On the Catholic Chruch and the Concordat with the Nazis

Something that popped up in the comments. The Catholic Church signed up to the Concordat with the Nazis. This shows that the Catholic Church therefore supported the Nazis.

Well, I think there’s a little bit of projection going on there. Worth recalling that New Testament bit about give unto Caesar really.

And there’s obviously the realpolitick point that an organisation attempting to care for its flock has to come to some accommodation with the de facto (and in hte case of the Nazis, de jure) government of the day.

But allow me to pose the question slightly differently. The German Church did indeed say that yes, you’re the government: but it’s still wrong to kill the mentally feeble you know.

The current English Church says that the Abortion Act really is the law of the land but it’s still wrong you know.

Do we therefore say that the Church is complicit in abortion? And why is it that what the English Church currently says something that produces spitting rage in a certain segment of the population: usually, that same segment that the Concordat produces the same spitting rage in?

46 comments on “On the Catholic Chruch and the Concordat with the Nazis

  1. You get it with some businesses too. British oil companies were wrong to want the overthrow of the Iranian government. They are wrong not to want the overthrow of the Nigerian. They are blamed for supporting the sanctions on Cuba. They were condemned for breaking those on Burma.

    The Left has lost what little intellectual credibility they had. What they mean is that people are evil for an even handed enforcement of the law if it does not agree with their prejudices.

    As far as Germany went, the Church had a look at the available options – Hitler or Stalin – and did not choose all that badly based on what they knew then. And besides, they think people need Confession. They need to go to Mass. Their children need to go to Church schools. Their eternal souls depend on it. It is worth signing an agreement to ensure.

    As, of course, Britain, France, Italy, and most obviously, the USSR also did.

  2. Peter Risdon – “The Church wasn’t as monolithic as that suggests. There was a change of Pope in 1939, from one who plainly deplored fascism to one who, well, didn’t.”

    Pius XII made it clear he condemned the Nazis unequivocally. As even that cesspit of political correctness, Wikipedia, has to admit:

    Summi Pontificatus[edit]
    Summi Pontificatus was the first papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII, in October 1939 and established some of the themes of his pontificate. During the drafting of the letter, the Second World War commenced with the Nazi/Soviet invasion of Catholic Poland—the “dread tempest of war is already raging despite all Our efforts to avert it”. In a challenge to Nazism, the papal letter denounced racism, anti-semitism, war, totalitarianism, the attack on Poland and the Nazi persecution of the Church.[143]
    On racism, Pius reiterated Church teaching on the “principle of equality”—with specific reference to Jews: “there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision”.[144] The forgetting of solidarity “imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men” was called “pernicious error”.[145] Catholics everywhere were called upon to offer “compassion and help” to the victims of the war.[146] The Pope declared determination to work to hasten the return of peace and trust in prayers for justice, love and mercy, to prevail against the scourge of war.[147] The letter also decried the deaths of noncombatants.[148]
    Following themes addressed in Non abbiamo bisogno (1931); Mit brennender Sorge (1937) and Divini redemptoris (1937), Pius wrote against “anti-Christian movements” and needing to bring back to the Church those who were following “a false standard… misled by error, passion, temptation and prejudice, [who] have strayed away from faith in the true God”.[149] Pius wrote of “Christians unfortunately more in name than in fact” having showed “cowardice” in the face of persecution by these creeds, and endorsed resistance:[149]
    Who among “the Soldiers of Christ” – ecclesiastic or layman – does not feel himself incited and spurred on to a greater vigilance, to a more determined resistance, by the sight of the ever-increasing host of Christ’s enemies; as he perceives the spokesmen of these tendencies deny or in practice neglect the vivifying truths and the values inherent in belief in God and in Christ; as he perceives them wantonly break the Tables of God’s Commandments to substitute other tables and other standards stripped of the ethical content of the Revelation on Sinai, standards in which the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Cross has no place?

    — Summi Pontificatus – Pope Pius XII, Oct. 1939

    Pius wrote of a persecuted Church[150] and a time requiring “charity” for victims who had a “right” to compassion. Against the invasion of Poland and killing of civilians he wrote:[143]
    [This is an] “Hour of Darkness”… in which the spirit of violence and of discord brings indescribable suffering on mankind… The nations swept into the tragic whirlpool of war are perhaps as yet only at the “beginnings of sorrows”… but even now there reigns in thousands of families death and desolation, lamentation and misery. The blood of countless human beings, even noncombatants, raises a piteous dirge over a nation such as Our dear Poland, which, for its fidelity to the Church, for its services in the defense of Christian civilization, written in indelible characters in the annals of history, has a right to the generous and brotherly sympathy of the whole world, while it awaits, relying on the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, the hour of a resurrection in harmony with the principles of justice and true peace.

    — Summi Pontificatus – Pope Pius XII, Oct. 1939

  3. This story of the Nazi pope arose well after the war; in the immediate post war years Jewish organisations thanked the Church for doing what it could, helping to save Jews, etc.

  4. I suspect this story only became a trope of the Left when they realised the Pope opposed their beloved USSR. A bit like the Left admiring Hitler right up to Barbarossa. Principles don’t even come into it.

