Letters to the ‘Graun’: the Catholic Church and Nazism

September 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm (anti-semitism, Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, fascism, religion)

And the Pope has the nerve to link Nazism and the Holocaust with atheism !

(Source: Wikipedia)
. .            

Above: the Concordat between the Vatican and the Nazis. Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli (later to become Pope Pius XII) signs the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican at a formal ceremony in Rome on 20 July 1933. Nazi Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen sits at the left, Pacelli in the middle, and the Rudolf Buttmann sits at the right. 
 The Concordat effectively legitimized Hitler and the Nazi government in the eyes of  the Catholic Church in much of the world.The full text of the concordat appears on the Concordat Watch website. (click here to see the text).  

Today’s Guardian (all to often the mouthpiece for religious apologists), publishes some good letters on the whole subject of Catholicism and Nazism:

I feel compelled to respond to the pope’s comments on atheist extremism (Report, 17 September). The reality for many Catholics is that while accepting guidance from the church on aspects of faith, they are inclined to discount its strictures when it strays into the realms of politics and the private lives of others. This is possible because the Catholic church (like most organised religion in this country) is largely confined to the private sphere, with only a marginal influence on public life, which is as it should be. It is worth contrasting this to those countries where the Catholic church has been able to wield greater influence over the institutions of state. At its best, such influence has led to social, cultural and economic backwardness. At its worst, it has seen the church lend its support to almost every rightwing dictatorship willing to deploy death squads against popular demands for the most basic political, social and economic rights.

And as for the Nazis, perhaps the pope should consider the role the deeply held antisemitism of the prewar church played in creating an environment in which the antisemitism of the Nazi party could lead to such a great inhumanity as the Holocaust.

Liam Hetherington


• So the pope blames the Holocaust on atheism. In 1944, while Pope Benedict was in the Hitler Youth, my father Renato Sorba – a non-believer – joined the Italian partisans in Piemonte at the age of 17 to fight against fascism. During the second world war Nazi Germany’s closest allies were Catholic Italy, Catholic Croatia and Catholic Vichy France (while Polish Catholics slaughtered their Jewish neighbours in Jedwabne). Officially neutral but actually very pro-German were Catholic Spain and Catholic Ireland. After the war Nazi war criminals fled to the warm embrace of Catholic South America. Why? Because they had been defeated by the atheist USSR.

One of us is a fool who should know better. I guess it must be me because the pope, after all, is infallible.

Luke Sorba


• Whatever Hitler’s beliefs may have been, most of the ordinary Germans who carried out his orders to exterminate European Jews were either Lutherans or Catholics. Both churches portrayed the Jews as Christ-killers for many centuries, and it was not until 1965 that the Roman Catholic church abandoned its dogma that Jews both past and present were responsible for the death of Jesus, and that God had rejected the Jews because of this. This vile theology undoubtedly made it easier for many Catholic Germans to send their Jewish neighbours to the gas chambers with a clear conscience.

Dr David Harper


• In 1941 Adolf Hitler said, in My New Order, “Christianity [is] the foundation of our national morality”. You would have thought that an organisation like the Vatican, with such close ties to the Nazis in 1933 (the year they signed the Reichskonkordat), would know that.

Tom Trainer


See also: Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell

A lot more nasty photos of Nazis hobnobbing with Catholic bigwigs, here.


  1. charliethechulo said,

    Just when you though Galloway and his sycophants couldn’t stoop any lower in their grovelling to religion, they do just that…


    The comments are good, though.

  2. Oscar Lomax said,

  3. jim denham said,

    10,000 on the London anti-Pope march, but few from the organised left:


  4. Sarah AB said,

    @charlie – I just followed that link and thought parts of it read like a parody – a bit like the Parish Church Newsletter spoof of PM-as-Vicar they used to run in Private Eye. It’s the use of two consecutive exclamation marks I think.

