The "deals" made between
The end of "the Papal States"
One can't understand the deal which the papacy made with the Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, without understanding the history of the relationship between the papacy and the civil governments of the Italian peninsula during the prior hundred years. After having had political control of "the Papal States", a good portion of central Italy, for a thousand years or more, the popes were denied that control during the 19th century.
With this as the historical background, it's not surprising that the Catholic Church was willing to make a deal ("concordat") with Benito Mussolini, which became the model for its deal with Mussolini's partner, Adolf Hitler, four years later. As bad as these deals were, they were better - from the Vatican's point of view - than the hand that had been dealt to the church from the liberal revolutionaries of France and Italy, or what they could expect if the communists got their way in any additional Catholic countries.
King, Pope & Dictator
The Lateran Treaty (and Concordat) of 1929 with Fascist Italy :
"In Italy , the Holy See (Pope Pius XI and Sec. of State Pacelli) had signed a pact with Mussolini in February, 1929, foreshadowing Pacelli's 1933 deal with Hitler. Negotiated and drafted by Pacelli's brother, Francesco, and his predecessor as Secretary of State, Pietro Gasparri, the accord, on the face of it and for the time being, ended the antagonisms that had existed between the Holy See and Italy since 1870.
(There were three parts in this treaty, the last of which was the "concordat", dealing with the "rules of engagement between the Italian state and the Catholic Church, going forward.) According to the terms of this concordat, Roman Catholicism became the sole recognized religion in the country. Crucially, the agreement acknowledged the right of the Holy See to impose within Italy the new Code of Canon Law, the most significant expression of which, for Pius Xl, was Article 34, in which the state recognized the validity of marriages performed in church. The papacy was awarded sovereignty over the tiny territory of Vatican City (just 108.7 acres) along with territorial rights over several buildings and churches in Rome and the summer palace at Castel Gandolfo on Lake Albano. In compensation for the loss of lands and property, the Vatican was given the equivalent at the time of eighty-five million dollars. The powerful democratic Catholic Popular Party (the Partito Popolare), in many respects similar to the Center Party in German had been disbanded and its leader (Father) Don Luigi Sturzo, exiled. Catholics had been instructed by the Vatican itself to withdraw from politics as Catholics, leaving a political vacuum in which the Fascists thrived. In the March elections following the Lateran Treaty, priests throughout Italy were encouraged by the Vatican to support the Fascists, and the Pope spoke of Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence."
In the place of political Catholicism in Italy, the Holy See was allowed, under Article 43, to encourage the movement known as Catholic Action, an anemic form of clerically dominated religious rally-rousing, described ploddingly by Pius XI as "the organized participation of the laity in the hierarchical apostolate of the Church, transcending party politics." Article 43 stipulated, however, that Catholic Action would be recognized only so long as it developed "Its activity outside every political party and in direct dependence upon the Church hierarchy for the dissemination and implementation of Catholic principles." In a second paragraph, the article declared that all clergy and all those in religious orders in Italy were prohibited from registering in and being active in any political party.
In Germany in the late 1920s, well ahead of the Reich Concordat, Pacelli had also promoted Catholic Action, announcing its establishment at a Eucharistic rally in Magdeburg in 1928. As we have seen, Pacelli's distaste for political Catholicism – dating back to the era of Pius X and turbulent Church-State relations in France – was profound, if at this stage muted. His interest in the Center Party and indeed any Catholics within government in Germany, as became increasingly apparent, focused on the extent to which he could exploit them as negotiating counters (chips) to achieve a Reich Concordat favorable to the Holy See . The Lateran Treaty, drafted and negotiated by his elder brother, Francesco, with all its measures designed to cripple political and social Catholicism, contained all that Pacelli yearned for in a Reich Concordat.
Despite Hitler's confident assertions, the Vatican was by no means inclined toward the Nazi Party; the Holy See endorsed neither the implicit nor the explicit racism of National Socialism, and warned of its potential for establishing an idolatrous creed based on pagan fantasies and spurious folk history. The fact was, however, that Hence, pragmatically, the Vatican's estimation of any political party was colored by how it stood in relation to the communist threat. In this sense, quite ludicrously, even the Nazis' nominal association with socialism was enough to raise doubts about the party among certain naive Vatican monsignori. In L'Osservatore Romano, October 11, 1930, the editorialist declared that membership in the National Socialists was "incompatible with the Catholic conscience," adding, "just as it is completely incompatible with membership of socialist parties of all shades."
At the end of the day, however, Pius XI and Pacelli judged movements on the basis of their anti-left-wing credentials, which had led the Holy See to forbid the Partito Popolare to make approaches to the socialists in 1924, thus neutralizing its attempts to thwart Mussolini. After 1930, when the Center Party in Germany had more need than ever of creating stability by collaborating with the Social Democrats, Pacelli was pressuring the Center Party leadership to shun the Socialist Democrats and court the National Socialists. Insofar as the National Socialists had declared open war on socialism and communism alike, Pius XI and Pacelli were inclined to ponder the advantages of a temporary and tactical alliance with Hitler, a circumstance that Hitler would exploit to the full when his moment came." (Hitler's Pope, pp 114-116)
Although he had been a professed atheist, Benito Mussolini knew that he couldn't govern the country at the heart of the Roman Catholic world without finding a way to work with the Vatican. He had his marriage performed in a Catholic Church, had his children baptized and in 1927 was himself baptized.
"The Vatican and Fascism helped each other from the beginning. Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) ordered the leader of the Catholic Party (in Italy) to disband it (1926), the better to consolidate the regime of Mussolini. The latter negotiated the Lateran Treaty and Concordat with the Church (1926-1929). By virtue of the first, the Vatican became a sovereign state within Rome. While with the second (the Italian Concordat), the Church was granted immense privileges, and Catholicism was declared the only religion of Fascist Italy, which it wholeheartedly supported. Bishops took an oath of allegiance to the Fascist Dictatorship, and the clergy were ordered never to oppose it or incite their flock to harm it. Prayers were said in churches for Mussolini and for Fascism. Priests became members of the Fascist Party and were even its officers.
One of the main supporters of the Fascist-Vatican pact was Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli ( the future Pope Pius XII ), then in Germany. His brother, a canon lawyer, became one of the chief secret negotiators .
. . Later, the Papal Nuncio to Germany, Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli saw to it that his brother was made a Prince." (of Italy)
A few days after the signing of the Lateran Treaty (between the Pope & Mussolini), Hitler wrote an article for theVolkisher Beobachter, published on 2/ 22/1929, warmly welcoming the agreement (which he would strive to emulate and enhance just four years later in his Reich Concordat with the same Pope Pius XI) :
"The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism, shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than (it) did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms." Turning to the German situation, he rebuked the (Catholic) Center Party leadership for its recalcitrant attachment to democratic politics. " By trying to preach that democracy is still in the best interests of German Catholics, the Center Party . . . is placing itself in stark contradiction to the spirit of the treaty signed today by the Holy See."
The conclusion of his rant contained a gross distortion as well as a remarkable intuition of future opportunities: "The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy. . . proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity (i.e. Catholicism) than (to) those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism, to which the so-called Catholic Center Party sees itself so closely bound, to the detriment of Christianity today and our German people."
(Another of Hitler's comments on the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 is quoted by Scholder in "The Churches and the Third Reich", Vol I, p. 388: "If the Pope today comes to such an understanding with Fascism, then he is at least of the opinion that Fascism – and therefore nationalism – is justifiable for the faithful and compatible with the Catholic faith." ( Hitler's Pope, p. 115).
The 1933 Concordat between the R. C. Church and Nazi Germany,
But Hitler circumvented that problem in 1933. In return for maintaining state support for the churches, Hitler secured an agreement that the churches would not oppose the National Socialists' rise to power. Practically overnight, both churches developed active participation in advancing the goals of the Nazis. The Lutheran press began to talk of the Jews as the "natural enemies" of Christianity. The Catholic Church even agreed to an oath of fealty to be taken by all bishops, agreeing "Before God and on the Holy Gospels, I swear and promise – as becomes a bishop – loyalty to the German Reich and to the state . . . and to cause the clergy of my diocese to honor it."
[ from www.freedommag.org/english/spegerm/page18.htm ]
Far from being threatened by the Nazis, the government subsidy which the Catholic Church had enjoyed under his predecessors was tripled under Roman Catholic Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
"Between 1933, when he took office, and 1938 it rose from 150,000,000 marks a year to 500,000,000. 'What was your subsidy to the Churches', he asked of France, Britain, and America? He had never closed a church, and he left the Roman Church the richest land-owner in south and west Germany. It drew 1,500,000,000 marks a year from its property alone. (German papers give its wealth as $20,000,000,000). All that he asked was that priests should behave themselves as respectably as other citizens. "Paederasty and the corruption of children," he said, "are punished by law like other crimes in this state." The roars of applause in this case expressed the sentiment of practically the whole of Germany." [How The Cross Courted The Swastika For Eight Years, by Joseph McCabe, chapter IV.]
"After the Concordat between the Nazi regime and the Holy See had been concluded in the summer of 1933, Cardinal Faulhaber sent a handwritten note to Hitler, stating, "What the old parliaments and parties did not accomplish in 60 years, your statesmanlike foresight has achieved in six months. For Germany's prestige in East and West . . . this handshake with the papacy, the greatest moral power in the history of the world, is a feat of immeasurable blessing." These words were written – other German "princes of the Church" expressed themselves similarly – some time after the Nazi regime had abolished virtually all civil liberties, had dissolved all political parties other than its own, and had decreed the removal of "non-Aryans" from public service as well as from pastoral functions, all clearly steps toward the deprivation of citizenship rights of the Jews. These actions were never protested by members of the hierarchy, and expressions such as Faulhaber's could only bolster the regime and help sustain its policies."
[ from "The Silence of the Vatican And the Plight of the Jews," by
H. Brand http://www.wpunj.edu/newpol/issue30/brand30.htm ]
The 1933 Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich :July 20, 1933
His Holiness Pope Pius XI and the President of the German Reich, moved by a common desire to consolidate and promote the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the German Reich, wish to permanently regulate the relations between the Catholic Church and the state for the whole territory of the German Reich in a way acceptable to both parties. They have decided to conclude a solemn agreement, which will supplement the Concordats already concluded with individual German states (Länder) , and will ensure for the remaining states (Länder) fundamentally uniform treatment of their respective problems.For this purpose:
For this purpose His Holiness Pope Pius XI has appointed as his Plenipotentiary His Eminence the Most Reverend Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, his Secretary of State and the President of the German Reich has appointed as Plenipotentiary the Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich, Herr Franz von Papen, who, having exchanged their respective mandates and found them to be in good and proper form, have agreed to the following Articles:
|In the future concordats with the states (Länder) will be concluded only with the agreement of the government of the Reich.|
The Holy See enjoys full freedom in its relations and correspondence with the bishops, clergy and other members of the Catholic Church in Germany. The same applies to the bishops and other diocesan officials in their dealings with the faithful in all matters belonging to their pastoral office.
Instructions, ordinances, pastoral letters, official diocesan gazettes, and other decrees concerning the spiritual direction of the faithful issued by the Church authorities within the framework of their competence (Art. 1, Sect. 2) may be published without hindrance and brought to the notice of the faithful in the customary form.
In the exercise of their clerical activities the clergy enjoy the protection of the state in the same way as state officials. The state will proceed, in accordance with the general provisions of civil law, against any insult to their person or to their clerical capacity, as well as against any interference with the duties of their office and, if necessary, will provide official protection.
The clergy and members of religious orders are freed from any obligation to take public office and such obligations as, according to the dictates of Canon Law, are incompatible with the status of a member of the clergy or religious order respectively. This applies particularly to the office of a lay judge, juror, member of a tax committee or of a fiscal tribunal.
For the acceptance of employment or appointment as state official, or to any public corporation dependent on the state, clergymen require, the nihil obstat  of their diocesan ordinary, as well as of the ordinary of the place where the public corporation is situated. The nihil obstat may be withdrawn at any time for important reasons of ecclesiastical interests.