  5. Tim Newman – “I suspect this story only became a trope of the Left when they realised the Pope opposed their beloved USSR.”

    The Soviet Union always accused anyone who opposed them of anti-Semitism. Look at Solzhenitsyn. The Left in the West is always happy to echo them because, well, there are no enemies to the left, and besides, people like Mother Teresa make Leftists feel bad about themselves. She is doing what they only preach. Usually from positions of some comfort. Best to believe she is a hypocrite.

    “A bit like the Left admiring Hitler right up to Barbarossa. Principles don’t even come into it.”

    Working for the West’s defeat and Hitler’s victory never bothered the Left when Eric Hobsbawm or Raymond Williams did it. Nor when Ed Miliband’s Dad did it. Principles, as you say, don’t come into it. The Left continues to revere Zygmunt Bauman.

  6. Something I rattle on about a lot, but the modern progressive movement is (at least, the gentile half) post-protestant, and they retain within them that deep animus towards Catholicism.

  7. Said this repeatedly, but if you want to understand the left, if you want to understand most peoples thinking, you have to understand they think in narratives not detached logic. The story will have heroes, ugly sisters who are therefor by definition bad & should have a happy ending. Sorry, but a few philosophy lessons in the teens do not overcome the relentless patterning provided by nursery stories, fairy tales, kids TV, literature, soap operas, feature films…
    And where real life bucks the narrative demands, they feel uncomfortable & will try & bend reality back towards narrative’s requirements.
    So the humble poor are always downtrodden but worthy. The rich always grasping & evil. And the hero will always be fighting on behalf of one against the other. Doing so defines the hero..

  8. It was Rolf Hochhuff’s ‘The Deputy’ that started the Pius is an anti-semite trope. The ex-head of Romanian intelligence under communism said it was part of a KGB plot to undermine the Papacy. However, seeing that Hochhuff is an enthusiastic supporter of David Irving, it is not clear that he necessarily needed any help from that quarter.

  9. Peter Risdon said “The Church wasn’t as monolithic as that suggests. There was a change of Pope in 1939, from one who plainly deplored fascism to one who, well, didn’t.”

    I’m not quite sure what the relevance of that was supposed to be. The Concordat was signed in 1933, so under Pius XI (your one who “plainly deplored fascism”).

    Your “one who didn’t”, Pius XII, Pacelli, was one of the main people behind the idea and writing of “Mit brennender Sorge”, the encyclical condemning Nazi theories and practices that had to be secretly distributed so that it could be read out in all German Catholic churches before the Courageous State stopped it. Pacelli is supposed to have considerably toughened it up from the first drafts.

    It’s not only institutions that are complex; people are too.

  10. It may be my comment Tim is referring to. I reproduce it in full:
    ___

    on all the big issues in the last century, they have been right.

    Except for when they’ve been wrong. For example, when they entered into a Concordat with the Nazis – here’s Cardinal Faulhaber in 1937

    At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat, expressed its confidence in the new German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad.

  11. The Nazi persecution of the Jews tends to over shadow other axis atrocities. The Catholic Church certainly did not distinguish itself when dealing with the Ustase regime. While the Pope himself opposed Croat atrocities against the Serbs there were plenty of Church bureaucrats who were complicit in those atrocities.

  12. The Papacy involved itself much deeper than that. When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in 1941 the Papacy was very supportive of this, primarily because it allowed the Croatian Nazis to set up a Catholic state where there had previously been an Orthodox one. That state set about cleansing the Serbian Orthodox with a degree of enthusiasm the Germans had not, at the time, yet displayed towards the Jews. The first extermination camp (rather than concentration camp) was Jasenovic where half a million Serbs, Jews and Roma were killed. This was done with the support of the Papacy as historic records show.

    It showed the Germans what they could get away with and it absolutely compromised the Papacy, preventing them objecting to the later genocide of Jews.

  13. Do think it’s worth pointing out, when criticising the Vatican to bear in mind they were operating in the world of the time. The Pope has both a spiritual & moral role. He’s also the ‘Head of State’ of what might be regarded as the nation of Catholisism. A nation with no defensible borders superimposed over the lay world.
    In the period under discussion there would have been no reason to believe dictatorship triumphant would not be an enduring feature. All its opponents were vanquished or on the run. The Catholic church stood as if a small, weak nation on the border of a strong aggressive one. It had to contemplate its future & the future of Catholics. if a tough moral stand encouraged actions by Catholics, the result could have been no Catholics & no Papacy. We deal the cards we’re dealt. Accommodation may have been seen as preserving the institution for future benefit. Martyrdom is rarely its own reward.

    Just to clarify. I’m neither Catholic, nor Christian nor a believer in anything whatsoever. But i am a realist.

  14. Bis,

    The limits of that argument though is that the assistance and collaboration of many within the Catholic Church with the Axis did not end after it became clear that democracy would survive in a part of Europe after the war. What was there to gain in facilitating the escape of many Axis war criminals to Latin America? Clearly a great deal sympathized with the Axis powers.

