From Our German Correspondent April 18, 1939, was a black day for Catholic Rhineland. By a decree of the Nazi authorities all Catholic and Protestant elementary schools were abolished and transformed into Nazi common schools. The change was " symbolically " indicated by the immediate removal of the crucifix from all class rooms.
In the most Catholic part of Germany not a single Catholic elementary school and hardly any Catholic secondary school is left.
A year ago there were altogether 4,828 elementary schools with 19,875 classes and 912,320 pupils in the Rhine Province. Of these 4,828
schools 3,317 were Catholic, 1,376 Protestant, 16 Jewish and only 119 mixed. The Catholic schools were attended by 651,518 children.
In the Rhineland the suppression of the Catholic school was not carried through on the basis of a so-called parents' plebiscite," but against the formally expressed will of the overwhelming majority of the parents.
When in Bavaria and other parts of the Reich the Nazis organised their " plebiscite," the Catholics in the Rhineland decided immediately to start a counter-agitation before it was too late. The clergy asked all parents to sign a petition by which they requested the maintenance of Catholic schools for their children. The lists of signatures were communicated to the State authorities.
The result—unfortunately the only result—was that the abolition of Catholic education was postponed until it was finished in most other parts of Germany.
BREAKING THE CONCORDAT Since 1035 the Nazis hare suppressed about 17,000 Catholic elementary schools out of a total of about 20,000.
Those two or three thousand Catholic schools which are still in existence in Silesia, East Prussia, Hanover and elsewhere will certainly be transformed into Nazi common schools within a few months or even within a few weeks. Article 23 of the Concordat which " guarantees " the Catholic schools is completely destroyed.
CARDINAL'S PASTORAL Cardinal Schulte, Archbishop of Cologne, and Bishop Streeter, Apostolic Administrator of Aix-la-Chapelle, have issued pastoral letters protesting against the suppression of all Catholic schools and replying to the arguments of the Nazis, e.g., the allegation that in most other countries State schools are nondenominational.
Bishop Streeter states that in all other Western countries Catholics have the right to start their own private schools, while in Germany the State has a school monopoly and parents have no puma bility of keeping their children away from schools the teaching of which is open to grave objections.
" SOLEMNLY GUARANTEED" At the same time that all Catholic schools were suppressed in the Rhineland, the farewell letter of Mgr. Wolker, the last ecclesiastical director of the Catholic Young Men's Association of Germany, was made known.
After the dissolution of all diocesan federations and the confiscation of their property by the secret police, the Hierarchy tried to obtain by negotiations the withdrawal of those measures.
As Mgr. Walker explains in his farewell letter, the endeavours had no success at all. The Catholic youth associations, which had been solemnly " guaranteed " in the Reich Concordat, are not allowed to exist.
APOSTASIES IN SALZBURG Preacher Reveals Figures
Five per cent. of the 78,244 Catholics of Salzburg apostasised in 1938.
This fact was revealed by a preacher giving a mission in Salzburg Cathedral at the end of last month.
Throughout the archdiocese, however, the number of apostasies was 5,424—half per cent. of the number of Catholics. Few return to the Church, the preacher added, the figure for the archdiocese being 67, and, in the city of Salzburg, 43. It is hoped that this year a more vigorous resistance will be put up against the flow of apostasies.
Bavarian Clergy Also Lose State Subsidies
The Bavarian Ministry of Education and Religion has decided to suspend, as from April 1, all State payments to the clergy. The payment. of these sums was -fixed by the Concordat.
As a result. the financial situation of the Church will become extremely precarious.