Serious Inquiries Only podcast – Did the Catholic Church Support Hitler?

Serious Inquiries Only podcast – Did the Catholic Church Support Hitler?

Thomas Smith was good enough to have me back on his “Serious Inquiries Only” podcast (formerly “Atheistically Speaking”), this time to tackle the question “Did the Catholic Church Support HItler?“.  Unfortunately we didn’t quite get time to go into the related question of Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, but I did a further 30 minutes on that topic which Thomas will be making available to his patrons as bonus content.  Since the myth of “Hitler’s Pope” is common in New Atheist circles and favourite of several prominent NAs including Hitchens, both subjects will be covered in a future post here in my “Great  Myths” series.  In the meantime, enjoy my conversation with Thomas via the link above.

20 thoughts on “Serious Inquiries Only podcast – Did the Catholic Church Support Hitler?

  1. A most interesting podcast, Mr O'Neill, as ever – thank you. If I were to be very picky I would make three points:

    1) the Nazi-Soviet pact was signed by the Russian Premier – Molotov – not Stalin.

    2) Golda Meir was the fourth Prime Minster of Israel – David Ben-Guriom was the first.

    3) With regard to Hitler's religion the word I would have used is deist rather than theist. A theist, to my mind, is somebody who follows a religion. A deist, by contrast, believes in some form of higher being but does not subscribe to any particular sort of god (Thomas Jefferson, for example, or Anthony Flew). There are of course alternative views. Carrier – your friend and mine (!) actually tried to argue in a 2015 afterword to his article on the subject that the Goebbels quote referred exclusively to Catholicism (which is of course utter rubbish, but seems to have gone over well with his fellow historically illiterate amateur followers – he also repeated his patent lie that Irving had never denied the Holocaust). However Burleigh – who may be a Catholic but is also a reputable historian who actually speaks German – came down on the side of 'a form of deism' in his book Sacred Causes.

    However, I wonder if perhaps you went a bit far in saying Hitler only used his rhetoric on the subject as a campaigning tool. I'm not sure if you have ever read Hastings, Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism. In it, Hastings argues for religiosity on a sort of affiliate Catholicism up to about 1924, with his time in prison changing that to a looser belief in Providence. That's a book on the subject I found worth reading if you can get a copy.

    Those minor (two frankly pedantic) points aside, I enjoyed it very much.




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  2. "the Nazi-Soviet pact was signed by the Russian Premier – Molotov – not Stalin."

    This is pretty silly. Molotov was acting as Stalin's foreign minister. It's not like I was saying Stalin himself physically signed the treaty.

    " Golda Meir was the fourth Prime Minster of Israel – David Ben-Guriom was the first."

    True – my mistake.

    "With regard to Hitler's religion the word I would have used is deist rather than theist. A theist, to my mind, is somebody who follows a religion."

    No, a theist is anyone who believes in any kind of god. A Deist is a kind of theist.

    "I'm not sure if you have ever read Hastings, Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism. In it, Hastings argues for religiosity on a sort of affiliate Catholicism up to about 1924, with his time in prison changing that to a looser belief in Providence. That's a book on the subject I found worth reading if you can get a copy."

    Thanks, I check it out. This doesn't substantially change what I said though, given that his campaign platitudes were all after 1924.




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  3. Anti-Catholocism is pretty much the main theme in English language Atheist history writing.

    Which is mostly due to Atheists not questioning older Protestant sources. Neo-Paganism and 2nd Wave Feminism have all the same problems. Wars with France and Spain that stopped two centuries ago still define a lot of English language culture.

    The amount of Atheists who assume the Catholic Church are Young Earth Creationists is pretty shocking but a natural assumption if all you really know about the reformation is the idea that its the step on the glorious history of the progress of western civilisation right in between the renaissance and the Enlightenment. A lot of English speakers see modern Catholics the way medieval Christians saw Jews, as people trapped in an earlier stage of cultural/religious development who we keep around because there's still a chance they'll redeem themselves by catching up at some point.

    When you have a idea of history that conceives of Secularism as being the inheritance not of the reaction to the horror of the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War but as the inheritance of the Statute in Restraint of Appeals of all thing then you're able to twist pretty much anything.

    The idea that fundamentalists are a modern thing is incompatible with the idea that modern = atheist. New Atheists are basically reliant on the Victorian-Edwardian cultural evolution model that justified the dominance of Anglo-Saxon Protestant civilisation as the natural development of human history, they just put atheist as a extra level above monotheist.




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  4. Great stuff Tim, holy hell, you talk fast & clear. Rattling off page numbers as well was a nice piece of bravura. I'd already read a bit about this on a Catholic site, but it's great to hear it from you, as you don't have a dog in the fight, so to speak. (Wink wink, the papal nuncio just told me your check's in the mail. Hail Hydra).

    BTW, this might be of interest, as this man seems to have fallen down the memory hole:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_O'Flaherty




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  5. Today Church historians minimize all this. But, 1) The Church signed a treaty – the Lateran Treaty – with Mussolini in 1929. Thereafter, 2) Mussolini and the pope were headquartered comfortably the same town, