The Nazi Regime Against The Catholic Church

priests of dachauPope Pius XI hoped that the Concordat signed with Hitler would allow the Catholic Church in Germany to operate free from any interference. He was soon to be disappointed.
Children were pressured into joining the Hitler Youth movement rather than stay in Catholic youth associations. An attempt was made to ban the crucifix in schools. From 1936 on, parents were pressured to withdraw their children from Catholic schools and place them in Nazi-approved schools. By 1939, most Catholic-based schools had disappeared in Nazi Germany.


In 1937, Pius XI was so concerned about the anti-Catholic activities of the Nazi regime that he wrote ‘With burning anxiety’ (Mit brennender Sorge) that was issued by the Vatican on March 14th 1937. It was read out to congregations in Catholic churches on March 21st 1937. ‘With burning anxiety’ criticised the Nazi government’s persecution of the Catholic Church. Pius XI criticised the state for putting ideological beliefs before Christian ones. Priests in Germany were warned not to criticise Hitler or the Nazi regime. However, individual priests did make a stand against the government and between 1939 and 1943, 693 Catholic priests were arrested and tried for “oppositional activity”.
In his famous speeches, Bishop von Galen spoke out against the State confiscation of Church property and the programmatic euthanasia carried out by the regime. The clarity and incisiveness of his words and the unshakable fidelity of Catholics in the Diocese of Münster embarrassed the Nazi regime,
When the new National Socialist government started to confiscate Church property, turning religious orders out of their houses and arresting priests, Bishop von Galen denounced this from the pulpit. When the Nazis published material accusing the Church of being anti-science and anti-human progress, he replied with vigorous pamphlets of his own setting out the Church’s record.
From the early 1930s onwards, it was Nazi policy to make things difficult for the Church in ways that were simple but effective: Using crowd control as an excuse, processions would be banned or re-routed at the last minute, and outdoor events subjected to sudden new rules and regulations. The bishop could not be certain that celebrations for a village confirmation would be able to go ahead in traditional style. People became used to the idea that popular celebrations, now deemed old-fashioned, must take second place to the a new vision of com

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