    “Amusingly one of the complaints Peter Tatchell has about the Pope is that Benedict XVI promotes the teaching of the Catholic church; and in particular St Peter argues that women can be priests, and anyone who disputes this is a bigot! I assume that Tatchell developed this view after years of studying in a religious seminary, and fully mastered the scriptural and theological background to this issue before pronouncing himself a religious authority superior to the Pope!”

    I take the point about the Catholic Church’s teachings on women priests having no great impact outside the church, and it’s not something that bothers me I have to say – but the logic within those two sentences could be mapped onto an argument about why women should be stoned for adultery. I got to the point in the thread where Andy Newman said he was going to delete further comments from Jim Meredith – then I gave up – but it seemed Newman wasn’t going to engage with that question about how he would respond if the church stopped non-whites, rather than women, from being priests.

  5. resistor said,

    Tatchell also wrote a letter to The Guardian, it is worth reading in full…

    BYLINE: Peter Tatchell.
    LENGTH: 480 words

    ROS Coward (Why Dares to Speak says nothing useful, June 23) thinks it is “shocking” that Gay Men’s Press has published a book, Dares To Speak, which challenges the assumption that all sex involving children and adults is abusive. I think it is courageous.

    The distinguished psychologists and anthropologists cited in this book deserve to be heard. Offering a rational, informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people, they document examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal, beneficial and enjoyable by old and young alike.

    Prof Gilbert Herdt points to the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea, where all young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood. Far from being harmed, Prof Herdt says the boys grow up to be happy, well-adjusted husbands and fathers.

    The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.

    While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.

    Peter Tatchell.
    Rockingham Street,
    London SE1.

    LOAD-DATE: June 26, 1997

  6. charliethechulo said,

    Tatchell has changed his view since; unlike religious bigots and apologists like “resister” he’s intelligent and honest enough to occasionally change his mind, and then admit he’s been wrong.

  7. jim denham said,

    I contacted Peter Tatchell about the Guardian letter “resistor” quoted above.

    Tatchell told me that quotes cited by “resistor” and other people determined to discredit him are selective and
    partial. Many of his words, he says, are used out of context.

    His Guardian letter of 1997 was edited by the newspaper without his
    knowledge or consent. Hence some misunderstanding.

    Tatchell offers a different explanation, which I am posting below. I
    hope readers might engage with what he is actually saying. It is not necessary to agree with Tatchell on the age of consent and related issues (on balance, I don’t), to recognise that he is *unequivocally* opposed to all forms of child abuse: any attempt to suggest otherwise would have to be a filthy lie.

    Peter Tatchell writes:

    The idea that I advocate paedophilia is laughable, sick, untrue and defamatory.

    Unlike many Catholic clergy, I have never abused anyone. Unlike the
    Pope, I have never failed to report abusers or covered up their
    crimes. I do not support sex with children. Full stop.

    Dares to Speak was an academic book published in 1997, authored by
    professors, anthropologists, psychologists, a Dutch senator and a
    former editor of a Catholic newspaper. It questioned ages of consent
    and whether all sex between children and adults is necessarily

    I do not condone adults having sex with children. My Guardian letter
    about this book was in defence of free speech and open debate about
    the issue, in opposition to those who said that the book and the
    debate it generated should not happen and should be closed down. I was
    against calls for censorship. Even if Dares to Speak is entirely
    wrong, in a free society its authors have a right to be published and

    My Guardian letter cited examples of Papuan tribes and some of my
    friends who had sex with adults while they were still children, but
    who do not feel they were harmed. I was not endorsing their viewpoint
    but merely stating that they had a different perspective from the
    mainstream one about inter-generational sex. They have every right for
    their perspective to be heard. If they say they were not harmed, we
    should respect that (while also recognising that many people are
    harmed by early sexual experiences).

    My Guardian letter did say very clearly that paedophilia is
    “impossible” to condone – meaning that I don’t condone it.

