clandestine courier network. He directs his operatives to use a certain hostel near a Munich train station. A cardinal cites a New Testament passage to justify deceiving the SS. One of the operatives in this papal underground is a Jewish lesbian who has converted to Catholicism; she later dies in a concentration camp. Another Vatican agent is a Bavarian book publisher, who flies reports on Nazi atrocities over the Alps in a single-seat sports plane; he later goes to the gallows. Along the way, this clandestine network—the SS code-named it “the Black Chapel”—becomes pivotal in plots to overthrow the Nazis.
Harris: What was the pope’s role in those plots?
Riebling: Well, without giving too many spoilers, Pius XII participated in three plots to kill Hitler. In all three, Pius held midnight meetings in the papal apartments with British diplomats, trying to bring off a coup in Berlin. But the first plot fizzled when German generals lost their nerve. The second failed when a bomb on Hitler’s plane froze at high altitude. The third wounded Hitler with plastic explosives, but unraveled because the plotters failed to cut communications between top Nazis. In the second and third plots, German Jesuits, reporting to the pope’s advisors, acted as political organizers and couriers. But through it all, Pius XII was almost the lone constant among the plotters—as their secret foreign agent for nearly six years.
Harris: I’m getting the uncomfortable feeling that I’ve been too hard on the Vatican for its conduct during the war. But you argue that this doesn’t get it off the hook, morally speaking.
Riebling: I don’t think it absolves either the Church as an institution or Catholics as a group. Perhaps counterintuitively, I think the pope’s secret war against Hitler shows just how much the Church and Catholics have to atone for. Because there’s a profound question raised by the heroism of covert resistance, and it’s one you discuss in a note in The End of Faith. One can always make the argument that covert resistance in particularly dangerous situations is the best possible course. You mention those who secretly helped Jews, and you say that they probably did more good by living and helping others in secret than by openly protesting the Nazis and dying on principle. But that was their situation only because so few people were willing to offer open opposition in the first place. That’s exactly my view, and my book, although written as a spy story, can be seen as a sermon on that bitter, deeper truth.
That so few were willing to offer overt resistance is an indictment of European culture; and one of the shaping influences of this culture was a Christian anti-Judaism going all the way back to the first century. It’s too narrow to say this is just Catholic; it’s Christian, it’s partly in the Gospels’ saying that the Old Covenant was broken, and, if anything, it intensified under Luther. That the Holocaust was initiated by a mostly Protestant nation is sometimes forgotten; that the Catholic Church, by virtue of its stronger institutional identity, did much more than the Protestants did to resist Hitler was revealed to the White House in many secret reports to Roosevelt.
Harris: But Hitler and other leading members of the SS were at least nominal Catholics. Why didn’t Pius XII excommunicate them?
Riebling: He could have, and should have. But he didn’t, for reasons that you can understand only if you think like a pope who feels responsible for guiding a billion souls to eternal life. That’s a heavy burden, and if you take it on, you have to weigh every pronouncement according to whether it serves or thwarts that aim. The last time the pope excommunicated a secular bully—Napoleon—Europeans laughed it out of court, and Napoleon turned it into a badge of honor, rather like Donald Trump getting attacked by the media. Napoleon’s prestige rose, the papacy’s fell, and millions of Catholic souls were diverted into damnation, in the Vatican’s view, because they lost access to the sacraments. Likewise, when Pope Paul VI condemned birth control, and First World Catholics ignored it, the papacy again lost prestige, and Catholics fled the Church in droves—many millions were that much closer to Hell. I think Pius XII felt he was in an impossible situation where he had to save Catholic souls at the expense of Jewish—and even Catholic—lives. And the only way out of that no-win situation was to cut the Gordian knot by killing Hitler.
Harris: But shouldn’t Pius have spoken out against the Holocaust? What do you think would have happened if he had protested publicly?
Riebling: Well, of course—he should have cried it from the mountaintop. But Hitler’s would-be killers asked him not to, fearing it would cause a crackdown on resistance elements. In fact, the last day during the war on which Pius publicly said “Jew”—October 20, 1939—is also the first day we can document his complicity in plots against Hitler. And later, you find British and US diplomats begging Pius not to denounce the genocide of the Jews, fearing this would also expose Soviet atrocities against the Poles. But perhaps most important, it’s wrong to say that gentiles were waiting to jump forward to save the Jews, and only papal silence held them back. As Pius himself put it, most Germans “believed in” Hitler.
Harris: Is it fair, then, to say that your research is both a defense of the pope and an indictment of the Church?
Riebling: I wouldn’t contest that, but I might rephrase it. Wrapped in a reconsideration of this one particular pope, there’s a critique of Catholics more generally. At its core, this critique questions what the secular-liberal narrative often presumes. Many educated people say: Personal mysticism is cool, but organized religion is just terrible! It’s a very Rousseauean kind of thing. In a democracy, the authorized discourse states that the people are good: Authority structures are the problem, and the people are the solution. Congressmen are wicked; voters are good. Bishops are corrupt; the people are pure. There’s a clever phrase by Leo Strauss that applies to this whole ethos: He called it “liberal persecution of authoritarianism.” This rhetorical persecution may even be merited in most cases. But it misleads us when we look at Europeans’ response to Nazism. Personal mysticism was less effective against tyranny than organized religion was. The masses were not the solution to Hitler; they were the problem. By the end of this story, the pope comes out looking pretty good, and ordinary Catholics come out looking terrible.