    I would agree that many go too far in labeling the Pope as an anti-Semite. On the other hand his good deeds should not provide a get out of jail free card for the rest of the Church.

  15. Andy
    It’s not an argument. It’s a framework, within which to have an argument. All actions have costs. So very often one is debating relative costs.
    I’m not sure of the morality of the Vatican expediting the flight of war criminals. But I’m even more unsure of the validity of ‘war crimes’, since they’re generally assigned only to the losers & often awarded by the winners. Nuremberg & the other courts weren’t looking for the guilty they were looking for justification. Or the entire Soviet politburo would have been in the dock, for a start..

  16. “But I’m even more unsure of the validity of ‘war crimes’, since they’re generally assigned only to the losers & often awarded by the winners. Nuremberg & the other courts weren’t looking for the guilty they were looking for justification.”

    As a concept, ‘war crimes’ are recognized by most governments, including the German and Japanese governments (both during the war and now), so I am not sure why you plagued by doubt as to their validity. There has never been any doubt that the wholesale massacre of civilians and POWs for its own sake (i.e. when not justified by military necessity) is a violation the rules of war. Perpetrators of such acts are justly called ‘war criminals’ and it matters not a jot that the other side committed crimes as well.

    The Nuremberg (& other) trials were determined to follow the principles of legality as best as they could. Being the first time something like this had been attempted (notwithstanding the farcical Leipzig trials). Had the allies wanted they could have set up a series of show trials or just summarily executed the lot of them. Instead unsound documentary evidence was not relied upon and many of the accused were acquitted of specific charges.

    The soviet Politburo would never have been in the dock. As nice as it would have been to punish them there was no practical way it could have been done short of starting WW3. This doesn’t compromise the integrity of the Nuremberg trials.

    Final question: Why are you unsure of the morality of assisting Anton Pavelic escape justice?

  17. Andy
    If you want to debate the morality of war crimes & war crimes trials we’ll be here a very long time.

    For instance the entire night bombing offensive of the RAF was specifically intended to kill & injure civilians. The targets, the weapon loads, even the scheduling of the wave timings was intended to do that. That it was a campaign delivered by mail order rather than wholesale or retail makes no difference. it was in contravention of the Geneva Convention. Unlike the Luftwaffe raids on the UK which were conducted against strategic material assets.
    Having had relatives both on the receiving & bowling ends I’m neutral. I have no problem with either policy. It was a war not a legal conference.
    But to put people on trial for exactly the same thing’s hypocrisy. Which is what war war crime trials are.

  18. It’s not so much the Concordat that is the scandal that the Church was involved in, but its complicity in bringing Hitler into power.

    Von Papen (a Papal Knight) was absolutely crucial to HItler in this. As you can see from this report the Catholic Church had no problems with Hitler coming to power.

    http://the-holocaust.info/40015-01.htm

  19. Bis,

    “For instance the entire night bombing offensive of the RAF was specifically intended to kill & injure civilians. The targets, the weapon loads, even the scheduling of the wave timings was intended to do that. That it was a campaign delivered by mail order rather than wholesale or retail makes no difference. it was in contravention of the Geneva Convention. Unlike the Luftwaffe raids on the UK which were conducted against strategic material assets.”

    Except we did not try the Luftwaffe for their bombing. The only airman on the German side to be put on trial by the Allies for bombing a city was Loehr, who bombed an open city.

    Your point here is flawed in another way. A city that is unoccupied still represents a threat. It is different bombing a city even if your purpose is to kill civilians than it is to murder civilians and prisoners because your policy is to eradicate that ethnic group. That is why I mentioned killing civilians “when not justified by military necessity”. This point was certainly made at the Nuremberg trials (I believe by Telford Taylor during the Einstazgruppen trials but don’t quote me on that).

    Which takes us back to my question – what is confusing you about the morality of helping Pavelic (a man who attempting to exterminate the Serbs, Jews and Muslims of Yugoslavia) escape justice?

  20. And obviously just because one side is committing a crime doesn’t mean the concept of war crimes is without validity. It just means both sides were committing the crime but only one got punished for it,

  21. “what is confusing you about the morality of helping Pavelic (a man who attempting to exterminate the Serbs, Jews and Muslims of Yugoslavia) escape justice?”

    Who’s justice? If you’re talking about one of the relevant former Yugoslavian nations, according to their laws, none whatsoever. But putting him on trial in a court in Holland under laws not enacted in the relevant countries is morally indefensible. How would you like to be taken put on trial in Serbia for an offense not committed in Serbia, just because it seemed a good idea in Serbia?

  22. Is the answer to my question that no country had jurisdiction to try his crimes? I am no expert but I am pretty sure Yugoslavia (there were no former Yugoslavian republics in 1945) would have had jurisdiction as his crimes took place in Yugoslavia.

    Of course the real reason the Catholic Church helped him was because he was a Catholic murderer.

  23. Sorry. Never heard of him. Presumed he was something to do with the more recent fracas.
    If he should have stood trial in Yugo & the Vatican expedited his escape, I’ve no idea why.

