Saturday, July 18, 2015

Royals: Open Your Archive -- The Guardian



From the Guardian UK:

"Buckingham Palace has been urged to disclose documents that would finally reveal the truth about the relationship between the royal family and the Nazi regime of the 1930s.

The Sun’s decision to publish footage of the Queen at six or seven years old performing a Nazi salute, held in the royal archives and hitherto unavailable for public viewing, has triggered concerns that the palace has for years sought to suppress the release of damaging material confirming the links between leading royals and the Third Reich.

Unlike the National Archives, the royal archives, which are known to contain large volumes of correspondence between members of the royal family and Nazi politicians and aristocrats, are not compelled to release material on a regular basis. Now, as that relationship becomes the subject of global debate, historians and MPs have called for the archives to be opened up so that the correspondence can be put into context.

“The royal family can’t suppress their own history for ever,” said Karina Urbach of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. “This is censorship. Censorship is not a democratic value. They have to face their past. I’m coming from a country, Germany, where we all have to face our past.”

Read the full article at the Guardian here.

For background on this story, read "Bieganski," specifically the chapter on "The Necessity of Bieganski." Order "Bieganski" here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Franz Jagerstatter, Catholic Martyr to Nazism.


Below please find a review of a book of writings by Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian Catholic martyr to Nazism. The review is from Amazon and is by Peter Sean Bradley.

***

Franz Jagerstatter was a Catholic Austrian farmer who graduated from a one-room school at fourteen. He spent some time working in the mines before returning to his home-town of St. Radegund. At St. Radegund he fathered a child out of wedlock and then married Franziska Schaninger and started farming. The couple had two small children and Franz grew deeper in his Catholic faith. In 1938, Austria was incorporated into the National Socialist (NS) German Reich, initially by force and then by a plebiscite.

From 1940 to 1941, Franz was inducted into the Austrian army, where he was trained as a soldier away from St. Radegund. During that time, he wrote letters to wife. These letters are beautiful expressions of the love of a man for his wife and family. Franz also offers the perspective of an Austrian peasant on his times, his faith and on the NS influence on Austria. These letters are particularly poignant because we know Franz's destiny.

After he was mustered out of training in 1941, Franz returned to St. Radegund, where he thought about the NS and what it meant to be complicit in NS evil. In 1943, Franz was recalled to military service. The NS was an evil condemned by the Catholic Church. Bishops and priests were arrested and imprisoned for speaking against the NS. Service in the military was service to evil, but Franz had a family and not serving was disobedience to the State, and to God who ordained the State, and was punishable by death. Soldiers were dying in the East for an evil cause, and while military service was less risky than a predestined execution by guillotine, death in such service would be a violation of conscience, which could merit eternal loss.

Franz was impaled on the cruelest dilemma devised by humanity: be true to his conscience and die, a death that would jeopardize his family; or be false to his conscience and court damnation.
The uneducated Austrian farmer pondered his moral situation and made his decision. He would report for military service and refuse to take the oath to Hitler. Having made this decision, he reported for military service, refused to take the oath, was interrogated repeatedly, was advised by priest and family that his death would be loss to his wife and his two small children, who he dearly loved. But he remained true to his conscience, and on August 9, 1943, Franz was executed by beheading by guillotine, an unknown and unremarked martyr.

His memory was recaptured by the publication of a book - In Solitary Witness by Gordon Zahn - in the 1960s and on October 26, 2007, Franz Jagerstatter was beatified by Pope Benedict at the Linz Cathedral at a mass attended by his wife and children, who had been denied a pension after the war because of Blessed Franz's wartime refusal to serve in the NS army.

The story is quite simply remarkable. I am interested in the history disclosed by the story in the subtext, but, first, I have to point out that Blessed Franz's writing is beautiful and his practical theologizing is simply profound. Pre-postmodern culture did a good job of teaching grammar and rhetoric and the practical contents of knowledge. One can marvel at the lucidity of the prose of this man who dropped out at equivalent of the ninth grade when compared to the poor quality of writing and reflection turned out by college graduates.