Harris: What are the implications for the world today?
Riebling: I think there are two. First, conservative, even authoritarian, religious structures can prove extremely helpful against revolutionaries who want to impose a far more radical, utopian political religion. If Sunni Islam had a hierarchy, we would see many of its leaders resist ISIS more effectively. By comparison, you are seeing the Shia capable of counteraction, not just because they are anti-Sunni, but because they have a clerical hierarchy. The Sunni conservatives will at some point have to either fight the revolutionaries or obey them. It was similar in Cambodia under Pol Pot—finally the old-line communists in that part of the world couldn’t take it anymore. Likewise, who is now sending troops to prop up an authoritarian Assad to stop ISIS? The former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. Which should remind us that in the former Soviet Union, glasnost and perestroika did not come from “the Russian people.” They began within the most elite ranks of the Party—the KGB. I think the pope’s secret war against Hitler should be grouped with this family of phenomena—authoritarian resistance to totalitarianism.
The second implication relates to the importance of myth. I don’t mean to go all Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell here, but there’s a reason that the first books the Nazis banned were not nonfiction but novels. They wanted to destroy any possible counter-myths. The word “myth” comes from the Greek mythos, which just means “story.” For 500 years we’ve seen, in the progress of science, the demythification of the world—or the disenchantment of the world, to use Max Weber’s phrase. The magic’s all gone, but the monsters remain. But myths, or stories, and structures built on them, can help fight those monsters. That’s a lesson I draw from the story of the Church and the Reich. SS documents record the Nazis’ frustration with their failure to replace Christian myths—a failure that ran deeper, for instance, than their inability to remake Ascension Day into the Feast of Thor’s Hammer. As one SS report noted, “In exactly those areas where political Catholicism holds sway, the peasants are so infected by the doctrines of Catholicism that they are deaf to any discussion of the racial problem.” So if you wanted to fight Nazism, there was something helpful in the Christian myth—as also in the communist myth. For half a century, the Marxist myth of the New Man was fairly successful in supplanting the old stories—but the magic’s gone out of that, too. So you have, unless you are mindful, a banalization of human experience. This banality is going to tempt some people to join ISIS for excitement, for re-enchantment, for remythification. If you join ISIS, you have a story! Your life is numinous—it’s as if you’re living in the Iliad instead of, say, just playing soccer in the dust in a Bauhaus housing project in Basra. Or you’re channeling the Teutonic Knights while you’re horsewhipping Jews in 1930s Nuremburg—I think the personal hunger is the same. As C.G. Jung said, you can chase out the devil, but he shows up somewhere else. Which is one reason why, when Jung was an agent for US intelligence in 1944, he urged propping up political Catholicism—in fact, through the Christian-socialist parties that came to dominate Cold War Europe, whose exiled leaders Pius sheltered in the Vatican. Jung was an atheist, but he preferred Christian socialism to the atheist communism he saw coming. He predicted that the freethinking atheist would fare better under the frowning brow of the Christian myth than under the trampling boot of the communist one.
Harris: That’s all extremely interesting. Do you have any final thoughts?
Riebling: There’s a related point here, on which I don’t think secular liberals today are as honest as George Orwell dared to be. On April 6, 1940—coincidentally, the same day the first papal plot against Hitler failed—Orwell published an essay containing an insight that could stand as an epitaph for the whole modern age. He recalled a cruel trick he once played on a wasp that was sucking jam on his plate. Orwell cut him in half. The wasp paid no mind, merely went on with his meal, while jam trickled out of his severed esophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him. “It is the same with modern man,” Orwell wrote. “The thing that has been cut away is his soul.” We’ve sawed off the moral branch on which we sat—divine sanction for absolute ethics—and then we’ve fallen into a cesspool, and we’re surprised. In that mode we say (when we’re not under the “Pope Francis effect”): The pope is not the moral father figure of mankind; he’s a medieval mummy, his magic doesn’t work, and we don’t want it to work—on abortion, on gay marriage, on other things. But during the Shoah, we say: Hey, mummy, get out there and work your magic! We don’t believe in it; but an awful lot of plain folk do.
That’s hypocritical and condescending. Especially because the record of secular liberals during the Nazi era was hardly admirable on the whole. Few parts of German society put up less resistance to Nazism than progressives in the universities, who liked Hitler’s ideas on national health care, and protecting the environment, and separating church and state, and even claimed to ground racism in “evolutionary science.”
There’s a critical discourse on these failings of secular liberalism. But compared with the critical discourse on the pope and the Reich, you have to dig hard to find it. As someone who considers himself a secular liberal, and an atheist, I try to stay curious about whatever doesn’t fit my paradigm, and I think it’s good conceptual hygiene to revisit these failures—to learn from the mistakes of one’s own side and from the successes of conservative believers. You can’t worry so much about giving the other side “ammunition.” You have to be large enough, and empathic enough, and secure enough, to give credit. In the process—and I hope this happens with those who read my book—you might learn or unlearn something about the past that helps you live in the present more mindfully.