    The answer I think your searching for is: what happens to someone said to have committed a crime where there’s no jurisdiction? Tough. How does inventing a jurisdiction make a trial moral?

    The basic objection is, once you go down this road of putting people on trial for things that are or were not necessarily crimes when or where they occurred you’re on dodgy ground. “Morality” is not a definite. Anything can be moral or immoral. You’re trusting the definers are moral themselves. Don’t forget, this was the period when the USSR was putting on trial (when they bothered) people who were not USSR nationals for supposed offenses when they were not in the USSR. And allied authorities were shipping them off to this fate. Hundreds of thousands to their deaths.

  24. We’re getting way off topic here:

    “The answer I think your searching for is: what happens to someone said to have committed a crime where there’s no jurisdiction? Tough. How does inventing a jurisdiction make a trial moral?”

    This was never a question I posed. You said there was a realpolitik for the Vatican’s relations with Nazi Germany. Indeed there was, but once Nazi Germany was defeated that excuse for assisting axis criminals looks pretty weak. You then started on this diversion over whether war crimes really exist.

    Just my own two cents, there are some moral absolutes. Most countries involved in WW2 had at certain points in their recent history subscribed to rules of war which protected civilians and POWs. Both sides during WW2 regarded the concept of war crimes as valid and accused the other side of violating those written and customary rules of law.

    “The basic objection is, once you go down this road of putting people on trial for things that are or were not necessarily crimes when or where they occurred you’re on dodgy ground.”

    Except, you we wouldn’t be. We’re talking about putting heads of states on trial for violating laws which they have at some point accepted as applying to them. It is a good thing that heads of states can no longer exterminate ethnic groups without the fear that if they get deposed they might be brought to book for it.

    “You’re trusting the definers are moral themselves. ”

    No I am not. I am trusting that the recognize atrocities committed by others and punish them accordingly.

    War crimes tribunals may well have flaws, but then so does every criminal tribunal in the world. That’s not a reason for abolishing the criminal justice system.

  25. Andy
    I advised above looking at things in the context of the times. In 1945 the Red Army was on a stop line half way across Germany & looking like it might finish the job. There were civil wars brewing in Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia & Italy itself. France was considering one. A very possible future was communist domination from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The US had spirited the entire German counter intelligence operation & what they could grab of its rocket scientists across the Atlantic. The Brits & Yanks were cuddling up to their former enemies like long lost brothers. Those they weren’t stringing up after show trials to deny a Fourth Reich a possible nucleus to coalesce around. Do you really not wonder the Vatican mightn’t have had something more to think about than the odd Yugoslavian refugee? Doubt we’ll ever know, but I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if the Vatican wasn’t aiding fleeing Nazis on the nod from London & Washington.

    It’s like Secularist talking about Vatican backing for Hitler in ’33. In ’33 boy Adolf was the flavour of the year for half the Labour Party & much admired by the Brit royal family.

    Your why I have a horror of war crime trials. Passing judgement at a distance of 70 years on things you had no experience of, on the basis of your own ideas of morality.

  26. Tim, I am quite sure you will know all of this, so my apologies for going on at length. However, it might be useful for some of your other commentors.

    From seizing control of the Catholic press (there were Catholic dailies with circulations of 250,000), to abolishing workers’ sodalities, to scheduling compulsory Hitler Youth activities in order to ensure members couldn’t attend Mass, to removing roadside shrines – in one reported case, even banning a devotional procession on the grounds of health and safety – the Nazis persecuted the Catholic Church mercilessly (source – ‘The Persecution Of The Catholic Church In The Third Reich’, published in German 1940, English translation published by the Catholic Book Club, 1942). If Neil can provide evidence of any role that the papacy as an institution played in organising the activities he complains of, rather than individual priests, I’d be very grateful to see it.

    Your original question was,

    “Why is it that the English Church currently says something that produces spitting rage in a certain segment of the population: usually, that same segment that the Concordat produces the same spitting rage in?”

    This might simply be answered by referring to what Philip Jenkins, an Anglican, has labelled ‘the last acceptable prejudice’; mere anti-Catholicism. Any excuse to have a go is good enough. In the UK, anti-Catholicism is just about the only issue upon which the hard left will, in a manner of speaking, be in communion with those of the rest of the ruling class who aren’t on the hard left. The foundation of everything we do in the country is the presence of the initials ‘FD’ on our coinage. Groups like the Liberal Democrats claim to be interested in making us into a secular society, when that is the one thing our society cannot possibly be – it can only function because the law states that the monarch is entitled to use the title ‘Fidei Defensor’. If ‘FD’ doesn’t appear on a coin, it isn’t valid money. This makes us one of the most theocratic societies on the planet, and it will never change, if only because too many people have too much invested in the idea of Harry’s nan being The Lord’s Anointed.

    For the reader of history, there’s a fascinating parallel between what we put on our coins and the practice that was very widespread in the ancient world of using coinage as a means of disseminating propaganda – see Robin Lane Fox’s comments on that activity in ‘Alexander The Great’, Vanessa Collingridge’s in ‘Boudicca’ and Matthew Dennison’s in ‘The Twelve Caesars’. Not that we would ever put propaganda on coinage. Indeed, it’s terrible of me even to suggest such a thing.