One also notes how much Catholicism played in Bl. Franz's life and reflections. I had not heard of him until I happened upon him while reading Robert Krieg's Catholic Theologians in Nazi Germany. I don't think many have or Bl. Franz's memory would be gracing the pages of anti-Catholic books who like to showcase "good Catholics" like Deacon Lichtenberg and Father Maximillian Kolbe. Of course, Bl. Franz's unredeemed Catholicism is a problem. As stated in the Introduction by Jim Forest: "Franz Jagestatter remains a challenge, and not only because of his costly refusal to surrender his conscience to the Nazis. One aspect of that challenge is Franz's deeply traditional faith, an example far from fashionable today even among Catholics. While certainly not unaware of the church's human shortcomings and the ways so many bishops compromise the Gospel in order to be on good terms with political leaders. Franz Jagerstatter was a grateful Catholic committed to the church and its sacramental and devotional life." (p. xxvii). Of course, it does not occur to the introduction to think that perhaps - just perhaps - it was Franz's sacramental life that assisted him in his decision and his life.

One "counter-intuitive" aspect of Bl. Franz's letters is how many priests were arrested and imprisoned for anti-NS activities as part of their pastoral activities. Hence, Bl Franz refers to Father Josef Lindinger who criticized the NS in 1938, whereupon the NS broke the windows on his rectory and forced him to resign. (p. 37.) Father Karobath, the priest at St. Radegund, was arrested and imprisoned for criticizing the NS. (p. 248.) Father Leopold Arthofer was imprisoned in Dachau from April 4, 1941 to April 4, 1945. (p. 247.) Another pastor after having his sermon reported by a midwife to a teacher received a rebuke from the NS for preaching that parents should send their children to Mass on holy Days. (p. 44). Father Gebetsberger was arrested in February of 1940 and imprisoned for 6 months because of his criticism of NS. (p. 73.) Despite making a big contribution to the NS, the Hofbauer family had their Gasthaus shut down because their son Pastor Johann ("Pleikner") Hofbauer had publicly criticized the NS. (p. 92.) In prison, awaiting execution, Bl. Franz was by a Tyrolean priest, Franz Reinisch, a priest of the Pallotine order, whom the Reich had executed on August 21, 1942 because of his refusal to take the military oath, a revelation that gave Franz consolation as he awaited execution. (p. 125.)

Bl. Franz's experience made him express regret that priests and bishops were not critical of the NS after the 1938 Anschluss, but he acknowledged the risk to them in speaking their true minds. He also noted that they had not been given the same grace he had been given in his willingness to die for his faith and conscience.

Franz deduced his moral obligation from Catholic teaching. He notes than when it was free to do so, the Austrian Catholic church condemned the Nazis. He also knows that the Pope had condemned National Socialism (in Mit Brennender Sorge), and he knew that teaching had never been countermanded, so he understood the silence of his priests and bishops as part of that condemnation.

"If it were only a war about land as so many others have been and if Germany were actually to end up as the victor, then Catholics at the end of this war would possess the same rights as every other citizen in the German Reich. But if this war is in fact a revolution or a conflict about religious belief, then I could fight for the N.S. Reich as much as I want and yet I - despite all of the exertions and sacrifice that I as a poor soldier had offered - would be seen t the war's end to be an enemy of the Reich because I a Catholic would still not commit myself to National Socialism. In other words, I would be seen at the war's end as Austrian Christians are seen today, even though they submitted themselves - not freely - four years ago to the National Socialist.

These thoughts alone suffice for someone not to fight for this state or for the NS Volk community. Further, I believe that many people have forgotten what the Holy Father said bout National Socialism in his encyclical many years ago, namely that National Socialism is even more dangerous than Communism. Since Rome has not withdrawn this judgment, I believe that it is not likely a crime or a sin if someone as a Catholic were to refuse the current obligation for military service - even though a person who refuses military service is surely looking at death. Is it not more Christian for someone to give himself as a sacrifice than to have to murder others who possess a right to life on earth and who want to live in order to save their lives for a short while." (p. 190.)

