Garbled Accounts In . Nazi Press
From Our German Correspondent In recent years almost all joint pastoral letters of the German hierarchy have been the object of some hostile measure of the Nazi Government. The letter of June, 1934, was forbidden and could not be read by German Catholics. Later pastoral letters could not be published. but had to be delivered to each priest by a special messenger under extraordinary precautions. No newspaper was allowed to refer to the text; but a few Nazi papers published vehement attacks.
This week, however, all German papers contained in a more or less sensational form a few sentences from the new pastoral which was issued on August 20 by the Fulda episcopal conference and was read from all pulpits last Sunday. That does not mean, of course, that the episcopal letter can be freely quoted. The first third and last third of it where the Nazi policy is criticised are taboo, but the middle section where Bolshevism is dealt with is eagerly exploited.
The impression is to be created that the German hierarchy has recognised Hitler's mission to save the world of Bolshevism and the Nazi party's claim to be 'the most effective power in the fight against Bolshevism.
Real Meaning of the Letter
I have read the original text of the episcopal letter four or five times and must say that that impression is not true. I shall give a fuller analysis next week, but want to make a few things clear immediately.
The pastoral letter states that the situation of the Church in Germany has become worse and worse, that Catholics have suffered grave losses and injustices and that they have brought all their sorrows to Fulda before the tomb of St. Boniface who made Germany a Christian country. The bishops have again sent a memorandum with their complaints to Herr Hitler.
The letter refers to the Bolshevist world danger and the events in Spain, stating that Germany's situation is particularly delicate and that the whole nation should be united in the fight against Bolshevism. The unity is, however, systematically disturbed by anti-Christian and anti-Catholic circles. Communism cannot be overcome by violence. but only by a Christianization or reChristianization of the nations of the world. Those who in Germany attack Christianity and the Church are not really fighting Communism, but helping it. The bishops say literally: " Those who do not reject Bolshevism in the religious sphere, will open 'the door in the political and economical sphere, and no earthly power will be able to close that door again."
The bishops protest against the defamation which is spread by German newspapers, books and magazines, suggesting that Bolshevism and Catholicsm are allies. Russia. Mexico and Spain prove that the Bolsheviks see in the Church, the clergy and the religious congregations their main enemy.
Seven times the pastoral letter says, " We do not understand this. How can a State which claims to fight against Communism be at the same time weakening the only effective spiritual power against Bolshevism,"