Pope Benedict XVI is in the U.K. for a four-day visit. He is in Britain from September 16-19, making the first Papal visit to the UK for 28 years. Coming at a time when there is a a lot of discontent regarding the Catholic church’s handing of issues such as the child sex abuse scandals, and its controversial views on condom use even in AIDS ravaged third world countries, among others.
More than three-quarters of British citizens consider this visit to be a waste of tax-payers’ money. This isn’t surprising considering that the UK is a country where church attendance in the UK is at an all time low, with only about 40% professing belief in ‘God’.
Soon after his arrival, during his opening address to the Queen of England he said the following:
Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny”
Understandably, many atheists are upset by these remarks. Some think this statement was an attempt by the Pope to shift the focus from the child sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic church, to atheism and its alleged association with Nazism. Atheists might then spend more time defending themselves against this (ludicrous) allegation, instead of bringing undesired attention to the problems some of them might see with the Catholic church, during the Pope’s visit.
But just so that we can set the record straight, and since the many of the Catholic Church’s problems are already well known to all, I think I should join others in debunking the claim that ‘Nazi tyranny’ wished to eradicate ‘God’ from society.
"The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge."
[Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf", Vol. 1, Chapter 3]
"I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work."
[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]
"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."
[Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp. 46]
"What we have to fight for…is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator."
[Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp. 125]
"This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief."
[Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp.152]
"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so"
[Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]
"Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise."
[Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf" Vol. 2 Chapter 1]
"For this, to be sure, from the child’s primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission, until the timorous prayer of our present parlor patriots: ‘Lord, make us free!’ is transformed in the brain of the smallest boy into the burning plea: ‘Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!’
[Adolf Hitler’s prayer, "Mein Kampf", Vol. 2 Chapter 13]
"The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life"
[Adolph Hitler, in a speech to the Reichstag on March 23, 1933]
"Today Christians … stand at the head of [this country]… I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press – in short, we want to burn out the *poison of immorality* which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of *liberal excess* during the past … (few) years."
[The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872]
Adolf Hitler and Catholic Papel Nuncio Archbishop Orsenigo
Adolf Hitler was a self-professed Christian, and the Nazi adoration for ‘God’ is evident as was also reflected in the uniform of the German army. Below is a belt-buckle of the Wehrmacht (unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945) during World War II. The inscription reads “Gott Mit Uns” which is German for “God With Us”.
What about the anti-Semitism that paved the way for the murder of 6 million Jews – the Holocaust? Where did it come from? A Nazi desire to eradicate ‘God’ from society?
Let’s hear from Hitler himself:
“I have been attacked because of my handling of the Jewish question. The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc., because it recognized the Jews for what they were. In the epoch of liberalism the danger was no longer recognized. I am moving back toward the time in which a fifteen-hundred-year-long tradition was implemented. I do not set race over religion, but I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church, and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.”
[Adolf Hitler, speaking during a meeting with Roman Catholic Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabrück, April 26, 1933]
Did the Catholic Church consider the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years?
Many of their influential thinkers certainly did:
“We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.”
[Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – A ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.]
“The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition.”…”I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason.”
[John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.) – Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint.]
“How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!”
[St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14 (Augustine was a a Latin church father, is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity.)]
"Such a desperate, thoroughly evil, poisonous and devilish lot are these Jews, who for these fourteen hundred years have been and still are our plague, our pestilence, and our misfortune."
"Therefore know, my dear Christians, that next to the Devil, you have no more bitter, more poisonous, more vehement and enemy than a real Jew who earnestly desires to be a Jew. There may be some among them who believe what the cow or the goose believes. But all of them are surrounded with their blood and circumcision. In history, therefore, they are often accused of poisoning wells, stealing children and mutilating them; as in Trent, Weszensee and the like. Of course they deny this. Be it so or not, however, I know full well that the ready will is not lacking with them if they could only transform it into deeds, in secret or openly."
The strained relationship between early and medieval Christianity – which at the time was overwhelmingly Catholic – and Jews is well documented, and beyond dispute.
Hitler was therefore correct in alluding to the fact that the Catholic Church did, in fact, consider the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years.
Attitude towards atheism:
Ironically, the Nazi regime, was, in fact, virulently hostile to atheists and freethinkers:
"For eight months we have been waging a heroic battle against the Communist threat to our Volk, the decomposition of our culture, the subversion of our art, and the poisoning of our public morality. We have put an end to denial of God and abuse of religion. We owe Providence humble gratitude for not allowing us to lose our battle against the misery of unemployment and for the salvation of the German peasant."
[Adolf Hitler, in a radio address October 14, 1933]
"We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."
[Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered in Berlin, October 24, 1933]
The Nazi regime also outlawed atheist and freethought meetings:
"ATHEIST HALL CONVERTED
Berlin Churches Establish Bureau to Win Back Worshippers
BERLIN, May 13. – In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League, the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining church membership.
The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national revolution, was the largest of such organizations in Germany. It had about 500,000 members …"
[New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler’s outlawing of atheistic and freethinking groups in Germany in the Spring of 1933, after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree]
From this it is obvious that the last thing Hitler wanted to do was to eradicate ‘God’ from society. It is also true that the rabid anti-Semitism that eventually led to the Holocaust was nurtured by the Catholic church over almost 2000 years, and had NOTHING to do with secularism.
Therefore, in saying what he said, the Pope (Joseph Ratzinger) is either confused, trying to shift attention away from himself (and/or the Catholic Church), or intentionally lying in order to vilify non-believers and secularists. I suspect the latter two – in which case, his actions can only be described as despicable.
Joseph Ratzinger should be ashamed of himself.