I have read so many books written since Hochhuth's slanderous "The Deputy" that take it as given that Pius was silent because of his (irrational) (overstated) fear of Bolshevism. But that is not what one Austrian farmer understood living in the mix of history with his life on the line. So, where did Bl. Franz get this insight if it wasn't what was understood at the time? (Which it was.)

Here is an extended passage on the catechism of silence:

"On one occasion, someone told me that we can belong to the NS Party or contribute to the Winter Help Work without giving the matter any further thought. This person said it makes entirely no difference if we engage in these activities because Rome has canceled its ban [against membership in the NS Party]. However, I did not believe this answer, and so I inquired further into this matter with a higher religion authority. He told me that the first answer was not true because Rome has still not made a decision about [National Socialism] in general.

I believe that it is pointless to ask priests about this matter. First, they have no more specific instructions from higher church officials. Second, if a priest were to say something different from what the N.S. Party holds and if he himself were betrayed, we know what would happen to him. Third, it can also be that priests themselves are not clear about the entire matter.

During a retreat a priest who is a member of a religious order said that many parents come to him with questions about their children. He said further that these parents themselves should already know what they have to do. He acknowledged the difficult situation in which many parents today find themselves when their consciences tell them something different from what the party says. Everyone knows that to decide against the party's wishes is likely to jeopardize one's livelihood.

It would perhaps be better if the church were not to make a decision in this matter, for many people would not be able to go against the party despite an ecclesiastical judgment. These people know that with one blow their entire life would be ruined. Moreover, as long as the church has not made a definite decision in this matter, accountability before God for many people will not be so difficult.

All of us who were educated in the Catholic religion know that we are not allowed to participate in political parties that are enemies of the church or to contribute to such parties so that they can have a wider influence. My conscience has much to say about all of this. I believe that if people have a full recognition that this political party that they are joining or have joined or to which they have contributed is an opponent of the church and if these people continue to it so that they obtain earthly advantages, then they may find themselves facing eternal disadvantages.

We should not, of course, pass judgment on others when they participate in this or that, make contributions or engage in NS fund-raising. We do not know whether they have a full recognition that the party to which they belong is an opponent of the church. Or if they know this, they may not know that belonging to such a party is not allowed by the Catholic Church. There are also many people who even believe that to contribute to the NS Party is a Christian act." (p. 195 - 196.)

Elsewhere he wrote:

"It does not even belong to us to condemn either the National Socialists as a group or as individuals. But as Catholics we must condemn and reject the NS convictions and the ideas of those people who believe that we are not able to become fortunate on this earth through the teachings of Christ. It is a certain sign that such people know too little about the Christian faith. Because our faith offers so much, we shall become fortunate through it not only in eternal life but already her in this world. So We Catholics have not the least reason to allow our faith to get somehow combined with other teachings.

The Catholic Church has not yet declared that the NS Party is an opponent of the church and hence has not said that it forbids, Catholics, under the pain of sin, from belonging to the party. The church has remained silent on this matter. Nevertheless we surely know what this party is and how it stands in relation to the church. Many Austrians will be able to remember the words of the Holy Father in the encyclical that came to our ears as drastic changes were occurring in Austria: that the National Socialist danger is as dangerous for us as the Communist danger. "(p. 202.)

Franz sneered at the NS insistence on being a part of a "Volk community." (p. 24.) At one point he writes to his wife: "these are the purest of Volk treks. They are worthless endeavors in which we simply march down a road." (p. 65.) The Nazis taught their soldiers that "all of us should help one another" but that the NS would not insert their mentality into him. (p. 72.)

The enforced silence on the Church was part of Bl. Franz's suffering. He writes:

"Have the National Socialists now - after more than two years of bringing about the horrible murder of people - adopted a new orientation that would allow and even promote the silence of church officials? Have church officials reached the decision that it is now permissible for Catholics to belong to a party that opposes the church? Have they given a positive evaluation of National Socialism?" (p. 174.)

