VATICAN'S ENGLISH BROADCAST
The Vatican Radio recently gave a useful summary in English of the reasons why " the Catholic Church views the religious future of Germany with anxiety." Another recent broadcast in German summarised the Nazi treatment of Alsace tinder twelve heads.
There are yet further examples of the way in which the Vatican Radio continually stresses this theme—a fact which leaves no doubt about the serious view taken by the Holy See of the system and philosophy of Government which threatens the whole of Europe.
' To enable our listeners to know
something of how things are going on in Germany we give a résumé of the religious situation at the end of 1940.
without comment, said the English announcer in a programme for India and Ceylon.
By the end of 1940 the Catholic Church in Germany had suffered many heavy losses and felt grave anxiety. No one can be satisfied with the mere fact that many churches are filled to-day. He must think of what will become of Catholicity in a few years. Many religious houses and charitable institutions have been closed, and the fostering of the religious vocation has been greatly hindered by a recent decree of the Minister of Labour, ordering all men and women who desire to enter a religious life to be made to work under State supervision, 'This points to the death of religious life through exhaustion. Other religious associations are in the same position. They still function but their members are old ; if the Government methods do not change the future for them, too, spells death.
Religious houses have been taken over by the Government, under the pretext of affording housing facilities for Germans who have come home. At first a formal contract gave a legal appearance to this confiscation of religious property, but in some regions, once the religious were expelled from their home, often with only a few bouts' notice and under very painful circumstances, the contract lost its value. It is feared that these houses will never return to their owners.
In some places the repatriated Germans have already left the houses, but these have been occupied by others who are not their legitimate owners. In other cases the religious have been driven front their homes without any pretext.
MAY NOT JOIN CHURCH TILL AGED 21
If the intentions of the authorities are fully carried out, the recruiting of Christians will be difficult. Some Nazi propagandists have already made public the intention to make Church affitiatiolk depend on a signed declaration to be made only when a person has reached the age al 21. By this age, the speaker suggested, the harm will have been done. The young man or woman will have a concept of life different from the Christian one.
Only recently a book was condemned by the Holy Office precisely because it was in defence of euthanasia, sterilisation, and divorce, and it was made up of a series of conferences given to the German Youth.
Religious instruction in the schools, especially in the upper grades, has been restricted to a minimum. In the Normal Schools, where future teachers are trained, it is almost completely suppressed. In the Elementary Schools and in the lower grades of Middle Schools, at least in some districts, the priest is not allowed into the classes.
THE NEW PAGANISM
There is another danger beside this continuous chopping at the roots of the tree When the true religion has been uprooted, the so-called National Religion is to be planted. It is said openly in public lectures, in most diverse places, that this one National Religion is the will of the Fuehrer. The ground is being prepared for Rosenberg's church. Since 1933 Rosenberg has had charge of the spiritual formation of the Nazi party, and by the official declarations of 1937 his writings are the basis for the scientific conception of the Word for National Socialism.
The situation, we are glad to say, is not the same everywhere in Greater Germany. There is normally no general law of universal applications, only local and particular regulations which, however, allow one to enter into the mind of the supreme legislator. In the Sudetenland, in former Austria, still more in Alsace, the movement has progressed rapidly, and there are reasons to suppose that the situation created in these regions will be the model for original Germany.
RESTRICTION OF PRIESTS The restrictions on the sacred ministry of the priest through which the faithful receive their spiritual light, are another source of grave anxiety. Very often the priest finds the doors of the school closed to him.
The priest lives continually in danger of being accused of not showing himself sufficiently well disposed about the justice of Germany's cause. Yet the clergy have not failed to remind the faithful of tbeir civic duty.
The priest's activities are crippled by not being allowed to touch politics, even remotely, in any field of his ministry. Yet spheres of ideas are not divided by frontiers recognised by all alike. He may not have contact with his own flock, and his existence is systematically ignored, as though he were an element foreign to public life. His communications with soldiers from his parish are hindered ; he may not send them religious literature or books of piety. Finally he lives in constant fear.
Any doubt cast on his civic conduct, any apparent lack of respect for Government regulations, may cause his summary expulsion from the parish, without the Diocesan authorities being previously communicated with, though they could often apply correction or clarify a misunderstanding. To conduct a retreat for young people is forbidden, and local authorities have the discretionary powers to extend these prohibitions even to retreats for adults.
THE CHURCH IN ALSACE In a recent broadcast in German the Vatican Radio speaker gave a most telling list of facts under twelve heads concerning the state of Catholic affairs in Alsace, home of Joan of Arc.
Said the speaker:
Firstly: The Napoleonic Concordat of 1801 is not recognised.
Secondly The Church is to live on the taxes of the Catholics who have come of age. Taxes are to be raised by the Church without State assistance. The State, however, maintains the complete control both of the amounts raised and of the use of the funds in general and in detail.
Thirdly : The Bishop of Strasburg has to remain in non-occupied France. The Bishop of Metz has been expelled from his bishopric.
Fourthly: The Strasburg Cathedral remains closed for public worship. It is only open for visitors, like a museum.
Fifthly: Education is a matter for the State and the Party. There are no longer any Catholic private schools in Alsace. All Catholic educational institutions run by members of Religious Orders, priests or brothers, have been dissolved.
Sixthly: In secondary schools religious instruction is confined to the first four forms. Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls is compulsory for all children from the age of 10 onwards.
Seventhly: Religious Orders have been much restricted. All Houses of the Jesuits have been dissolved.
Eighthly: The Episcopal Seminary is closed. So is the Theological Faculty of Strasburg University.
Ninthly: All Catholic organisations have been disbanded.
Tenthly: The Catholic Press is suppressed.
Eleventhly: The Catholic " Caritas " is even more restricted than is the case in Germany.
Twelf(hly: At the end of December 20,000 persons, including 60 priests, had been expelled from Alsace.