Page 1, 8th June 1945

8th June 1945
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In his Allocution to the Cardinals on his feast day, the Holy Father surveyed the rise of National Socialism and described in detail the nature of its persecution of the Church.

He expressed his horror of methods of Government which have not ceased to exist since the fall of Hitler's Germany.

The text of the Pope's speech follows and comment about it will be found in a leading article on page four.

The Pope said: In gratefully acknowledging the wishes offered in your name by the Dean of the Sacred College, our thoughts go hack six ycars, when on this same day you offered us good Stoshes for the first time after our ele vation to the Chair of Peter. Then the world was SIN at peace, but what a peace and how precarious 1 " With our heart full of anguish, In perplexity and prayer, we watched over that peace as a person watches over the bed of a. dying man, while fighting against all hope to save him from the throes of death. From the words we then addressed to you could be gathered our sorrowful apprehension at Inc growing threat of the outbreak of a conflict whose extentand duration no one could have foreseen. Subsequent events not only proved our forecasts all too true, but indeed exceeded them.

" To-day, after almost six years, the fratricidal struggle has ceased—at least in one part of this earth devastated by the war. This peace, if it can be so called at all, is still extremely fragile andwill not be lasting or firm without constant watchfulness: a peace whose protection imposes on the Church, both on the shepherd and the flock, heavy and very delicate duties, patience and prudence, courage and a spirit of sacrifice. Everyone is called to devote himself to these duties, at his post. In this no one can ever IN too careful or too zealous.

THE DISASTER FORESEEN "In Europe the war is over, but what wounds has it not inflicted I Our Divine Master has said 'Who takes up the sward shall perish by the sword.' Now, what do you see ? You see the legacy of the ideas and actions of a State which takes no heed of the most sacred ideals of mankind, which tramples on the inviolable principles of the Christian faith. The whole world today contemplates with stupefaction the disaster that it left behind.

" This disaster we had foreseen when it wax still in the distant future, and few, we believe, have followed with greater anxiety the process leading to the inevitable crash. For over twelve years—twelve of the best years of our mature age—we had lived in the midst of the German people, fulfilling the duties of the Office committed to us. During that time, in that freedom which the political and social conditions allowed us, we worked for the consolidation of the status of the Catholic Church in Germany. We thus had occasion to learn the great qualities of that people, and we were personally in close contact with its most representative men.

" For that reason we cherish the faith that it can rise to a new dignity and new life when once it has cast off the Satanic spectre raised by kational Socialism, and the guilty, as we have already at other times had occasion to expound, have expiated the crimes they have committed.

" While there was still some faint glimmer of hope that the movement could take another and less disastrous course, either through the disillusionment of its more moderate members, or through effective opposition from that section of the German people which opposed it, the Church did everything possible to set up a formidable barrier to the spread of ideas at once subversive and violent,


"In the spring of 1933, the Getman Government asked the Holy Sce to conclude a Concordat with the Reich. The proposalhad the approval of the Episcopate and of at least the greater num

ber of German Catholics. hi fact, they thought [hat neither the Concordat, up to then negotiated with some individual German States, nor the Weimar Constitution, gave adequate guarantee or assurance of respect for their convictions. for their faith, rights or liberty of action. 111, such conditions these guarantees cold not be secured, except through a settlement having the solemn form of a Concordat' with the Central Government of the Reich.

" It.should be added that since it was the German Government that made the proposal, the responsibility for all regrettable consequences would have fallen on the Holy See if it had refused

the proposed Concordat. It was not that the Church, for her part, had any illusions, sir that in concluding the Concordat she had the intention of giving any formal approval to the teachings of tendencies or National Socialism. This was expressly declared and explained at the time. It must, however, be recognised that the Concordat in the years that followed brought some advantages, or at least prevented worse evils. In fact, despite all the violations to which it was subjected, it gave Catholics a juridical basis for their defence. a stronghold behind which to shield themselves in their opposition, as long as this was possible, to the everrising flood. of religious persecution.

"The 'struggle against the Church did in fact become ever more bitter. There was the dissolution of the Catholic organisations, the gradual suppression of the flourishing Catholic schools, both public and private, the enforced weaning of youth from family and Church. the pressure brought to bear on the conscience of citizens, and especially of Civil Servants„ the systematic defamation. by means of a clever, well-organised' propaganda, of the Church, the clergy the faithful, the Church's institutions, teaching and history, the closing, dissolution and confiscation of religious houses and other ecclesiastical institutions, the complete suppression of the Catholic press and publishing houses.

"To resist such attacks millions of courageous Catholics,' men and women, closed their ranks round their Bishops, whose courageous and stern pronouncements never failed to resound even in these last years of war. These Catholics gathered round their priests to help them adapt their ministry to the eve, changing needs and conditions, and, right up to, the end; they opposed to the forces of impiety and pride their forces of faith, prayer and openly Catholic behaviour and education. In the meantime, the Holy Sec itself unhesitatingly multiplied its representations and protests to governing authorities in Germany, reminding them in clear and energetic language of their duly to respect and fulfil the obligations of the Natural Law confirmed by the Concofdat.

PIUS XI's. DENUNCIATION In those critical years, joining the alert vigilance of a pastor to the longsuffering patience of a father, our great predecessor. Pius XI. fulfilled his mission as Supreme Pontiff with intrepid courage, But when, after he had tried all means of persuasion in vain, he saw himself clearly faced With deliberate violations of a solemn pact, with a religious persecution masked or open, but always vigorously organised, he proclaimed to the world oa Passion Sunday, 1937, in his Encyclical Mit Biennender ,Sorge what National Socialism really was—the arrogant apostasy from Jesus Christ, the denial of His doctrine and of His work of redemption, the cult of violence, the idolatry of race and blood, the overthrow of human liberty and dignity.

" Like a clarion call, the Papal document with its vigorous terms—too vigorous thought more than one at the time—startled the minds and „hearts of men. Many, even beyond the frontiers of Germany who, up to then, had closed their eyes to the incompatibility of the National Socialist viewpoint with the teachings ot Christ, had to recognise and confess their mistake. Many, but not all. Some, even among the faithful themselves, were too blinded by their prejudices or allured by political advantage. The evidence of the facts, denounced by our predecessor, did not convince them, much less induce them, to change their ways. Is it mere ehanoe that some regions, which later suffered more from the National Socialist system, welt precisely those where the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge was less or not at all heeded ?


" Would it then have been possible, by opportune and timely political ac tion, to block once and for all the out break of brutal violence and to put the German people in the position to shake off the tentacles that were strangling it ? Would it have been possible thus to have saved Europe and the world from this immense inundation of

blood '1 No one would dare to give an unqualified judgment, but in any

case no one could accuse the Church

of not having denounced and exposed in time the true nature of the National

Socialist Movement and the danger to which it exposed Christian civilisation. " Whoever sets up race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental element of the barren community to be the supreme norm of all, even of re ligious valises. and defies them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God. The radical opposition of the National Socialist State to the Catholic Church is summed up in this declaration of the Encyclical. When things had reached this point the Church could not, without foregoing her mission, any hanger refuse to take her stand before the whole world. But by doing so she became once again ' sign which shall be contradicted ' in the presence of which contrasting opinions divided into two opposed camps. " German Catholics were, one may My, at one in recognising that the En

cyclical Mit Brennender Sorge had brought light, direction, consolation and comfort to all those who seriously meditated and conscientiously practised the religion of Christ.

" But the reaction of those who had been inculpated was inevitable, and, in fact, that very year, 1937, was. fot the Catholic Church in Germany, a year of indescribable bitterness and terrible outbreaks.

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