It is clear that he understands that the answer is "no," but he questions whether it would have been better for the Austrian Church to have had martyrs as examples. And, yet, he does not mean to throw stones at our bishops and priests. They are humans of flesh and blood as we are and they can be weak." (p. 175.) (He also speculates that the bishops might have expected a quick fall of the Nazi government, which survived against all expectations.(Id.)

Bl. Franz was also able to make sense out of his own suffering by his faith. There are some moving passages where he meditates on the meaning of suffering and the cross he must bear in being faithful to Christ. This is heady stuff today where the default "heroic" position is for the hero of a story to inveigh against God for being so cruel. Franz does not doubt the mercy of God and he recognizes who the enemy is, namely National Socialism. Franz does not blame the Nazis individually. (P. 199 ("while I have surely pounded hard against National Socialism, I am not permitted to attack National Socialists. To do so would go against the commandment concerning love of neighbors. We should condemn the NS views or convictions but not the people who hold these convictions. It belongs to God alone to judge people and to condemn them. All of us are brothers and sisters before God.")

Unlike modern commenters who are befuddled by an obvious truth, Bl. Franz had no doubt that the Reich was the enemy of the Church. During his interrogation, Bl Franz learned the following:

"This morning a man whose father is a general told me that someone in a position higher than a general has said: "One must first fight against our enemies outside and afterward against our enemy inside, namely the C[hurch]."" (p. 108.)

Franz's meditations on bible verses and the Our Father are moving for their simplicity and clarity. This is a book that deserves to be read as both inspirational material and a kind of practical guide for living in morally compromised times.

Review by Peter Sean Bradley


You can purchase the book at Amazon here

"The God Jehovah Is the Greatest of All Criminals ... Arrests of Priests, Attacks on Bishops, and Closing of Catholic Schools"

Polish priests and civilians before being killed by Nazis.
Source: Wikipedia 


Below please find Peter Sean Bradley's Amazon review of the book "Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity."

***

Amazon review by Peter Sean Bradley

"Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity" is a compilation of the "Kulturkampf Newsletter" from 1936 - 1939. The Kulturkampf newsletter was a newsletter put together anonymously by Germans who were monitoring developments in the Nazis religious policies. The newsletters were written anonymously and published in German and French. They had a limited circulation, apparently about 400 subscribers, but one of the subscribers was Osservatore Romano, so the information in the newsletters got a broader circulation than one might think.

These newsletters are in fact a kind of "blog," covering an area of topical interest for the authors, written for a general audience and written by individuals who have a great deal of knowledge and insight.

The newsletters have three virtues for those interested in the issue of Nazi religious policy. First, the newsletters are written contemporaneously with events so that the reader can see the evolution of Nazi policy and the development of the internal logic of Nazi ideology as one policy led to another policy. Second, the newsletter pays attention to the sources where the Culture war was fought, such as the newspapers that were fronting for Goebbels, Rosenberg and Goring. In this area, the articles of the Schwarz Korps and Der Sturmer are as important as speeches by Hitler. Similarly, Rosenberg and Baldur von Schirach are important players for all that they get relegated to the "B list" in the typical narrative. Third, the reader experiences the qualia - the feel - of what it was like for Catholics and orthodox Protestants in a culture that was going religiously and culturally insane, where the madmen were running the asylum.

The text covers four years of the Kulturkampf - 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939. Like modern bloggers, the authors wrote more newsletters in the early years,than the later, perhaps because of losing interest, perhaps because everything had already been said, perhaps because of life interfering, or perhaps because of the Gestapo.

What I got from the newsletters was several things.

First, was the undoubted feeling of oppression that Catholics and Confessional Church Protestants experienced. The newsletters constantly report arrests of priests, attacks on bishops, and closing of Catholic schools and demands that Protestant pastors take a loyalty oath to Hitler. On top of that, the official "semi-official" press was constantly ginning up anti-Christian and anti-Catholic hatred. Catholics and Protestants must have felt like they were under a constant state of siege, which they were.

