General Question

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar

Why does the Catholic Church get a “pass” after conspiring with the Nazis against the Jews?

Asked by PopeJohnPaulJr (46points) June 13th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

soundedfury's avatar

What evidence do you have to support your assertion? The historical record, as I read it, only supports the idea that the Catholic Church was complacent in the face of Nazi atrocities.

The problem is that almost the whole world, all the Allied powers included, were complacent when faced with the facts. That the concentration camps were liberated was a byproduct of the war and not an aim in and of itself.

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar

@ soundedfury

The current pope (Pope Ratzinger) was a member of the Hitler Youth, a notorious anti-Semitic organization. The catholic church has a long history of murdering Jews, so I can understand your reluctance open your mind to historical facts.

soundedfury's avatar

I hope you’re held responsible for the involuntary things you did as an fourteen-year-old when you’re 81. Enrollment in Hitler Youth was mandatory and EVERY German citizen of his age that lived through that time would have been required to enroll. It doesn’t necessarily point towards his views, where his half-century of work as a friend of Judiasm. So much work, in fact, that the World Jewish Congress welcomed his election to the papal seat as a friend of Jews worldwide.

As for the evidence link above – yes, the German Catholic Church has admitted using Jewish labor during the war period, as did the Protestant church and a number of other organizations (which the article notes). It’s part of the tragic history of how ordinary Germans were complicit in the crimes of the Nazi regime. But this occurred within Germany, and doesn’t constitute “conspiring,” nor does it suggests that the global, worldwide Catholic Church was involved.

I won’t defend the long-standing hypocrisy within the Catholic Church, nor will I try to apologize for their constant inability to maintain the level of morality that they preach, but if you want to make inflammatory remarks in this forum, I suggest you back it up with real data and not conjecture and circumstance.

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar


Although you make no attempt to actually answer my question, at least you have learned One Fact between your first and second response, and it didn’t take long at all. Just think what might happen if you spent a little time enlightening yourself before answering!
Although your comment, ‘I hope you’re held responsible . . .” is irrelevant, it illuminates the weakness of your response.

You can put your head back in (the sand?) now.

marinelife's avatar

@PopeJohnPaulJr This “question” appears to have been merely a platform for you to exercise your own clearly inflexible views not to engage in discussion or acquire knowledge. That and attacks on people honestly trying to respond are not in the spirit of Fluther and not appreciated.

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar


You are completely incorrect. My question is indisputably historically accurate, and doubtlessly more socially relevant than the questions “What’s your favorite this and favorite that”. But thanks for responding . . .

soundedfury's avatar

Indisputably historically accurate? Historians are absolutely split on how culpable non-governmental institutions were in the Holocaust. It was the topic of my honors thesis in college.

You still haven’t established any historical basis for your opinion, nor have you established sources that would point to fact. Once you do that, we can start answering your question.

nayeight's avatar

geez guys, can’t we all just get along?

marinelife's avatar

OK, I will take you at your word and give you a response.

They do not get a pass. That is a faulty premise.

There has been much discussion about the role of the church and its institutional indifference. For example, here:

The Vatican has a more troubling history when it comes to the Holocaust. As with Italy in general, it was often left to the actions of lower level Church officials and individuals to ‘do the right thing.’ Whether the Pope himself did enough is still debated today.

Prior to the war the Vatican seemed to start out on the right foot. In 1938, Pope Pius XI spoke out against Germany’s racial dogma and the Italian government’s willingness to follow in Hitler’s footsteps. He was a forceful critic of Fascism and asserted one could not be both Catholic and Fascist. Pius XI died in 1939, six months before the beginning of WWII. Eugenio Pacelli, a close associate, succeeded him as Pius XII.

Pius XII’s record on the Holocaust is complex and quite controversial. Many historians strongly criticize him for not saying or doing as much as he could have about the persecution of the Jews. Appeals from diplomats and local church officials to do something, were often met with insistence upon the importance of the Vatican maintaining its official neutrality. He was often publicly silent in the face of Nazi atrocities, particularly prior to 1942. Though he occasionally spoke out against oppression in general, Pius XII never spoke out publicly and specifically against persecution and murder of Jews even though it is certain he knew quite well what the Nazis were up to. He also never spoke out against a German roundup of Jews in Rome in October 1943, which literally could have been seen from the Vatican’s windows.”

However, as soundedfury rightly pointed out, the complicity and complacency of the Catholic Church was one and the same with that of other religions and other institutions including governments at the time.

Further, it was not universal within the church.

This reference is excerpted below:

“Irene Sendler, the courageous Polish Catholic nurse who saved Jewish children from death at the hands of the Nazis, died at the age of 98 in a hospital in Warsaw.

Sendler became known as the angel of the Warsaw ghetto for having saved 2,500 Jewish children from certain death.

During that time she worked for the Warsaw department of social wellbeing which administered the community soup kitchens throughout the city. She worked tirelessly helping Jews and Catholics.

After the creation of the Warsaw ghetto, Sendler was able to take in the children of many families in order to keep them from being deported to the concentration camps. She transported the children in ambulances as if they were sick with typhus, she hid them in trash cans, tool boxes, supply chests or coffins and later in convents and Catholic homes.

She created an archive with the real identities of the children so that one day they could be reunited with their surviving family members.”

Or this reference:

“It is true that the Vatican sheltered about 470 Jews behind its walls following the German occupation, while another 4200 were protected in Roman monasteries and convents. After the war, the chief Rabbi in Rome as well as Italian Jewish communities heaped praise upon Pius XII for his support.

The most notable example of individual action by Church officials to save Jews occurred in Assisi. Shortly after the Germans began rounding up Italian Jews, Padre Ruffino Niccacci of the Damiano monastery was asked by his bishop to find homes and hiding places for more than 300 Jews just arrived from Trieste.

Padre Niccacci managed to have many of the refugees sheltered in buildings on the monastery grounds and dressed them as monks and nuns to hide their true identities during frequent Nazi searches. Others were placed in parishioners’ homes and blended into the community. Not a single refugee was captured while staying at Assisi. In 1979 Alexander Ramati along with Father Niccacci wrote “The Assisi Underground”, a book about this remarkable episode in the Italian resistance.”

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar


Well done. We agree on some measure of complicity. However, I see no mention of the Reichskonkordat, which is valid in Germany today.

Historically, the catholic church’s attitude toward the Jews has been that they are guilty of killing Christ. Yes, there were very many catholics who came to the aid of the Jews, but there were just as many who enthusiastically supported and aided the Nazis in the roundup and murder of the Jews. The catholic church has tried (unsuccessfully) to conceal this fact. This practice continues today, and we see it revealed in how the church has responded to their sexual predatory priests. Denial, defense, attacking the accuser, and moving the priest to a new parish, where they continued to molest their flock. This was not atypical, this was S.O.P., from the highest level of the Vatican. I don’t mean to digress, I mention this to exemplify the churches willingness to sacrifice morality for the sake of dogma.

But to my question:

Why does the church get a pass?

Vincentt's avatar

What do you mean by “getting a pass”?

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