09/16/2020, 12.59
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Fear of Sino-Vatican Agreement: Echoes of the Church with Hitler

by Li Ruohan*

The situation of the Church in China has become increasingly worse since the signing of the agreement. The concordat with Nazi Germany in 1933 gave the Church freedom for a few months. Then crucifixes were removed from the schools; Catholic associations were brought back under the Nazi party; everyone was obliged to study Nazism. Fritz Stern: The concordat with the Holy See boosted Hitler's respectability in Germany and abroad.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - According as Crux reported the Provisional agreement of the Sino-Vatican agreement will be renewed. The agreement was signed on Sep,2018 and expires on Sep of this year. Although some Vatican seniors claimed that the purpose of the deal is to promote the unification of the Catholic Church in China and improve the situation of the Underground Church. However, the situation of the Church in China has get worse and worse after the agreement. The movement of demolishing Crosses has not ceased and young people under 18years are banned from entering the Church. All of those actions are part of persecution policy. The Sino-Vatican deal is reminiscent of the Nazi Germany′ s deal with the Holy See.

Since the unification of Germany in 1870s German Catholics became a minority in a country with a protestant majority. The faithful always faced the accusation that the German Catholics are not true German, because they accepted the authority of Rome. German Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck, started the battle of Culture with the Catholic Church in Germany. They closed the Churches, monasteries and expelled the clergy. The German Catholics set up the Catholic Center Party and got support from the Church .Finally the Church successfully protected its interests through fighting with Bismarck. The Holy See signed some deals with several local government (Prussia,Bavaria,Baden)during the Weimarer Republic (1918-1933). However, The Holy See wanted to sign a national concordat with the German central Government. In the General election of 1933, Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Party, became the new Chancellor. Hitler considered that his regime was not very stable and needed an alliance with the Catholic Center Party. He invited Franz Von Papen, the leader of Center Party, to be vice Chancellor of Nazi government. The German faithful majority did not give a favorable impression to the Nazi party. In order to change their negative attitude to the Nazi government Hitler authorized Franz von Papen to start the negotiation with the Holy see for a concordat. The secretary of state Eugenio Pacelli (the future pope Pius Ⅻ ) and Pope Pius Ⅺ were interested to reach an agreement with Nazi Germany. On 20th July 1933 The Vatican and Nazi Germany signed the concordat with this background ,

According to the concordat, The Catholic Church agreed not to go against the political and social theory of the Nazi Party. The German government guaranteed freedom of profession and public practice of the Catholic religion, confirming the Holy See’s right to appoint a papal Nuncio in Berlin and the German government have an ambassador in Rome. The German Bishops must take an oath of loyalty to the country. The concordat also protected the religious orders’ freedom for charitable, pastoral and educational work. The Properties of the Catholic Church were protected according to the German law. The Church had the right to set up theological colleges for the training of priests and maintained the Catholic academic faculties in the National Universities.

No matter how good the concordat the problem was in the implementation. Six months after the agreement, the Catholic youth associations - with all the other associations - were forced to join the Nazi youth association. The Crucifix was banned in schools and the Children of Catholic families were compelled, like everyone else, to study in Nazi approved schools. Over hundreds of Priests were jailed for criticizing Nazism. In 1937, Pope Pius Ⅺ released his encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge” condemning the Violations of the concordat, although Pope Pius Ⅺ denounced the persecution of the Nazi party, unfortunately the damage has done.

The concordat could not be changed to improve the situation of the Catholics in Nazi Germany. In contrast, the concordat mislead the faithful to accept the Nazi ruling in Germany and weakened the authority of the Holy See, misleading numerous people to consider the Holy See as an ally of Nazi Germany. Just like Historian Fritz Stern said:“Hitler had even more reason to be satisfied. The concordat was his first international agreement, and it vastly enhanced his respectability in Germany and abroad. A great moral authority had trusted his word.” [1]

This history is repeating itself now in China, so please remember the lesson Nazi Germany. Do not cause another tragedy. Please do not in the name of love and unification give way to torture and murder in the Church of China!   

[1]  Fritz Stern, Dreams and Delusions: The Drama of German History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 169.

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