"The Greatest Mortal Is only A Man "
The Immorality Charges
IN THE MIDDLE OF SATURDAY NIGHT MANY GERMAN PRIESTS WERE AWAKENED, NOT TO A SICK-CALL, BUT TO RECEIVE A LETTER. IT WAS THE PAPAL ENCYCLICAL TO BE READ IN THE PULPIT ON SUNDAY BEFORE THE GERMAN SECRET '?OLICE COULD PREVENT ITS DISTRIBUTION.
In this dramatic way the Pope, after issuing to the whole world an encyclical on Christianity and Communism, turned specifically to the question of Christianity and Nazism and showed that the same fundamental error underlay both doctrines: man's attempt to be like unto God.
In the case of Germany, however, the Pope has still faint hope of a maintenance of the pledge between Church and State, but the hope has not prevented him from openly denouncing " the other side when it is made into an ordinary rule arbitrarily to destroy the nature of signed pacts . . . and to violate them more or less openly.
Nor does the Pope disguise his belief that things have come to such a pass that there is placed before German Catholics the fateful choice between generous heroism or assent to false philosophy, between heroic salvation or perdition.
There are three essential principles in this Encyclical: pledges must be maintained and there can be no State necessity which excuses the breaking of them; Liberty cannot be infringed by the State in matters that pertain to man's essential prerogatives; and no State may issue a political programme which rests on the State being virtually deified.
So far the only semi-official reaction of Germany has been the callous statement printed in a Government inspired paper that. "loyalty towards a treaty cannot always and in every case be regarded as obligatory. The primitive rigid and formal adherence to contracts, in the sense that undertakings once given must in all circumstances be literally carried out, even though this may involve the destruction of the highest values, is giving way more and more to the demands which justice and reason and a sound sense of equity are justified in making."
one of all times, let him know that he is a prophet of chimeras."
His Holiness then expounds the mission and work of the Catholic Church, destined to cover the entire world, and through which peoples of every tongue may exercise the qualities and duties assigned to them by God.
Referring, without ;petitioning them, sto the charges of immorality brought by 'the Nazis against Catholic religious, the Pope, in exhorting priests and laity to fulfil their sacred duty better, points out how important it is not to exaggerate human failings, which no doubt are numerous even among the members of the Church, when it is certain that there are also innumerable virtues among the faithful and much graver and more frequent miseries to be found among those hostile to the Church.
It is surprising, the Pope. exclaims, to find men judging the Church so very rigorously when they themselves are so indulgent in regard to other societies more pleasing or useful to them; this contrast shows how a hypocritical sense of purity can he conveniently clouded over and reminds one of our Saviour's caution against those who see the mote in the eyes of their brothers without seeing the beam in their own.
Addressing himself in particular to the religious, priests, monks and nuns of Germany, the Pope thanks them for their work, carried out at a time when they have been dragged away from their beloved fields of activity, and assures them that the fact that a certain number may have failed in their calling or shown themselves unworthy of it, does not in the least diminish the merits of the devotion and disinterestedness of the great majority.
The Supreme Choice
The Pope goes on to deplore the opposition in Germany to confessional schools and Christian education, an opposition which takes the form of shackling the liberty and rights of Catholic parents: "by means of pressure, hidden or avowed, by intimidations, by presenting pictures of possible economic, professional, civil. and other advantages, those loyal to the Catholic Faith, and more especially certain classes of Catholic functionaries are forced to suffer a violence as illegal as it is inhuman.
With regard to the recent school registrations in which the Catholics lost so much ground, the Pope declares that a secret ballot would show by an overwhelming majority the loyalty of Catholic parents to the Church.
" Paternally moved, we feel and profoundly suffer with all who have paid so dearly for their attachment to Christ and His Church; and things have now reached such a pass that the supreme and highest end has moved into sight, namely salvation or perdition, and thus the one and only way of salvation for believers is the way of generous heroism."
His Holiness ends his letter by sending an affectionate cap to youth, to the clergy, secular and regular, to the laity, and to all who fight in the ranks of Catholic Action, stressing the hope that the children who have strayed from the Church and that the Church's persecutors should recognise their errors, and praying that, the day of repentance will soon come: " the swift coming of that hour is the object of our incessant prayers."