    As being anti-Catholic used to bring big rewards in the form of what used to be monastery lands, and as former monastery lands then got sold on or divided and valid title deeds were required, anti-Catholicism was battered into the British psyche very successfully and it’s been a very hard habit to break.

    A comical example of this is provided by the wonderful Victorian essayist James Hain Friswell, in his collection ‘The Gentle Life’. Of the riots which occurred at the time of the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, Friswell wrote that England was ablaze as the new calendar had been thought up by a pope.

  27. Andy – “The Catholic Church certainly did not distinguish itself when dealing with the Ustase regime. While the Pope himself opposed Croat atrocities against the Serbs there were plenty of Church bureaucrats who were complicit in those atrocities.”

    Name three. Complicit in what way? How can the Church be to blame when the Pope himself opposed whatever it was the Fascists were doing?

    Neil Craig – “The first extermination camp (rather than concentration camp) was Jasenovic where half a million Serbs, Jews and Roma were killed. This was done with the support of the Papacy as historic records show.”

    Evidence? Again, even Wikipedia admits that the Church pressured the Croats not to murder Jews there.

    “It showed the Germans what they could get away with and it absolutely compromised the Papacy, preventing them objecting to the later genocide of Jews.”

    Bollocks.

  28. Andy – “Which takes us back to my question – what is confusing you about the morality of helping Pavelic (a man who attempting to exterminate the Serbs, Jews and Muslims of Yugoslavia) escape justice?”

    But that is not the question. The question is suppose you are an Abbott of a remote monastery on the border with Spain. The War has largely passed you by because, of course, you do not read newspapers or listen to the radio. A man turns up at your door and asks for a roof for the night, saying that he is a Catholic who is fleeing Communist Oppression in his homeland.

    What do you do? What is your moral culpability if you leave investigation and judgement to the professionals and do your Christian duty by offering him a roof for the night?

  29. The “F” that is being “D”d, of course, is the Roman Catholic one (Henry VIII appointed by Pope Leo X, 1521). Not the Church of England. Not that that pendantry changes the underlying point. Or preventec the Test Acrs, etc.

  30. smfs,

    “Name three. Complicit in what way? How can the Church be to blame when the Pope himself opposed whatever it was the Fascists were doing?”

    Ivan saric, Bozidas Bralo and Mate Mugos. These three were complicit in that they wrote, preached and advocated either mass expulsion, mass extermination or forced conversions of non-Catholics in Yugoslavia.

    You were the one who claimed that “they” had been on the right side of every major moral issue. My point was that regardless of what the Pope was saying, the Catholic Church was very implicated in Axis war crimes in Yugoslavia during WW2. My suggestion was that you bear the conduct of Catholic Church bureaucrats during that period in mind before confidently pronouncing the “they” of the Church as having “always been right”.

    “even Wikipedia admits that the Church pressured the Croats not to murder Jews there.”

    It also mentions that many of them were involved in the murders. Given that you read the wikipedia article, why did you even ask me to list three?

    “But that is not the question. The question is suppose you are an Abbott of a remote monastery on the border with Spain. The War has largely passed you by because, of course, you do not read newspapers or listen to the radio. A man turns up at your door and asks for a roof for the night, saying that he is a Catholic who is fleeing Communist Oppression in his homeland.

    What do you do? What is your moral culpability if you leave investigation and judgement to the professionals and do your Christian duty by offering him a roof for the night?”

    Except that wasn’t what happened. Ante Pavelic’s crimes were not secret to those who harboured him (he was hiding in Rome, not Spain) and furnished him with a passport to make his way to Argentina.

  31. Bis,

    What exactly does whatever the soviets were doing make it right that members of the Catholic Church were hiding and assisting a man who had murdered hundreds of thousands of people? I am at a loss to see why an unrelated groups sins somehow make this okay. The Vatican Church may well have had other priorities, but what is the excuse of the man who assisted him? (HINT: The priest who helped him was a member of his Fascist organisation.)

    Describing the Nuremberg trials as “show trials” shows that you haven’t bothered to look into their procedure or method. If they were only interested in show trials, why were there so many acquittals?

    “oubt we’ll ever know, but I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if the Vatican wasn’t aiding fleeing Nazis on the nod from London & Washington.”

    Yeah maybe. Or maybe you’re just spouting off unverifiable bs.

    “It’s like Secularist talking about Vatican backing for Hitler in ’33. In ’33 boy Adolf was the flavour of the year for half the Labour Party & much admired by the Brit royal family.”

    And in 1933 he hadn’t done anything yet. In 1945 he was dead and his regime had been exposed as perpetrating almost unimaginable war crimes. There isn’t much excuse for assisting murderers escape justice. And smfs’s scenario is not what happened to Pavelic.

    “Your why I have a horror of war crime trials. Passing judgement at a distance of 70 years on things you had no experience of, on the basis of your own ideas of morality.”

