WERE HITLER AND MUSSOLINI CATHOLIC?

Before reading this article, please read this about "Reductio ad Hitlerum" (from the Wikipedia).


On 30/11/99, someone named "john" posted the following statement on the Message Board:

Some of the worst, most evil people in history were catholics - Hitler and Mussolini - yet what did the Catholic church do about them ?

The following is a response to that message.


Though Adolph Hitler was baptized Catholic as an infant, he did not practice the Faith later in life. In fact, he completely rejected Christianity as an adult, since he thought it was a "weak" religion because of its emphasis on peace and forgiveness. Instead, Hitler favored a militaristic and racist mishmash of neo-paganism and occultism, which he considered more suitable for the so-called "Aryan supermen" whom he thought would take over the world.

Here are some quotes which show what Hitler thought of Christianity:

"Christianity is an invention of sick brains," -- Adolf Hitler, 13 December 1941.

"So it's not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle with the Churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death," -- Adolf Hitler, 14 October 1941.

Definitely not the words of a good Catholic!

As for Benito Mussolini, he wasn't a practicing Catholic either. He had a mistress and had a lot of people killed; the Church does not approve of someone breaking the Fifth and Sixth Commandments! Hitler's slaughter of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles and yes, many Catholics such as Sts. Edith Stein and Maximillan Kolbe, is also despicable according to Catholic moral teaching. A good Catholic would never engage in mass murder.

Finally, neither Hitler nor Mussolini had Catholic funerals, so their deaths were as unChristian as their lives.

The Church hates Nazism. What did she do about Hitler and Mussolini? Whatever she could, considering the terrible circumstances. Hitler's occupation forces hemmed the Pope in the Vatican during World War II, and Mussolini was his ally, but the Holy Father still did what he could to oppose the Nazis.

When Hitler visited Rome in the 1930's (before World War II) Mussolini displayed the pagan Nazi symbol of the swastika - a crooked cross! - all over the city of Rome. Pope Pius XI, the pope at the time, publicly lamented this flaunting of "another cross which is not the cross of Christ", as he put it.

He would later release the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge ("With Burning Sorrow"), which strongly condemned Nazism. Most papal encyclicals are written in Latin, but this one was written in German - the only one ever written in that language. Pius XI wanted there to be no mistake as to which country his words were directed!

BTW, do you know who wrote Mit Brennender Sorge? It was a cardinal named Eugene Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII!

Pius XII saved 860,000 Jews from the death camps, according to Rabbi Pinchus Lapide (read his book Three Popes and the Jews). No, the pope and the Church didn't "do nothing" about the Axis powers during WWII. If you want the TRUTH about Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust, check out the links at the bottom of this article.

Here is an interesting fact, cited by Fr. Benedict Groeschel:

"Albert Speer, Hitler's architect mentions that only once before the collapse of the Third Reich had he seen Hitler deeply disturbed. In 1935 the Fuhrer had what was supposed to have been a perfunctory meeting with the intransigent anti-Nazi Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Faulhaber. The half hour meeting lasted several hours and Hitler was badly shaken at the end of the interview. Considering the future career of the Cardinal, who was one of Hitler's most outspoken critics in Germany and a staunch defender of the Jews to the end, it is reasonable to assume that Faulhaber pointed out to Hitler the spiritual implications of the road he was on. Hitler never arrested Faulhaber for going so far as to have the Star of David with the yellow armband placed on the statues of Christ and Mary in the churches of his diocese. But he did reject the call to conversion. There was still a choice for Hitler in 1935."1
There you have it. What did the Church do about Hitler? She issued him a prophetic warning to cease and desist through the lips of Cardinal Faulhaber! But he refused to repent. You cannot blame the Church for the impenitence of a lost soul, who refuses to heed her rebuke.

I agree that some evil people in history were Catholic; some, that is, but not all! Josef Stalin and Mao Tse Tung were not Catholic; in fact they were atheists. Also, some of the most good, holy people in history were Catholics: St. Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa, to name a few. These good people sought to live by the teachings of the Church, while evil men like Hitler and Mussolini rejected her teachings. What does that tell you?

Are there sinners in the Catholic Church? Of course! And this should come as no surprise, since Jesus Himself said there would always be tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). Even He had a traitor among his chosen Twelve - Judas!! The presence of imperfect human beings in the Church does not disprove her Truth; she is still the Body of Christ.

As my grandma used to say, the Church is a haven for sinners, not a museum for saints.

WORKS CITED

1Benedict J. Groeschel,  Spiritual Passages, The Psychology of Spiritual Development,  (New York: Crossroad, 1986)  64-65.

For more on Pius XII and the Holocaust:


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