Second, the newsletter develops some interesting insights about the religious sociology of National Socialism. The newsletter authors discerned three "tendencies" or "wings" in National Socialism, which may provide a useful way of keeping track of the many strands of religiosity found in National Socialism:

"Amidst the complexity of National Socialist policy, the extreme wing, on the edge of, or outside the Party, embracing the organized 'German Believers,'all the way to the Ludendorff adherents; and openly hostile to Christianity. Second, the 'neo-pagans': Rosenberg, the Schwarze Korps review, practically the whole of the SS men and the Hitler Youth - the most influential grouping in the Party. This describes itself as anti-denominational rather than anti-Christian. And third, the "German Christians':not the small sect of that name, but those who hold the conception of a peculiarly National Socialistic Christianity, subserving the dictatorship, as expressed in article 24 of the Party programme and represented by Hitler, Frick and others. All three tendencies are in fact equally wide divorced from Christianity. We are not discussing their standing from this angle, however, but their relative political weight and their position in relation to the Kulturkampf." (2 Nov. 1937, p.267.)

And:

"In a recent issue of Kulturkampf, we sought to describe the various currents in National Socialist circles with regard to religion; and we assigned to the Schwarze Korps and to the Black Guards' organization generally a considerable position between the self-declared pagans to their left and the small group to their right, generally described as "German Christians." We also stated that this right wing - which includes Hitler himself, Frick and now, Reich Church Affairs Minister Kerrl -was taking over direction of the war on the Churches and intends either liquidating or "co-ordinating" the Left." (23 Dec. 1937, p. 292.)

And:

"As concerns the campaign against the Churches, the Sturmer would appear to belong to the Right, the German Christian wing of the Nazi Party. The name of Jesus Christ is frequently invoked in the paper, but only as the father of anti-semitism. The Sturmer stands by the thesis that Christ was an "Aryan" and leader of anti-Semitism who suffered crucifixion because of his anti-Semitism, that the New Testament has as little connection wht Old as Hitler has with Rathenau or Bruning.

A pensioned municipal official from Leipzig - an "Aryan" - recently laid charges of blasphemy against the Sturmer before the prosecuting attorney of the Nuremberg district court. In an article on a modern statue in the Lubeck Cathedral, the Sturmer had written that the "God Jehovah, to whom the Jews pray, is the greatest of all criminals." "Such a statement", wrote the official in his letter to the prosecutor, "offends my deepest feelings as a Christian. Jehovah is the name of the holy, almighty and beneficent God according to the original text of the Old Testament, which, as generally recognized, forms an essential part of the Bible, the foundation of the Christian religion. The national courts have already rendered judgement that blasphemy of God under the name of Jehovah is a punishable offense.

But the Sturmer is quite certain of winning its case. "The Herr Official," it writes, "is acting in accordance with the wishes of the Sturmer. The Sturmer is desirous that this question of the jewish God Jehovah shall finally be judged in the courts of the Third Reich. This has long been necessary. It is true that hitherto the God Jehovah has also been comprehended in the blasphemy statutes. It will, however, be easy to prove that those statutes have been protecting a "God" who has always been a criminal and who continues to teach crimes. Thus, our accuser has rendered Jehovah a poor service. His charges have created the necessary conditions for finally unmasking the face of this "holy," "almighty" and "all-good" God." There is no need to be excited about the outcome of this case. The Nazi judges have always been ready to kiss the boots of the Nuremberg despot." (12 Jan. 1938, p. 308.)

Interesting how thoroughly modern the Nazis appear when that kind of writing is compared to Richard Dawkins' popular applause line about the God of the Old Testament.

And:

"It is quite true that there are two wings within the National Socialist Party, with regard to the question of religion. However, these two wings do not disagree as to whether National Socialism should be the state religion. They disagree only as to whether Christianity should be entirely excluded from the state religion or only subordinated to it. The more moderate wing envisages a solution such as that adopted in Japan: the state religion is set up as a state service, above all other religions, which are only tolerated inasmuch as they show respect for the state religion and limit their own religious activities to the churches themselves and the private life of their members." (6 July 1939, p. 525.)

[Sidenote: Karl Barth observed that "one cannot understand National Socialism except by seeing it as a new Islam, with its myth of a new Allah, and with Hitler as its prophet." (10 August 1939, p. 532 - 522.)

Third, the newsletter puts Hitler in the third group, that of the small "right-wing" of so-called German Christian (who, as noted, hold a view of the God of the Old Testament that is indiscernible from that of Richard Dawkins):

"Until now, it has been the second tendency which has led the attack upon religion. But now the third is pushing forward - the Fuhrer advances to the lead. Adolf Hitler never really desired the fight with the Church. He wanted a pliable Church, a Church which would pay him homage. The "positive Christianity" in his programme, the government's statements which were friendly to the Church - these were sincerely intended. But sincere only when measured by the sole standard which applies to all his acts - his inordinate lust for power. At the state ceremony in the Potsdam Barracks on 21 March 1933, the generals bowed before the former corporal. Prussia surrendered to the Austrian. In order to complete the symbolic act, the Church should also assist at the enthronement.

The Concordat was one more attempt to secure this recognition by bartering peace with the Church. how could he have overlooked the Church - he who with such incomparable acuteness perceived every means which would bring him more power, which would consolidate his power in the minds of his subjects? Both Mein Kampf and his later speeches have shown that he coveted power over the Church more than any other institutions. He, whose method it is to possess himself of the existing mechanisms of power and influence, can never have despised that of the Church. Only the superficial will deny this. He has expressed himself drastically against the Church, you will say? His speeches against Hindenburg were a hundred-fold more hostile. Those words were afterwards buried as, with full honours, was later the old man himself; and, in his place, now sits his erstwhile reviler, a thousand times more powerful. That the Kulturkampf ever came about was not through Hitler's design, but his mistake. He forgot that in Germany and the Church belong to Christ.

He looked first upon the dispute with the Churches as a struggle for political power. It was not that, however; it was a spiritual conflict. Then he withdrew, to wait, and left the field almost entirely to the second tendency we have described. He was not satisfied as, bit by bit, the standing of the Church in public life was destroyed. Nor was he satisfied with the increasing sei-divine magnification of his own personality. he wished to be honoured by the existing, established Church. He wanted to possess the Church and therefore did not with to see destroyed that which he hoped to make his." (p. 267 - 268.)

The Kulturkampf newsletter suggests that the second tendency was subjected to "co-ordination" in the interests of the Party. (p. 269.)

Fourth, by 1939, the newsletter authors had concluded that the objective of the Nazis was the establishment of an "Anti-Christian Theistic State" (6 July 1939, p. 522.) and that Nazism was already a religion.

Interestingly, the pro-Nazi writings of Bishop Hudal are offered as proof in that they were rejected by the Nazis as intruding into their spiritual space.(Cf. 10 Aug. 1939, p. 532 with 15 April 1938, p. 362:

"After the publication of the Papal Encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge, and after the case of Bishop Hudal - it can no longer be said that National Socialism is a purely political creed. Hudal wrote a book which was friendly to Hitler and his aims. Yet it was later prohibited in Germany - precisely because the writer had restricted National Socialism to the political field only. And on 30 March, in an address to some Austrian artists in Vienna, Dr. Goebbels said: 'there can be no greater error than to believe that National Socialism is only a political doctrine. National Socialism is a new, all-inclusive conception of human life, and therefore it embraces every aspect of human thought, sentiment and activity in its sphere of action. National Socialism is not concerned solely with the state, or with economics, with military or foreign policy, with social policies or with culture." (Id.)

Fifth, the 20 March 1939 newsletter documents the "National Socialist fury at the election of Cardinal Pacelli to the Papacy; Expectation that Pius XII will share the "Burning Anxiety" of his predecessor with regard to Christianity in Germany." The editor of the book notes that "none of this is noted in John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope"...the evidence of this newsletter vitiates the title of Cornwell's book." The newsletter observes:

"Officialdom in Germany has not sought to conceal its opinion of the election of Cardinal Pacelli to the Papacy. And it would indeed have been difficult for it to assume gratification or even indifference. both before and after the death of Pius XI - and also now, after the election of the new Pope - the National Socialist press advertises and recommends an official Nazi Party pamphlet entitled, The Men Around the Pope: Who Decides the Vatican's Policy? This pamphlet was published last year and has already sold 340,000 copies. In this pamphlet - the sale of which is vigorously pushed by the various Nazi Party organizations - the heaviest attack is made upon Cardinal Pacelli, State Secretary at the Vatican at the time of its writing." (p. 493.)

So much for Hitler's Pope.

Sixth, the newsletter addresses the issue of a "peace agreement" with the Nazis and the accusation that such a hypothetical agreement would "sanction" the Nazis:

"There is one error, in which credence is readily placed in lay circles, which should be corrected at once. If the Catholic Church were to enter into an agreement with the National Socialist government - even an agreement which were completely favourable - she would not thereby be "sanctioning Hitler," as some say, but would be legally establishing the oppression of the Church by the dictatorship. Through this "peace treaty" she would be definitely assuming the role of persecuted - a role of which she need not be ashamed. For example, in order that she may continue with her mission, the Catholic Church is compelled to accept the governmental regulation of religious life imposed by the Japanese government. But by so doing, she does not "sanction" the heathen Japanese Government and still less Shintoism but secures the necessary preconditions for the continuation of her missionary work and to render possible the exercise of their faith by Japanese Catholics. As we shall alter see, this example, apparently too exotic to be applicable to the West, is by no means irrelevant, but highly pertinent in the existing case.

But when she signs a treaty with the National Socialist government, does not the Church recognize as right all the injustices that has been done to her and does she not therewith abandon all claim to a reparation of this injustice? No, the Church merely accepts the situation which has been imposed upon her by the rulers as the pre-supposition of her legal attitude an her religious activities, and thereby establishes nothing more, morally and legally, than that this situation arises from the forcefully imposed laws of the dictator, but not that it is just.

The Catholic Church ought not to refrain from any efforts to secure an agreement which, while not rendering any lighter the burden which German Catholics must wear, might protect them from a yet heavier burden. She would be prepared to adopt a modus vivendi arising out of necessity. She has not the earthly weapons with which to avert this; and it is not disgraceful for those who accept it but only for those who impose it. The Church's struggles in an unequal conflict with power have never harmed her." (6 July 1939, p. 525.)

The bottom line is that for anyone who has been infected by the virus of disinformation - who thinks that the German Catholic Church supported the Nazis or that Pius XII was "Hitler's Pope"- this book is going to open your eyes, if you can open your mind.

Amazon review by Peter Sean Bradley


Purchase the book here

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bashing Pope Francis, Mongering Hatred against Catholics and Catholicism. The Gatestone Institute and Susan Warner.

I've noticed in my Facebook feed that memes bashing Pope Francis are among the most frequent items. I often see three memes hating on Pope Francis in my first ten minutes of browsing Facebook in the morning. 

Mind -- I'm not talking about intelligent, informed, factually accurate posts that produce headlines that speak the truth in rational language and that articulately debate this or that Vatican position. 

I'm talking about pre-cooked memes with photos designed to make the pope look sinister and headlines tuned to exploit any latent anti-Catholic prejudice in the viewer. 

I'm talking about people who don't read Vatican documents, and yet spout off opinions about material that they have not read and refuse to read. Posters don't inform themselves about actual events. And posters spout off, 

"HOW COULD THE POPE SAY THAT YOU CAN'T BE A CHRISTIAN AND MAKE GUNS OR DRIVE A CAR AND HOW COULD HE ELEVATE ISLAM TO STATUS EQUAL WITH CHRISTIANITY!!!!???"

Typing in all caps because a lot of less informed internet posters do type in all caps, thinking that typing in all caps magically transforms lies into truth. 