    Please. The extermination of civilians (which is what Ustase did) for no reason other than the fact that you want them dead has never been okay by anyone’s code. Murder doesn’t become okay after a certain number of victims (I think there is a commandment to that effect in that book the Catholics like or something).

    I never thought I would see the day when alleged libertarians advocate letting state rules and dictators walk free despite gross violations of human rights because, well, I dunno all the kids were doing it to.

  32. It should also be mentioned that the Ustase regime had no problem styling itself as a Catholic regime that was killing for the benefit of Catholicism (although it seems I was mistaken about them possessing an animus towards Muslims), although I am sure most Catholics today would describe Ustase as being incorrect in their views or not proper Catholics.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usta%C5%A1e.

  33. Andy
    You can wave as many bleeding stumps as you like. It’s a matter of principle. I don’t like war crime trials & I don’t like ‘crimes against humanity’ trials. They’re bullsh*t.
    If a person commits a crime in a country, that country has a right to try the person & pass any sentence they like, if the outcome’s guilty. Providing there’s an extradition treaty, third part countries can apprehend & return for trial. That’s it.
    So did Spain have an extradition treaty with whichever Yugoslav nation you think he committed crimes in?

  34. Bis,

    There is also the principle that heads of state who have murdered hundreds of thousands should get away with it. I am sure some war crime tribunals are bs. There are certainly criticisms that can be leveled at the Nuremberg trials, but simply saying “well the Communists were just as bad” is childish. The Nuremberg trials were definitely *not* a show trial.

    “If a person commits a crime in a country, that country has a right to try the person & pass any sentence they like, if the outcome’s guilty. Providing there’s an extradition treaty, third part countries can apprehend & return for trial. That’s it.”

    Good, so you agree that the Catholic priest that assisted Pavelic should have been handed over to the Italian authorities rather than hidden in a series of religious buildings and then furnished with a fake passport.

    “So did Spain have an extradition treaty with whichever Yugoslav nation you think he committed crimes in?”

    Well this took place in Italy so I have no idea. Certainly the lack of an extradition treaty wouldn’t have been a bar to Italy deporting him. As I understand it, the purpose of extradition treaties isn’t to protect the individual but to get around national sovereignty.

    But even had the authorities had refused, there was no realpolitik reason, and no good moral reason, for members of the Church to hide him.

  35. Andy – “Ivan saric, Bozidas Bralo and Mate Mugos. These three were complicit in that they wrote, preached and advocated either mass expulsion, mass extermination or forced conversions of non-Catholics in Yugoslavia”

    Saric does not seem to have ever advocated mass or even minor exterminations. The other two were minor former priests. I will agree the Church is, unfortunately, unable to police the actions of every single person who has ever joined. But I do notice you passing over the frequent and loud condemnations of anti-Semitism and violence by the Church hierarchy. People like Archbishop Stepinac. Mind you, what would he know? He was just the person in charge of the Church in Croatia.

    All men and all races are children of God; all without distinction. Those who are Gypsies, black, European, or Aryan all have the same rights. . . . For this reason, the Catholic Church had always condemned, and continues to condemn, all injustice and all violence committed in the name of theories of class, race, or nationality. It is not permissible to persecute Gypsies or Jews because they are thought to be an inferior race.

    — 24 October 1942 Speech by Archbishop Stepinac.

    “You were the one who claimed that “they” had been on the right side of every major moral issue. My point was that regardless of what the Pope was saying, the Catholic Church was very implicated in Axis war crimes in Yugoslavia during WW2.”

    That is, you lied. They were right on this issue. Because they were not implicated in any way whatsoever in Axis War Crimes in Yugoslavia.

    “Except that wasn’t what happened. Ante Pavelic’s crimes were not secret to those who harboured him (he was hiding in Rome, not Spain) and furnished him with a passport to make his way to Argentina.”

    Umm, yes they were. Moral responsibility was not clear either as Pavelic had always denied ordering any crimes. He always claimed it was people disobeying his orders. He also hid in Rome. It was not like he was telling everyone who he was.

  36. As an Anglican, I am not expected to defend the Roman Catholic part of the Church but as a would-be mathematician I am committed to the truth and I am married to a historian who is naturally dedicated to historical truth.
    i) Richard has completely got Pius XI and XII the wrong way round and seems to think a concordat in Austria in 1933, five years before the Anschluss was a treaty approving Hitler. Well, duh! – he should change his name to Homer.
    The later Concordat with the German Reich was principally a restatement of the rights of the Catholic Church at the minor expense of Protestants.
    ii) Croatia against Serbia was not noticeably about religion: the Serbs were royalists: the Croats were not and the mistaken Allied support for the Croat communists under Tito was nothing to do with religion but solely due to false intelligence sent by Communists who had infiltrated British Intelligence. Yes, the Ustasha did exist and was very nasty but it was (a) totally anti-Christian and (b) would have been wiped out when the Germans left whether or not Stalin had taken control.
    More later- that is enough for one post

  37. “Saric does not seem to have ever advocated mass or even minor exterminations.”

    This is contrary to what most historians write of him.

