It is the 20th of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
It was on this day in 1933 that the Reichskonkordat was signed between the Catholic Church and the NAZI party. This document signed by the Papal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Franz von Papen set the parameters for a kind of truce between the Nazis and German Catholics.
- There was never a class I taught that was more popular than “The Rise of the Third Reich”.
Upper-division electives were lucky to get 10 students, this one would cap out at 35 and I’d usually let a few more in.
2. Why are we fascinated with Nazis?
Perhaps because they represent the most recognizable evil in modern times. And we can see people responding to evil in the relatively knowable recent past.
3. On this show we have discussed the Nazi’s and the church in our discussion of:
The Barmen Declaration- the Protestant confession condemning the Nazi’s
Mitt Brennender Sorge- the Catholic Encyclical from Pope Pius XI condemning Hitler
4. But this Reichskonkordat is not such a courageous story
The Catholic Representative who signed it was Eugenio Pacelli would become Pius XII.
As Pius XII he has been referred to as “Hitler’s Pope”.
5. It is argued that the Pope’s actions signing the Konkordat was an early indication that he preferred dictators over Democracy, feared Communism more than Fascism, etc…
this and the idea that he was “Hitler’s Pope” seems to be an overreach.
6. But make no mistake, Pope Pius XII acted more like a cautious head of state instead of the representative of Jesus.
And this is part of the problem of the modern Papacy and the designation of the Vatican as an autonomous state.
The church has many heroes who acted bravely during the horrors of the Nazi regime. Also, there are many who could act and think in both courageous and cowardly ways.
The Reichskonkordat gave reasonable cover for the Catholic Church to say that it would eliminate Nazi interference in the German Catholic church. The fact is that both the Catholic Church and the Nazis interpreted the signing of this Konkordat as a win for themselves.
The signing of this document- the Reichskonkordat between the Catholic Church and the nazis on this day in 1933 represents another chapter in the often sad tale of the church in Europe during WWII. There are heroic stories, but I don’t think this is one of them.
The last word for today comes from the first epistle of St. Peter, a good word on the imitation and work of Christ
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 20th of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who knows why Hitler hated Baseball, it was on account of three Reichs and you’re out. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis who will not apologize for the puns.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.