The official income of the clergy is immune from distraint  to the same extent as is the official salary of the Reich and state officials.
The clergy cannot be required by judicial and other authorities to give information about matters which have been entrusted to them in the course of administering pastoral care, and which therefore fall under the obligation of pastoral secrecy.
The wearing of clerical dress or of a religious habit by lay people, or by members of the clergy or religious orders by whom this use is forbidden by a definitive and legally valid directive of the competent ecclesiastical authority and officially communicated to the state authority, is liable to the same penalty by the state as the misuse of the military uniform.
The present organisation and boundaries of dioceses of the Catholic Church in the German Reich remain in force. Any creation or rearrangement of a bishopric or ecclesiastical province, or other changes in the boundaries of dioceses that seem advisable in the future, so far as they involve changes within the boundaries of a German state (Land), remain subject to the agreement of the state (Land) governments concerned. Rearrangements and alterations which extend beyond the boundaries of a German state require the agreement of the Reich Government, which shall be left to secure the consent of the appropriate state (Land) government. The same applies to creations or rearrangements of Church provinces involving several German states (Länder). The foregoing conditions do not apply to changes in ecclesiastical boundaries made merely in the interests of local pastoral care.
In the case of any (territorial) re-organisation within the German Reich, the Reich Government will communicate with the Holy See with a view to rearrangement of the organisation and boundaries of dioceses.
Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 11, ecclesiastical offices may be freely created and changed, unless state funds are drawn upon. The involvement of the state in the creation and alteration of parishes shall be carried out according to standard procedures that are agreed to by the diocesan bishops, and for which the Reich Government will endeavour to secure the most uniform treatment possible from the state (Länder) governments.
Catholic parishes, parish and diocesan societies, episcopal sees, bishoprics and chapters, religious orders and congregations, as well as institutions, foundations and property which are under the administration of Church agencies, shall retain or acquire respectively, legal competence in the civil domain according to the general provisions of civil law. They shall remain corporations under public law to the extent that they have been so far; the others may be granted similar rights within the framework of the laws valid for all.
[ see the official "explanation" of this article attached below ]
As a matter of principle the Church retains the right to appoint freely to all Church offices and benefices without the involvement of the state or of civil groups, in so far as other provisions have not been made in previous concordats mentioned in Article 2. Concerning the appointment of bishops' sees, the regulation made for appointment of the two suffragan  bishoprics of Rottenburg and Mainz, as well as for the bishopric of Meissen, is to be duly applied to the metropolitan see of the Upper Rhine Ecclesiastical Province of Freiburg. The same holds for the two first named suffragan bishops with regard to appointments to the cathedral chapter, and for the administration of the right of patronage .
|Furthermore, there is agreement on the following points:
(a) be German citizens.
(b) have earned a secondary-school graduation certificate which permits study at an institution of higher learning,
(c) have studied philosophy and theology for at least three years at a German state university, a German ecclesiastical college, or a papal college in Rome.
By agreement between Church and State, Paragraph 1, sections (a), (b)
and (c) may be disregarded or set aside.
2. The bull nominating archbishops, bishops, coadjutors cum jure successionis  or a praelatus nullius  will not be issued until the name of the appointee has been submitted to the Reich governor in the relevant state (Land), and until it has been ascertained that there are no objections of a general political nature. In the case of an agreement between Church and state, Paragraph 1, sections (a) (b) and (c) may be disregarded or set aside. No right of the State to assert a veto is to be based on this Article.[ see the official "explanation" of this article attached below ]
Superiors of religious orders whose headquarters are within Germany must be German citizens. Superiors of provincials and orders whose headquarters lie outside the territory of the German Reich, have the right to visit those of their establishments that lie within Germany.
| Article 16
Before bishops take possession of their dioceses they are to take an oath of loyalty either to the Reich governor of the state (Land) concerned or to the President of the Reich respectively, according to the following formula:
In hospitals, prisons, and other public institutions the Church is permitted to make pastoral visits and conduct services of worship, subject to the general rules of the institutions concerned. If regular pastoral care is provided for such institutions, and if pastors must be appointed as state or other public officials, such appointments will be made with the agreement of Church authorities.
[ see the official "explanation" of this article attached below ]
Catholic members of a non-German ethnic minority living within the German Reich, as regards their mother tongue in Church services [sermons], religious education and Church societies, will be accorded no less favourable treatment than that accorded by law and in practice to members of German origin and speech living within the boundaries of the corresponding foreign states.
[ see the official "explanation" of this article attached below ]
On Sundays and official holy days, a prayer conforming to the liturgy will be will be offered at the end of the principal Mass in parish, auxiliary and conventual churches of the German Reich, for the welfare of the German Reich and (German) people.
Those Catholic organisations and societies which have exclusively charitable, cultural or religious purposes, and, as such, are placed under the Church authorities, will be protected in terms of their institutions and activities.
Those Catholic organisations which, in addition to their religious, cultural and charitable purposes, have others, such as social or professional tasks – even though they may be brought into national organizations – are to enjoy the protection of Article 31, Paragraph 1, provided they guarantee to conduct their activities outside all political parties.
In so far as the Reich and the states (Länder) take charge of sport and other youth organisations, care will be taken that it shall be possible for the members regularly to attend church on Sundays and feast days, and that they shall not be induced to do anything inconsistent with their religious and moral convictions and obligations.
[ from http://www.concordatwatch.eu/kb-1211.834 ]
At the signing of the Concordat concluded today between the Holy See and the German Reich, the undersigned, being regularly thereto empowered, have adjoined the following explanations which form an integral part of the Concordat itself.
Article 27, Par. 1. Catholic officers, officials and personnel, their families included, do not belong to local parishes, and are not to contribute to their maintenance.Article 27, Par 4. The publication of the Apostolic Brief will take place after consultation with the Reich Government.
Article 28. In cases of urgency entry of the clergy is guaranteed at all times.
Article 31, Par. 4. The principles laid down in Article 31, Sect. 4 hold good also for the Labor Service.
The conduct, which has been made obligatory for the clergy and members of religious Orders in Germany in virtue of Article 32, does not involve any sort of limitation of official and prescribed preaching and interpretation of the dogmatic and moral teachings and principles of the Church."(Signed) Eugenio, Cardinal Pacelli (Signed) Franz von Papen
Salient features of the 1933 Reichconcordat :
2) The state concordats with Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929), and Baden (1932) remain valid.
4) Unhindered correspondence between the Holy See and German Catholic church.
13) The right of the church to collect church taxes.
14) "Catholic clerics who hold an ecclesiastical office in Germany or who exercise pastoral or educational functions must:
(a) be German citizens.
(b) have matriculated from a German secondary school.
(c) have studied philosophy and theology for at least three years at a German State University, a German ecclesiastical college, or a papal college in Rome.
[ All of which, except for the papal college. would be under strict Nazi control. ]
How could the hierarchy have been expected to oppose Hitler's policies when they had been required by their church to swear "before God and on the Holy Gospels"not to do so ?
18) State services to the church can be terminated only by mutual agreement.
The Catholic bishops weren't the only ones swearing holy oaths before God to support the Nazi regime.
The Treaty of Versailles barred Germany from having mandatory military service, but in the event that mandatory military service should be reinstated, a secret annex to the Concordat relieved clerics from military duty.Only when the Nazi government violated the Concordat (and Article 31 in particular), did the clergy start to criticize Nazi policies (which the government interpreted as unpatriotic and a violation of Article 32).
1933 Concordat still in effect:
After World War II, the validity of the Reich konkordat was unclear. In 1957, however, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany finally decided that the Concordat was still valid, making it thus the only bilateral treaty from the Nazi period that is still valid for Germany today.
"Why did Pacelli as Secretary of State under Pius XI, sign an agreement – a "concordat" – with the Nazis in 1933? Didn't this just serve to give legitimacy to the Nazi government?"
"Despite vocal opposition from the Catholic Church in Germany where National Socialism's racist views were routinely condemned as contrary to Catholic principles and Catholics were ordered not to support the party [ no source, and no actual quotation], by 1933 Hitler had become German chancellor [no mention of the important role played by Catholics in that event]. Pacelli was dismayed with the Nazi assumption of power and by August of 1933 he expressed to the British representative to the Holy See his disgust with "their persecution of the Jews, their proceedings against political opponents, the reign of terror to which the whole nation was subjected." [ only part of an actual quotation & no source enabling anyone to find out more] When it was stated that Germany now had a strong leader to deal with the communists, Archbishop Pacelli responded that the Nazis were infinitely worse. [ no source, and no actual quotation]
At the same time, however, the Vatican was forced to deal with the reality of Hitler's rise to power. In June 1933 Hitler had signed a peace agreement with the western powers, including France and Great Britain, called the Four-Power Pact. At the same time Hitler expressed a willingness to negotiate a statewide concordat with Rome. The concordat was concluded a month later. In a country where Protestantism dominated, the Catholic Church was finally placed on a legal equal footing with the Protestant churches. [This is misleading, as the Catholic "Center Party" was bigger than the National Socialists and half of the country's Chancellors from 1919 on had been, like Hitler, Catholics.] Did the concordat negotiated by Pacelli give legitimacy to the Nazi regime? No. Forgotten is the fact that it was preceded both by the Four-Power Pact and a similar agreement concluded between Hitler and the Protestant churches. The Church had no choice but to conclude such a concordat, [even if that were true, there were choices to be made as to each of its provisions], or face draconian restrictions on the lives of the faithful in Germany. Pacelli denied that the concordat meant Church recognition of the regime. [ What does that prove?] Concordats were made with countries, not particular regimes, he stated. [Since when docountries – as opposed totheir official representatives – negotiate and sign treaties?] Pope Pius XI would explain that it was concluded only to spare persecution that would take place immediately, if there was no such agreement. The concordat also gave the Holy See the opportunity to formally protest Nazi action in the years prior to the war and after hostilities began. It provided a legal basis for arguing that baptized Jews in Germany were Christian and should be exempt from legal disabilities. Though the Concordat was routinely violated before the ink was dry, it did save Jewish lives." [ There is no explanation here as tohow the Concordat saved any Jewish lives; or any evidence that signing that agreement savedmore lives than opposition to Hitler's policies would have saved.]
"The Vatican began to formally protest Nazi action almost immediately after the Concordat was signed. [no source, and no actual quotation provided ] The first formal Catholic protests under the concordat concerned the Nazi government's call for a boycott of Jewish businesses. [ no source, and no actual quotation provided ] Numerous protests would follow over treatment of both the Jews and the direct persecution of the Church in Nazi Germany. The German foreign minister would report that his desk was stuffed with protests from Rome, [ no source, and no actual quotation provided ] protests rarely passed on to Nazi leadership."
Daniel Goldhagen's response, in A Moral Reckoning [p. 43 ] :
"The essential facts of the Pope's conduct are clear, even if what we make of some of them may be open to disagreement. As the Vatican's Secretary of State, Pacelli hastened to negotiate for the Church a treaty of cooperation, the Concordat, with Hitler's Germany.Completed, signed, and publicized to the world in July 1933 and formally ratified that September, the Concordat was Nazi Germany's first great diplomatic triumph. It included the Church's liquidation of the democratic Catholic Center Party (the forerunner of postwar Germany's governing Christian Democratic Party), effectively legitimating Hitler's seizure of power and his destruction of democracy, which Pacelli and Pius XI welcomed. Cardinal Michael Faulhaber of Germany reported on Pius XI's support for Hitler's measures in a report to the Bavarian bishops. Cardinal Faulhaber had been in Rome, where he observed on March 13 "the Holy Father [saying], with special emphasis: `Until recently the voice of the Roman Pope remained the only one to point out the serious danger threatening Christian culture which has been introduced into almost all nations. Thus, public praise for Hitler." [ sic ??? ]In March, Pacelli conveyed to Hitler, in the words of Germany's envoy to the Holy See, the Vatican's "indirect acknowledgment of the action of the Reich Chancellor and the government against Communism." The Concordat helped to legitimate the Nazi regime in the eyes of the world and consolidate its power at home.
One can't understand how and why the Roman Catholic Church came to make this deal or "concordat" with the devil, without being familiar with the following:
Hitler had come to the conclusion that Bismarck's Kulturkampf in the late 1800's had failed to defeat the Catholic Church because its direct assault on the clergy had only made martyrs of them. He once said, "One doesn't attack petticoats or cassocks." Thanks to his intimate acquaintance with the church, Hitler was wildly successful with his more subtle and diplomatic approach :
"We should trap the priests by their notorious greed and self indulgence. We shall thus be able to settle everything with them in perfect peace and harmony. I shall give them a few years' reprieve. Why should we quarrel? They will swallow anything in order to keep their material advantages. Matters will never come to a head. They will recognize a firm will, and we need only show them once or twice who is master. They will know which way the wind blows." [ Lewy, pp. 25-26]
In 1931, on a mission to the Vatican on Hitler' behalf , Hermann Goring assured the Secretariat of State that the leadership of his party "did not approve of the anti-Catholic utterances of certain of its members." Some of the bishops were inclined to blame subordinates, rather than Hitler, for problems they had with the party.
"The national government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal states. Their rights are not to be infringed... – The national government will allow and secure to the Christian confessions the influence which is their due both in the school and in education. . . The government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and the moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavoring to develop them." [ Lewy, pp. 25-26]
(By 1933, when Hitler was about to become Germany's absolute ruler, the Bishops' official statement) "began by stating that in the last few years the German bishops, out of concern for the purity of the Catholic faith and for the protection of the tasks and rights of the Church, had taken a negative attitude toward the National Socialist movement. The prohibitions and warnings issued were to have remained in effect as long and insofar as the reasons prompting their promulgation existed.
"It has now to be recognized that public and solemn declarations have been made by the highest representative of the nationalist government, who at the same time is the authoritative leader of that movement, through which due acknowledgment has been made of the inviolability of Catholic doctrinal teaching and of the unchangeable tasks and rights of the Church. In these declarations the nationalist government has given explicit assurances concerning the validity of all provisions of the concordats concluded by individual German states with the Church. Without repealing the condemnation of certain religious and moral errors contained in our earlier measures, the episcopate believes it may trust that the above-mentioned general prohibitions and warnings need no longer be considered necessary.
Catholic Christians, to whom the voice of their Church is sacred, do not require at this time a special admonition to be loyal to the lawful authorities and to fulfil conscientiously their civic duties while rejecting on principle all illegal or subversive conduct. . .
(The clergy was instructed that Members of the National Socialist movement and party may be admitted to the sacraments) 'without being harassed on account of such membership . . . provided that there exist no general objections to their worthiness and that they are resolved never to agree to views or acts hostile to faith or Church. Similarly, the mere fact of belonging to that party does not constitute ground for refusing a church burial . . . (The instructions ended by emphasizing that) 'it remains the task of the Church, especially in times of political upheaval, to direct the eyes of the faithful upon the higher spiritual aims of man as taught by the Christian religion.'
The bishops of overwhelmingly Catholic Bavaria, on April 10, issued differently worded instructions, calling for Christian obedience to the new Bavarian government, though they insisted that error and injustice would have to be criticized, especially the violent acts carried out by lower echelons and against the will of the highest authorities in Berlin. 'We have confidence that our clergy will avoid, in word and in conduct, in sermons and in burial addresses, whatever could be interpreted as disrespect for the government or as undignified obeisance.' The Catholic priest should by all means of pastoral care available to him "oppose the godlessness and immorality of the times and thus in his way support the plans of the nationalist government, which by means of governmental measures has promised to work for the spiritual renewal of our national life.' At a meeting of the Bavarian Council of Ministers on April 24 the Premier was able to report that Cardinal Faulhaber had issued an order to the clergy to support the new regime in which he (Faulhaber) had confidence." [ slightly paraphrased from Lewy, pp. 39-41 ]
"He (Hitler) welcomed the opportunity to explain himself to a Catholic bishop, for he had been reproached with being an enemy of Christianity and this reproach had hurt him deeply. He was convinced that without Christianity one could neither run a personal life nor a state, and Germany in particular needed the kind of religious and moral foundation only Christianity could provide. But Hitler also had come to realize that the Christian churches in the last centuries had not mustered enough strength to overcome the enemies of both state and Christianity unaided. They had falsely believed that liberalism, Socialism and Bolshevism could be defeated by way of intellectual arguments. Hence he (Hitler) had decided to come to the Church's help and he had undertaken to destroy godlessness (liberalism) and Bolshevism. Occasional harshness might accompany this fight but that could not be avoided. After relaying this last sentence, Bishop Berning commented, 'He spoke with warmth and equanimity, here and there temperamentally. Not a word against the Church, for the bishops nothing but appreciation.'
Hitler then touched upon the Jewish question and, again stressing the fundamental agreement between National Socialism and Catholicism, pointed out that the Church always had regarded the Jews as parasites and had banished them into the ghetto. He was merely going to do what the Church had done for 1,500 years.. Hitler suggests that his anti-Jewish actions are "doing Christianity a great service."
Altogether, Hitler affirmed, he was personally convinced of the great power and significance of Christianity and he therefore would not permit the founding of another religion. . . Being a Catholic himself, he would not tolerate another Kulturkampf and the rights of the Church would be left intact.
Concerning the school question, Hitler declared that he would never accept an entirely secular school system. Character could be built only on the basis of religion. We must have believers, Bishop Berning reports him saying. "We need soldiers, devout soldiers. Devout soldiers are the most valuable, for they risk all. Therefore we shall keep the parochial schools in order to bring up believers," and in this task Church and State must co-operate closely. Hitler also promised to continue the Catholic organizations if they promoted Christian ideas and at the same time maintained a positive relationship to the state and were public-spirited. But all residues of liberalism and Marxism would have to be eliminated.. . Hitler ended the talk by stressing the great importance he attributed to working closely with the Catholic Church." [ Lewy p. 51-52 ]
In "Constantine's Sword", the Catholic scholar, James Carroll, covers 1600 years of Roman Catholic Church antisemitism, but the following deals with its culmination in Nazi Germany:
"That is why (Bishop of Trier) Bornewasser's support of the Nazi slate in the March 1933 election – again, opposing the Catholic Center Party – was so important. Once Hitler came fully into power that spring, however, Bornewasser's support, among Catholics, would become far from unique. In the Trier Cathedral, before a congregation of Catholic youth, the bishop declared that "with raised heads and firm step we have entered the new Reich and we are prepared to serve it with all the might of our body and soul."
This is the context in which to understand how the impulse of Bishop Korum, who in 1891 brought German Catholics to Trier to celebrate the Church's victory over and against the government, could be reversed in a generation by Bishop Bornewasser's invitation to Catholics to come and celebrate the Church's alliance with the government. The bishop gave ultimate expression to his enthusiasm by inviting Hitler himself to come to Trier for the solemn exhibition of the Seamless Robe (of Christ). On July 20, the very day the Reichskonkordat was signed in Rome, Hitler sent his regrets. Ironically, his declining to join the celebration probably had to do with his reluctance to be too closely identified with the Catholic Church, which, after all, had unsuccessfully lobbied for just such a concordat throughout the thirteen years of the Weimar Republic. German Catholics, aware of Hitler's own Catholic roots, had reason to take the treaty as a signal that their long ordeal of second-class citizenship, dating to the Kulturkampf, was coming to an end.
In Trier, Catholics were disappointed that Hitler would not attend. In his place, however, he sent the Catholic favorite, the man who had negotiated the Reichskonkordat. "Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen was among the pilgrims to the Cathedral of Trier," a contemporary account reports, "where the holy vestments of the Savior were exhibited late in July in the presence of 25,000 other pilgrims from all parts of the country. Colonel von Papen officially represented President von Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler at Trier." Bishop Bornewasser and Papen together sent a telegram to Hitler on July 24 reconfirming their "steadfast participation in the work of resurrecting the German Reich'.
One of the best sources of information on Pius XII role in Hitler's rise to power is John Cornwell, who explains, for example, how much of an impact then Secretary of State Pacelli had in the formulation and enactment of the Concordat, in contrast to the German hierarchy.
"The German hierarchy and clergy had not been involved, nor had the Catholic Center Party or the German laity as individuals or at large. The bishops were even denied information about the fact (i.e. the very existence) of the negotiations. . . When Cardinal Bertram, president of the bishops' conference, petitioned Pacelli with a series of anxieties about the rumored negotiations on April 18, Pacelli did not deign to respond for two weeks. He merely confirmed that 'possible negotiations had been initiated.' Three weeks later, when the final points were being argued, Pacelli patently lied when he informed Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich that there had been merely talk of a concordat, but nothing concrete.Meanwhile, the Center Party was made all the more impotent by virtue of the absence from Berlin of its chairman, Ludwig Kaas, now based permanently in Eugenio Pacelli's apartments in the Vatican. It had been suggested to Kaas that he should resign, but he refused, arguing that 'it would upset things in Rome' - the clearest indication that one of the last great democratic parties in Germany was now being run at the whim of Pacelli." (from Vatican City) [ pp. 141-142 ]. . .
And now, with the negotiations on the concordat far advanced, Pacelli decided to bring the German bishops into the picture. The occasion was anad limina visit to Rome by Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabruck and Archbishop Gröber of Freiburg on May 18. Pacelli's choice of emissaries left nothing to chance. Both were Nazis sympathizers. The time had come, Pacelli told the two prelates, for all the German bishops to consolidate their view of the concordat.As it happened, a meeting of the German bishops had been scheduled for the end of May to review the standpoint of the episcopate toward the Third Reich. When they came together, however, the issue of the concordat, successfully stage-managed by Pacelli's two envoy bishops, dominated their deliberations. Berning and Gröber assured the assembled prelates that the Concordat was virtually complete and that the remaining focus of negotiation was the depoliticization clause. The Cardinal Secretary of State wanted their support, Berning told the bishops, and speed was of the essence.
The fragmentary notes of Ludwig Sebastian, bishop of Speyer, indicate that there were fierce disageements at this critical meeting. Cardinal Schulte of Cologne objected that under the Nazi government `law and right' were nonexistent and 'no concordat could be concluded with such a government.' ; Bishop Konrad von Preysing distributed a memorandum to the conference reminding the bishops that the view of the world held by the National Socialist Party was completely at odds with that of the Catholic Church. 'We owe it to the Catholic people to open their eyes to the dangers for faith and morals which emerge from National Socialist ideology.' He asked for a pastoral letter setting out the errors of Nazism to be addressed to all Germany. It was essential, he said, to have such a letter to refer to 'in a conflict which is probably coming.' All too little, and too late.
The objectors were a minority. The fact that Pacelli was involved in direct negotiations with Hitler inspired the bishops with a measure of confidence. All the same, they evidently saw the dangers of the depoliticization clause, Article 31, since the provision could ban any and every species of social action performed under the auspices and in the name of the Catholic Church. Rushed into a corner by Pacelli's envoy bishops, the hierarchy did not make their suggested revision a condition of acceptance. Following a persuasive plea by Archbishop Gröber, the German bishops endorsed the concordat, passing the responsibility back to Pacelli.As a result of the bishops' decision, a pastoral message drafted by Gröber was published on June 3 announcing the end of the hierarchy's opposition to the Nazi regime, provided that the state respected the rights and freedoms of the Church – notably in relation to Catholic schools and associations. On securing the agreement of the bishops, Gröber wrote to Kaas: 'Praise God, I succeeded in getting approval for the accompanying pastoral... A series of wishes were expressed - but l could easily reject them because they demand the impossible.'
Cardinal Faulhaber brought the matter to a close by informing Papen that he was willing to yield on Article 31 because 'the concordat as a whole is so important, for instance [in the matter of] confessional (i.e. parochial) schools, that I feel that it ought not to fail on this point." [ pp. 144-146 ]
(In a letter to Chancellor Herr Hitler after the conclusion of the Concordat, His Eminence Cardinal Bertram wrote on behalf of the German Catholic hierarchy : "The Episcopate of all the German Dioceses, as is shown by its statements to the public, was glad to express as soon as it was made possible after the recent change in the political situation through the declarations of Your excellency (i.e. himself) its sincere readiness to co-operate to its best ability with the new government which has proclaimed as its goal to promote Christian education, to wage a war against Godlessness and immorality, to strengthen the spirit of sacrifice for the common good and to protect the rights of the Church."( from Universe, August 18th, 1933.)
James Carroll's response from "Constantine's Sword :
" The role of Eugenio Pacelli ( the future Pope Pius XII ) in promoting the historic Code of Catholic Church Law, which he had be instrumental in creating :
The Cooperation between the Church and the Reich:[The preceeding ] is the fateful background to what followed when Hitler, soon after coming to power in early 1933, entered into treaty negotiations with Eugenio Pacelli, by then the powerful cardinal secretary of state." [p. 497 ]"A seismic shift had occurred in Catholic attitudes toward the Nazis, partly related to Hitler's having taken over the government, but also related to the Vatican's eagerness to deal with the Fuehrer. Within a week of his first cabinet meeting, in early March 1933, Hitler received a friendly message from Pacelli, who was moving quickly to take advantage of a long-awaited opportunity to achieve the Reichskonkordat. The message included, as the Vatican envoy told Hitler, 'an indirect endorsement of the action of the Reich chancellor and the government against Communism.'Even an indirect endorsement meant everything to Hitler as he sought to establish his legitimacy at home and abroad. In these early months of 1933, Catholic leaders went from being Hitler's staunch opponents to his latest allies. This transformation was dramatically symbolized by the fact that in 1932, the Fulda Episcopal Conference, representing the Catholic hierarchy of Germany, banned membership in the Nazi Party, and forbade priests from offering communion to anyone wearing the swastika; then, on March 28, 1933, two weeks after Pacelli offered his overture to Hitler, the same Fulda conferees voted to lift the ban on Catholic membership in the Nazi Party. The bishops expressed, as they put it, 'a certain confidence in the new government, subject to reservations concerning some religious and moral lapses.' Swastika bearers would now be welcomed at the communion rail. Cornwell writes, 'The acquiescence of the German people in the face of Nazism cannot be understood in its entirety without taking into account the long path, beginning as early as 1920, to theReich Concordat of 1933; and Pacelli's crucial role in it; and Hitler's reasons for signing it. The negotiations were conducted exclusively by Pacelli on behalf of the Pope over the heads of the faithful, the clergy, and the German bishops.' Pacelli's negotiations must be seen in the full context of the siege under which Roman Catholicism had found itself in Europe in the previous decades, but there was a distinction in his mind, and in his purpose, between a defense of the Catholic Church in Germany and a defense of the Vatican. Indeed, his disregard for the prerogatives of the local Church is indicated by his readiness to ignore, and even to deceive, important figures in its hierarchy. Whatever its stated goal, the effect of Pacelli's maneuvering was hardly to advance the standing of the German Catholic Church. 'When Hitler became Pacelli's partner in negotiations,' Cornwell observes, 'the concordat thus became the supreme act of two authoritarians, while the supposed beneficiaries were correspondingly weakened, undermined, and neutralized.'The first true beneficiary was Hitler himself. TheReichskonkordat, agreed to on July 8,1933 was his first bilateral treaty with a foreign power, and as such gave him much-needed international prestige, whether the Vatican intended it or not.
"(The Vatican newspaperL'Osservatore Romano published a statement on July 2 saying that the concordat should not be taken as a moral endorsement of Nazism, and Pacelli would make the same point later.) Yet the price that Hitler demanded for the concordat was stiff: the complete withdrawal from politics (and therefore from any possible resistance to the Nazis) of all Catholics as Catholics. In negotiations with German officials, Pacelli had offered the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican as a model for the concordat, and Hitler would surely have been aware that the pope had agreed there to Mussolini's demand that the anti-fascist Catholic political party, Partito Popolare, be suppressed. Bismarck had sought to have the Vatican disown the Center Party, which it refused to do."
Now Hitler made that a key demand, and the Vatican acquiesced. On July 4, in the final run-up to the agreement, the leader of the Center Party, Heinrich Bruning, who had served as Germany's chancellor from 1930 to 1932, consented 'with bitterness in his heart, to dissolve the party.' Hitler wanted the Center Party gone because it represented the last potential impediment to his program. In truth, Pacelli wanted it gone for the same reason – for the sake of his own program. But there is evidence that the unseemly rapidity of the Center Party's demise startled Pacelli, and, perhaps, embarrassed him. Even before the Concordat was formally signed, the Center Party ceased to exist. As would quickly become clear, the Nazis were prepared to stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Soon enough, blood would be flowing in the streets, the opposition press shut down, and the constitution abrogated. But in 1933, Hitler was not remotely what he would become, and the connivance of the Roman Catholic Church in these months of transition is part of what enabled him to emerge as a dictator. The Catholic people – there were more members of Catholic youth associations than there were of the Hitler Youth – were the last possible obstacle in Hitler's way. [p. 498-499] As a baptized Catholic himself, he (Hitler) would have been intimately aware of the courageous and wily history of the victorious Catholic campaign during the Kulturkampf. But instead of being called by the Church - by the pope himself - to 'passive resistance,' as their parents and grandparents had been, Catholics were encouraged to look for what they had in common with Nazis. And they would find it. The Reichskonkordat effectively removed the German Catholic Church from any continued role of opposition to Hitler. More than that, as Hitler told his cabinet on July 14, it established a context that would be 'especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry.'The deep well of Catholic antisemitism would be tapped, to run as freely as any stream of hate in Germany. The positive side of the long-standing ambivalence, which had again and again been the source of impulses to protect Jews, would now be eliminated, allowing the negative side to metastasize. 'This was the reality,' Cornwell comments, ' of the moral abyss into which Pacelli the future Pontiff ' - he would become Pius XII in 1939 - 'had led the once great and proud German Catholic Church.' " [Hitler's Pope, p. 499-500 ]