    “But I do notice you passing over the frequent and loud condemnations of anti-Semitism and violence by the Church hierarchy. People like Archbishop Stepinac. Mind you, what would he know? He was just the person in charge of the Church in Croatia.”

    Except I haven’t. I have never claimed that all or even the high ranking Church authorities supported the massacres. Look at what I actually said, rather than what you’ve imagined I said: “The Catholic Church certainly did not distinguish itself when dealing with the Ustase regime. While the Pope himself opposed Croat atrocities against the Serbs there were plenty of Church bureaucrats who were complicit in those atrocities.” None of that is false, although I suppose you are free to hold that a large number of low level priests supporting a genocidal regime is no biggie.

    “That is, you lied. They were right on this issue. Because they were not implicated in any way whatsoever in Axis War Crimes in Yugoslavia.”

    Not quite. A number of them were right, and yes this includes the high ranking ones. But a disconcerting number actively supported Croatian crimes, or the regime generally.

    “Umm, yes they were. Moral responsibility was not clear either as Pavelic had always denied ordering any crimes. He always claimed it was people disobeying his orders.”

    Actually it was clear. Pavelic’s claims that his subordinates were disobeying his orders is about as convincing as David Irving’s claims that Hitler didn’t sanction the Holocaust. In any case, he would have still been liable for failing to restrain his forces. The proper thing would have been to turn him over to the Yugoslavs.

    “He also hid in Rome. It was not like he was telling everyone who he was.”

    I suppose it could have been a coincidence that an Ustasa priest managed to get him a fake passport, although it seems a pretty large one.

  38. “Croatia against Serbia was not noticeably about religion: the Serbs were royalists: the Croats were not and the mistaken Allied support for the Croat communists under Tito was nothing to do with religion but solely due to false intelligence sent by Communists who had infiltrated British Intelligence. Yes, the Ustasha did exist and was very nasty but it was (a) totally anti-Christian and (b) would have been wiped out when the Germans left whether or not Stalin had taken control.”

    The Ustasha regime was as Catholic as Al-Qaeda are Islamic. Both were fanatical adherents of their respective religions and regard(ed) themselves as doing good work on their religion’s behalf. Religion was indeed a very important part of what was going on there during WW2, although the Ustasha also seemed to have exhibited a racial animus towards the Serbs as well.

  39. john77: I think we were discussing the Reichskonkordat of July 1933, not the Concordat with Austria signed a few weeks earlier.

    The Reichskonkordat wasn’t an expression of Catholic support for the Nazis, but it was a thoroughly immoral treaty – a pact with the devil.

    I understand the argument about realpolitik, but it was poorly judged even on that basis. As Cardinal Faulhaber said, it was a great help to the Nazi government internationally. And internally Hitler used it to help him consolidate dictatorial power. In return, the Catholic Church got roughly nothing – Hitler ignored the concordat whenever he felt like it.

  40. @PaulB
    Sorry but i can’t follow your reasoning in that post. You seem to be expecting the Vatican to be acting with the foreknowledge of ’45 in ’33. In ’33 it’s already got the example in the Soviet Union of what happens to religious interests when they get in the way of atheist dictatorships.
    So the Nazi Party were anti-semitic. So what? Anti-semitism was part & parcel of Central & Eastern European culture. See Russian pograms etc. Which were the governments of Europe weren’t anti-semitic to some degree? France?
    You seem to be expecting the Vatican to engage in a confrontation with the Nazis at a time when that German government was being generally welcomed in capitals around the world.

  41. ‘Pius XII made it clear he condemned the Nazis unequivocally.’

    Quite true.

    He came *that* close to excommunicating Hitler. If Herr Hitler had gone only a little bit further, he would have been thrown off the numbers of Catholics in the world.

    That’s how close it came to excommunicating him.

  42. Steven

    Hmm…
    Yes, we gather that Hitler was Baptised…

    But can you explain what is the point of excommunicating,
    1. a self-confessed pagan.
    2. a person who was not claiming to be Catholic.
    3. A person not attending Mass / Sacraments.

    and finally someone who had already probably automatically excommunicated himself.

  43. It’s being argued that the Catholic Church had to agree the Concordat to protect Catholics from Nazi persecution. And that it couldn’t possibly have known about Nazi persecution.

    Here are a few dates:

    6 March 1933: election in which the Nazis received 43.9% of the vote and formed a coalition government.

    23 March, 1933: the Nazis force an Enabling Act through the Reichstag, giving Hitler dictatorial powers – Germany is now de facto a one-party state

    12 April 1933: Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, writes to Pope Pius XI appealing to him to speak out against Nazi persecution. (She was later murdered by the Nazis.)

    13 April 1933: Attlee in an adjournment debate “I do not know what the Prime Minister’s view of the Hitler movement is. I was struck by one phrase in his speech on the 23rd March, in which he talked of national life being revitalised. I do not know whether that was a euphemism for Hitlerism, but it looked as if he regarded that as a revitalisation of national life. It may he a resurgence of crude nationalism, but I should have thought it was not revitalisation but a reintroduction of death in the near future.”

