Page 9, 31st March 1939

31st March 1939
Page 9
Page 9, 31st March 1939 — READING OF ANTI-NAZI PASTORAL

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From Our Belgian Correspondent


The pastoral was specially written by Mgr. Louis Kerkhofs. Bishop of Liege, for the Faithful of his diocese in the " recovered cantons " of Eupen-Malmedy-St. Vith.

" The Catholic religion is at this moment gravely menaced in your regions," he told his hearers, " through the doctrine of racialism, which the Holy Father .has severely condemned as contrary to faith and morals."

The Bishop went on to protest dramatically against racialist electoral propaganda appearing in Catholic newspapers without a word on the rights of God and the Church.

This was "a stab at the heart for your Bishop," he told them.

At the 11 o'clock Mass at Eupen members of the Nazi Youth Movement interrupted the reading of the pastoral with boos, cat-calls and noisy laughter.

At other churches Nazi sympathisers walked out of the churches in protest.

The disturbances in EupenMalmedy, and the persistent rumours that Hitler may try a coup in these districts has somewhat allayed the political squabbles in Belgium, and the preparations for the General Election on Sunday are proceeding more calmly.

Last Sunday, Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines and Primate of Belgium, ordered a week of prayer to secure an electoral result favourable to the security of Belgium and of Religion.

Last Sunday morning at an Masses In all churches and chapels in the " redeemed " Cantons, Eupen, Malmedy, St. Vith, a pastoral letter from the Bishop of the diocese, Mgr. Kerkhofs, was read from the pulpit.

In this Pastoral Letter the Bishop warned the Catholic faithful against National Socialism and Racist Tendencies, against which he protested.

Some churches were the scene of Incidents.

At WaIhem, near Eupen, four persons left the church in protest.

At St. Vith, several people left. But everywhere else the bulk of the Faithful showed no reaction. Everything remained calm.

At Maimedy reigned the same calm, save that at the Franciscan Church, where the Nazi supporters congregate, there was slight reaction.

At Eupen-ville-Haute, at the 10 o'clock Mass, the curate. Father Duschas, himself a German ex-combatant, a native of Westphalia in Germany, sensing the discontent, stopped in the middle of reading the letter and requested those whom the Pastoral displeased to leave the church; he added that in other countries the Faithful were glad to have pastoral letters from their Bishops. Thereupon about ten persons got up, and went out.

A pre-concerted " coup " of the Adherents of the "Heimattreue-Front" was executed at the eleven o'clock Blass.

A goodly collection of male and female members of the National Socialist Youth were present. and no sooner had the priest started to read out the Pastoral letter than they broke out into peals of laughter and whistled ehrilly. A group of partisans posted outside the church whistled back.

At Butschenbach, the Nazis created Such a disturbance that the reading of the Bishop's letter had to be stopped.

The pastoral letter was a straightfrom-the-shoulder denunciation of the racialist propaganda going on in the district.

" To our dear diocesan i of EupenMalmedy-Saint-Vith," begins the letter.

"The dangers threatening you are the greater because diverse ideas contrary to Faith have been. accepted and propagated by Catholics, and by Catholic publications to serve the aspirations of the 'race-consciousness.'

"The salvation of your souls and of your children's, supreme heritage of your forefathers, the Catholic Religion is at this moment gravely menaced in pour regions through the doctrine of racialism, which the Holy Father has severely condemned as contrary to Faith and morals.

"Your priests. the new Belgians '(forrner Germans) as well as the old Belgians, have often frankly insisted, when clearly explaining to you your lingual and national interests, on the danger of National-Socialist ideas, which are inspired by chimerical Racism.

Propagators of Heresy

"As the propagators of this heresy never tire in activity, but on the contrary publicly spread the false ideas among the Catholic people, it is our duty as Bishop to support those who nave charge of your souls, and the Faithful in the true faith.

"Consequently, we recall the clear nondemnation of present racist doctrine which Pope Pius XI proclaimed in his cncyclical to the German Hierarchy, mit Brennender Sorge.

"Racialism denies all supernatural naler, the unity and origin of the human ace, original sin, the Redemption and he Divinity of Christ. It denies the !xistence of a personal God and the 'oundation of the Church, and conceives mmortality only as a survival—a racial lurvival—of the blood in the generaions which follow.

"In the place of God they place Blood. Blood is made divine.' !"

" We Must Speak Clearly"

"Dear Diocesans!" pathetically ppeals the Bishop of Liege, ." Many away Christians do not see that from

the condemnation of the racialist doctrine necessarily follows the condemnation of all the erroneous consequences based thereon.

"And here we must speak more clearly if our pastoral letter is to fulfil its object in putting you on your guard and enlightening you 'Racist folly has given new life to the ' laicism ' previously condemned, to exaggerated Nationalism, and to the doctrine of the total absolute omnipotence of the State.

"National-Socialism seeks to banish from private and public life the Catholic Faith, and the sanctity of marriage and the family," the Bishop continued.

"—in Catholic Newspapers"

" It was a stab at the heart for your Bishop when recently he read in your newspapers, in Catholic newspapers, an electoral appeal which had not a single word for the most sublime rights of God, of the Holy Church, or of the thousandyear-old Catholic Faith of your region.

" The person who elaborates a political programme on race consciousness ' for a Catholic population is in duty bound to say explicitly on what philosophical basis this programme lies, whether it reposes on a Catholic idea or on a ' neo-pagan ' one.

" Catholic Truth May Not Be Told"

"And when in this same appeal the Catholic Vote is asked for= for men who are the blood of our blood '—when foreign publications are distributed in profusion amongst nur population, and when recently a paper for the young is published at Eupen preaching for integral National-Socialism; when your newspapers do not even reproduce the directives of the Pope and Bishops concerning these decisive questions, but participate more or less in this great plot of silence: then your Bishop must admit that among you—for a temporal and ephemeral end, Catholic truth may no longer be told.

"He must, too, admit that you are not very far from openly denying God and His Church."

Then he concludes: "We must record the sad fact that several of your leaders have accused the Church and Catholic Action of 'Political Catholicism.'

" On the basis of the documents in our possession we should in no wise be astonished to see these episcopal words of ours now uttered for enlightenment and commendment—and which we now publish after long waiting and ripe reflection — described as 'Political Catholicism: " We could then rejoice at being worthy to be in the elite company of the Pope and of the German Bishops, but we would bitterly regret it, Dear Diocesans, since it would be a crime against the Fourth Commandment in a matter extremely grave."

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