Startling Document Issued by German Bishop
An amazing document has been published giving a picture of the religious situation in Germany after five years of Nazi rule.
It is a long official document published by Mgr. Conrad Groeber, Archbishop of Freiburg-in-Breisgau, and it forms a complete and detailed account of what has happened and is happening to Catholics in the archdiocese of Freiburg.
Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, publishes a detailed analysis of this document, and adds that " the sombre picture of his archdiocese is true of every part of Germany."
The Osservatore also remarks that the Nazi anti-Catholic measures described in the document are purely anti-religious in character, and cannot he called " political," as the Nazis pretend.
The first chapter of the document deals with anti-religious propaganda. Under this head it is stated that the anti-Christian ideas of Alfred Rosenberg, instructor-inchief of the Nazi ideology, have been insistently broadcast in lectures, periodicals, and the daily press.
The patriotism of priests has been questioned, hostile demonstrations have been organised against them, Catholic manifestations of homage to the bishops have been forbidden or disturbed, at Mannheim young Catholics were attacked coming out of church after receiving lying Confirmation, and the Bishop was threatened with violence. Mention is also made of the " immorality " trials, and the campaign to encourage public apostasy, particularly among school teachers, and State and Party officials.
In the archdiocese the number of these public, official, apostasies has risen to 2,798, in 1936, and 3,374, in 1937. Most of these were the result of intimidation.
In chapter II the war on the Crucifix is described. Mgr. Grocbcr enumerates the cases in which crucilixes have been torts down, broken, burnt, or covered with filth.
Obstacles placed in the way of Catholics practising their religion are described in the next chapter.
Obstacles to the Practise of Religion Churches, including the cathedral of Freiburg, are closed on the pretext that Party demonstrations are taking place. Officials are forbidden to attend services or take part in Corpus Christi processions—the latter have even been stigmatised as antiState demonstrations. Pilgrimages are said to disorganise traffic arrangements. The children of State officials are forbidden to serve Mass.
Despite the Concordat, the Catholic association Volksverein, which had 30,000 members, was dissolved in 1934: its pro
perty was confiscated. Catholic professional guilds are persecuted; Catholic sports clubs are forbidden; the Catholic Youth Federation of the archdiocese, with a membership of 14,000, has been systematically boycotted,
Catholic Charity Impeded
Catholic charitable organisations have also suffered twenty poor children's refuges have had to be abandoned by nuns, and orphanages have been forcibly closed down. Catholic organisations are even forbidden to get jobs for the unemployed. Catholics in future can only look after the aged, the insane, and criminals, A further chapter deals with obstacles to the preaching of the Gospel. Freedom of preaching was guaranteed by the Concordat.
Old laws, going back to the days of Bismarck's Kulturkanlph, as well as new regulations, now limit the priests in their preaching. Numbers of them have been forbidden to preach at all, others have been arrested for their sermons, placards announcing sermons have been torn down by order of the police, Papal Encyclicals have not been allowed to be reprinted, the distribution of pious leaflets has been forbidden, twenty-two Catholic newspapers in Baden have been suppressed . . .
The vicissitudes of Catholic education form the subject of another chapter. Thirty-two Catholic teachers have been deprived of their right to teach, examinations in religious subjects in the schools are no longer supervised by the Archbishop's delegates, a pamphlet, issued by the Archbishop, called " the Truth of the Catechism," has been confiscated, since July 1937. the manual of Sacred History, in use in the schools, has been withdrawn, Bible instruction has been suppressed in all schools, State officials cannot, in practice, send their children to Catholic schools.
Other chapters deal with Catholic organ
isations, works of mercy, etc., etc. The document as a whole makes it quite clear that there is a religious persecution in Germany.