"The concordat's significance to Hitler at that crucial moment is hard to overemphasize. 'The long drive against the alleged atheistic tendencies of our Party is now silenced by Church authority,' one Nazi Party organ crowed. 'This represents an enormous strengthening of the National Socialist government.' We saw thatL'Osservatore Romano had refuted (or denied) the claim that the concordat meant Church approval of Nazism, but the German bishops made it seem otherwise. [p. 504 ]The full import of the Vatican agreement with the Third Reich was perhaps best described by a later dispatch from those same bishops. They sent it from their formal meeting at Fulda two eventful years later. On August 20, 1935, the prelates defended Pius XI (1922-1939) by presuming to remind Hitler that His Holiness had 'exchanged the handshake of trust with you through the concordat - the first foreign sovereign to do so. . . Pope Pius XI spoke high praise of you . . . Millions in foreign countries, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, have overcome their original mistrust because of this expression of papal trust and have placed their trust in your regime.' Cardinal Michael Faulhaber of Munich, in a sermon in 1937, declared,
"Hitler had other reasons for welcoming the concordat, one to do with his plans for the army, and the other with his plans for the Jews. A 'secret annex' to the treaty, finalized some months after the promulgation and not publicized, granted Catholic clergy an exemption from any conscription imposed on German males in the event of universal military service. Since Germany was still expressly forbidden by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles to raise a large army, Hitler could regard this provision as the Vatican's tacit acquiescence before a campaign of German rearmament. As Papen wrote to Hitler at the time, this provision was important for Germany less 'for the content of the regulation than for the fact that here the Holy See is already reaching a treaty agreement with us for the event of general military service.” Papen concluded his brief on the secret annex with a note of smug ingratiation. 'I hope this agreement will therefore be pleasing to you ”.We noted earlier that an article in the July 2,1933, issue ofL'Osservatore Romano had insisted that no Vatican endorsement of Nazi teaching should be inferred from the Concordat, but Hitler himself saw it otherwise. The treaty with the Holy See had both spiritual resonance and political implication, for it was a world-stage rebuttal to those who accused him of being anti-religious, and it established diplomatic recognition for the famously neutral Vatican at a time when other powers were still eyeing him with suspicion." [p. 505]
"Especially in hindsight, defenders of the Vatican's readiness to enter into such a treaty with Hitler insist that it was nothing more than realpolitik. diplomacy designed to safeguard the political and social rights of Catholics in a hostile climate, a way in which the Church hoped to temper Nazi extremes to the benefit of all concerned. In this view, Pacelli’s own wariness at the time of the treaty is emphasized. But is it conceivable that Pacelli would have negotiated any such agreement with theBolsheviks in Moscow? Gordon Zahn, the American scholar of Hitler-era German Catholicism, reports that Cardinal Faulhaber and other bishops dismissed such a notion, and in the act defined the concordat as a Church endorsement of the Nazi regime. Pacelli's defenders say he wanted the treaty as a basis for future protests against Nazi excesses, and indeed the Church would use it as such. But to Catholics in Germany at that pivotal time including leaders like (Bishop) Bornewasser, the concordat was, and would remain the soul of a compliant Catholic conscience that saw the way clear to support Hitler and his program.
But the Catholic Church made no attempt to revoke the Concordat and its loyalty clause during the Nazi regime. Indeed,the 1933 Concordat is the only diplomatic accord negotiated with the Nazi regime that remains in force anywhere in the world." [ from The Great Scandal, relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Nazism ]
Horst Wessel was a young Nazi who was assassinated for unknown reasons in 1930, before the Nazis came to power, and then made into a glorious martyr and a substitute for Jesus of Nazareth. Here's one example of the use the Nazis made of this "martyr":
at the Reichsparteitag 1934:
"We are Hitler’s joyous youth,
What need we Christian virtue!,
Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler
Is always our redeemer!
No wicked priest can hinder us,
To sense that we are Hitler’s children;
We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel,
Away with incense and holy water!
The Church can go hang for all we care,
The Swastika brings salvation on Earth.."
[ The lyrics appear to have changed considerably over the years. The above are quoted by Joseph Wulf, Literatur und Dichtung im Dritten Reich (Gütersloh: Sigbert Mohn Verlag, 1963), p. 299.]This was the organization that Catholics who had belonged to Catholic youth groups were allowed to join once Hitler came to power, the group that the future Pope Benedict XVI belonged to. How weak the Catholic clergy must have been to have accepted such humiliation without more of a fight!
www.Concordat Watch is a great site overseeing all of the concordats the Catholic Church has established throughout the world to exert its influence in any number of countries.
www.SpirituallySmart.com/nazi.html has a lot of great material, some of which I have used on this page.
The 1939 Concordat with Fascist Spain : Pius XII & Franco :
. . .one such blessing is cited by a report in Deutsche-Welle: "It was thus with great joy that it [the Catholic Church] watched Franco take power in 1939. The newly ordained pope Pius XII congratulated the victorious dictator Franco with enthusiasm. Pius XII said, ‘By lifting our hearts to God we together with your Excellency give thanks for the much desired victory of Catholic Spain. We hope that this precious land, now that peace has finally been attained, will return to the old Catholic traditions that made it so great. We grant your Excellency and the entire noble Spanish people our apostolic blessing.’ ”The Catholic Church’s campaign of beatifications in Spain began immediately after Franco’s victory in 1939. During the next 36 years of dictatorship, the Catholic Church was an integral part of the fascist state and justified its actions as a necessary purification of Spain of the red Antichrists. This relationship was formalised in 1953 with the signing of a church-state accord making Catholicism the state religion and according it enormous privileges.In the years prior to Franco’s death in 1975 and the collapse of his regime, the Church sought to distance itself from Franco’s state. The Church positioned itself in the camp of opposition to Franco as a revolutionary crisis broke out. It made public statements regretting having taken sides and of becoming part of the dictatorship."