I had to unfriend someone I had liked because he posted one anti-pope meme after another. The last one by him I saw included the rather lowbrow headline, "The Pope Is a Dope."

I mentioned this publicly. And so this morning I received an anti-pope article in my inbox, rather than on my Facebook page. Clever! 

The Gatestone Institute published "The Scorpion, the Frog, and the Pope," by Susan Warner. In one of her opening paragraphs, Warner writes, 

"The history of the Catholic Church is a two-thousand year old story of anti-Judaism, conspicuous by frequent massacres, murders, forced conversions, torture, pogroms, expulsions, demonization and other unspeakable acts of violence and offense."

This is, of course, hate mongering propaganda, not respectable and representational history. Of course nominal Catholics, even some genuine Catholics, and people who aren't Catholic at all have done very bad things, in specific locations, at specific times, in response to specific local conditions. Good Catholics are ashamed of these crimes, that go against our teaching, and we repent of them and make amends. At the time that these crimes were committed, there were Catholics who stood against them. 

What Warner does not mention is that popes, other church leaders, and lay Catholics often stood up for Jews, taught tolerance of Jews, had Jews as friends, and came between Jews and other sinful, aggressive, Catholics and others who were attacking Jews. 

No Polish reader needs me to remind him or her of Catholics Jan Karski, Maximilian Kolbe, Irene Sendler, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma, and Witold Pilecki, but these heroes are not alone. There are many more. 


We Catholics are deeply ashamed of, and deeply regret, the attacks on Jews that happened during the First Crusade. How many Catholics know that good Catholics attempted to protect the Jews under attack, including the Archbishop of Cologne? One could mention many such examples.

One really needs to read a responsible history of the Catholic Church to understand hate mongers like Warner -- but how many people will do that? Too few. 


In the meantime, to see just how twisted and inflammatory Warner's opening paragraph is, let's edit it a bit. 

"The History of Judaism is a four-thousand year old story of anti-Goyism, conspicuous by Jews, when they were in the majority, persecuting early Christians unto death, praying for their utter destruction -- the  Birkat ha-Minim -- and teaching that Mary was a whore, that Jesus' father was a Roman soldier, and that Jesus is boiling in excrement in Hell. Jews have demonized Christians." 

Unfortunately the isolated facts in the above paragraph are true, but no responsible person would begin an article meant to be read by the general public with that paragraph. It focuses on isolated, ugly facts, and leaves out the millions of Jews who have been tolerant of Christians, friends to Christians, helpful to Christians, etc. 

It leaves out the foundational Jewish teachings that teach respect for difference. It leaves out the majority of good people today who want to live together in peace. 

I don't know what's behind the hatred for Pope Francis, but I am deeply troubled by it, and I'm concerned about how far it will go, and in what direction. 

You can read Susan Warner's anti Catholic hate mongering at the Gatestone Institute here

Some less offensive Pope Francis memes:







Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On Ynet Calling Poland "The World's Largest Jewish Cemetery"

Otto sent this in. It is his response to Ynet calling Poland "the world's largest Jewish cemetery." 

I find it difficult to understand why you and other writers seem to confuse Poland the victim of Nazi Germany invasion and occupation with the Poland as some active member of the Axis. 

Camps set up by the Germans were done so because it was convenient and not some sign of Polish complicity. 

One never reads this type of slander against the French in the same way even though the Vichy government, for example, was an active and willing participant. 

Poland was on the receiving end of victimization, Poles died in the same death camps fighting for decency and freedom. With their lives. 

When you call it "the world's largest Jewish cemetery", while graphic and statistically true since so many murder victims, it reinforces the silly notion that Poland was a willing participant in the reign of evil under Nazi Germany. 

Have you ever thought up a catch phrase for France in the same why? Not likely. But the insult to Poland goes unchecked over and over again. Unfair, untrue, and just plain insulting. The first victim in war is the truth, so I hope we can make sure to not repeat any mistakes of the past. Words are powerful things and can send big lies when used carelessly.

Otto's father was a Nazi soldier. Otto wrote Ripples of Sin