    2 May 1933: German trades unions abolished

    14 July 1933: all political parties apart from the Nazis are banned – Germany is now de jure a one-party state

    Compulsory sterilization law passed

    20 July 1933: Reichskonkordat signed

    12 November 1933: one-party elections held, election posters tell Catholics that the Reichskonkordat obliges Catholics to vote for the Nazis. The Nazis receive 92.1% of the vote.

    20 August 1935: Catholics bishops conference reminds Hitler that “At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat, expressed its confidence in the new German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad.”

  44. Tim,

    Here’s a poem, on religion or woo,
    for superstitious folk, like you.

    EUDEMONIA (Poetical reflections from a life of nearly sixty
    years as an apostate from religion, {largely thanks to
    Darwin}, and nearly fifty years as a Humanist.)

    The effects of religion are many and various;
    some are benign, others are deadly serious.
    Faith in ideas that are, in part, anachronistic,
    deals death and destruction through sectarian conflict.
    But now a new era beckons, where Humanity could be,
    as reason infers, one great family.

    Gods and spirits belong myth and superstition,
    so let’s contrast religion with secular Humanism.

    The Christian’s Jehovah is the Almighty Lord God;
    he lords it over Heaven, though he’s an amoral clod.
    A minor god, called Satan, runs the show in Hell,
    where God sends sinners to be tortured, & atheists as well!
    Confused by Christian dogma, no god-fearing fogey
    can fathom the nature of that Bible Bogey.

    Gods and spirits and angels and the Devil;
    how could eternal punishment ever be ethical?

    This god’s his father, his son, and an apotropaic ghost too!
    Christians indoctrinate children with that ludicrous woo.
    They claim that their god, in its Empyrean lair,
    is omniscient, omnipotent, beneficent and fair,
    but with the problem of theodicy remaining unresolved,
    their god, from its moral turpitude, can’t be absolved.

    Gods and spirits and angelic choirs in song;
    indoctrinating children with religion is wrong.

    The Jew’s Yahweh is a meshuggeneh and jerk;
    he set Jews strict rules on when to work,
    how to dress, and what to sup or sip,
    and giving baby boys the snip.
    Mythopoeic, Bronze Age, goat-herding nomads,
    got Jews, metaphorically, by the gonads.

    Gods and spirits and the Devil too;
    are any of them kosher, and what about you?

    The Moslem’s Allah is a fierce great djinn;
    he demands under ‘Islam’, literally, ‘Submission’.
    Apostasy is treated just like a crime;
    they’ll threaten to kill you, to keep you in line.
    And if you dare to draw Mohammad in a comic cartoon,
    there’ll be riots and killings from here to Khartoum.
    So, face Mecca at the mosque, five times a day at least,
    and stick your ass up in the air, for the Religion of Peace.

    Gods and houris and the desert djinns;
    will they torture you to punish you for your sins?

    Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist,
    Zoroastrian, Baha’i, Mormon, and Scientologist,
    Spiritualist, Wiccan, the New Ager into woo,
    Confucianist, Shintoist, and Taoist too.
    Yea, verily, those of each and every religion,
    are mired in the miasma of superstition.

    Gods and spirits and beings that are ethereal;
    your feeling of their immanence doesn’t make them real.

    The gods from the Bronze Age up to modern times,
    and from the Arctic down to tropical climes,
    have inspired theology that’s unsubstantiated twaddle,
    on what an invisible and silent god’ll
    devise as its inscrutable, eschatological plan,
    but all the gods were made in the image of man.

    Gods and Incubi and Succubi too;
    might you like at night one that’s right for you?

    Religion should have no say in the politics of a nation,
    its revelations and dogmata lack a rational foundation.
    Aristotle’s eudemonia, (human flourishing), conflicts
    with the social engineering that religion inflicts
    on societies that could democratically endorse
    rationality-based ethics, mores, and laws.

    Gods and spirits and angels and a goddess;
    the least religious countries, judged socially, score best.

    It’s evident we have just this one life,
    with all its pleasures, challenges, toil, and strife.
    As social beings we evolved our moral sensibility,
    combating selfishness, lust, and venality.
    Religion misunderstands, & so invokes the supernatural,
    while Humanism strives to promote the good & rational.

    Gods and spirits and Cartesian mind-body duality;
    Plato’s “Euthyphro” proves gods don’t create morality.

    So, why should yours be the “One True Faith”,
    in a magic, phantasmagorical wraith?
    Belief, without evidence, is symptomatic of being lazy,
    ineffably mystical, doctrinaire, or even clinically crazy.
    When evolution happens, it’s due to Natural Selection,
    so life derives no purpose, at a theistic god’s direction.

    Gods and spirits and the immaterial soul;
    for the supernatural, there’s no real evidence at all.

    But there’s no need for you to blame your genes;
    your faith’s the fault of socio-religious memes.
    They corrupted your mind with a contagious infection
    of superstitious ideas that can’t stand close inspection.
    So cast them out, and then, you’ll be free
    to revel in your HUMANITY!

    Gods and spirits belong with myth and superstition,
    whereas Humanism’s based on science and rationalism.

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