    Here’s an example of what I wrote in the Irish Independent two years ago:

    Irish Independent – 10 March 2008


    “The time has come for a calm, rational debate about the age of
    consent. It should be premised on four aims. First, protecting young
    people against sex abuse. Second, empowering them to make wise,
    responsible sexual choices. Third, removing the legal obstacles to
    earlier, more effective sex education. Fourth, ensuring better
    contraception and condom provision to prevent unwanted pregnancies and
    abortions and to cut the spread of sexual infections like HIV.”

    You can see that I made protecting young people against sex abuse my
    first priority.

    I have said similar things in many other articles and interviews.

    See this Guardian article, published in September last year:


    It is true that I support reducing the legal consent age to 14. But I
    support 14 in order to end the criminalisation of the many young
    people who have sexual contact with each other from this age onwards.
    More than half of all British teenagers have their first sexual
    experience (not necessarily full intercourse) at around the age of 14.
    I do not advocate them having sex at this early age. It is best if
    they wait. But I don’t think that consenting 14 years olds should be
    dragged to court and threatened with prison. I certainly do not
    endorse adults having sex with young people aged 14.

    My critics may disagree with me on the age of consent, but I have
    advocated a clear ethical stance and moral framework, which stresses
    sex with mutual consent, respect and fulfilment. My arguments and
    articles are not about abusing young people but protecting them from
    unwarranted criminalisation.
    That’s my motive.

    I hope this clarifies and reassures you.

    Best wishes, Peter Tatchell

  8. jim denham said,

    Sound stuff from Dawkins: watch!

  9. resistor said,

    ‘Tatchell told me that quotes cited by “resistor” and other people determined to discredit him are selective and partial. Many of his words, he says, are used out of context.’

    That is why I posted his letter in its entirety, so he and his defenders couldn’t use that excuse.

    ‘His Guardian letter of 1997 was edited by the newspaper without his knowledge or consent. Hence some misunderstanding.’

    I bet.

    As for

    ‘Dares to Speak was an academic book published in 1997, authored by professors, anthropologists, psychologists, a Dutch senator and a former editor of a Catholic newspaper.’

    This book was edited by Joseph Geraci. he is the editor of a publication called Padika from which all the essays in the book originate.


    ‘Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia (1987–1995) was a journal published by the Stichting Paidika Foundation whose purpose was to promote the normalization of pedophilia. Its editor was Joseph Geraci and the editorial board included articles by writers Frits Bernard, Edward Brongersma, Vern L. Bullough, and D. H. (Donald) Mader, some of whom campaigned as pro-pedophile activists.’

    I’m all for free speech, but I wonder why Tatchell decided to defend this lot? Who would have thought that ‘professors, anthropologists, psychologists, a Dutch senator and a former editor of a Catholic (oh the irony) newspaper’ could turn out to be paedophiles?

  10. Rosie said,

    Obscene Desserts has a good piece on Christianity and Nazism.


    it is necessary when considering . . . . comments linking ‘aggressive atheism’ to Nazism to differentiate two things: the Party’s view toward religion and the views of religious people toward the Party.

    While there is plenty of evidence in the former case of a hostility to Christianity among some party leaders, their alternative was hardly atheism but a mix of Nordic mysticism and esoteric paganism.

    However, in the latter case, it is equally clear that the Nazis’ road to power was paved by the best wishes of a significant number of observantly religious people who–regardless of what Himmler or Goebbels or Rosenberg might have had planned–saw no contradiction between their belief in a Christian God and their support for the regime.

    Atheism, of course, is no more a guarantee of morality than is theism. But what the current ‘aggressive atheism’ . . has to do with the history of Nazism is a mystery to me.

    Some German Catholic bishop was talking in this strain 18 months ago. This “aggressive atheism leads to Nazism” meme is evidently one that’s popular in German Catholic clerical circles.

    I did my own piece about the Pope’s theory that atheism-leads-to Nazism here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: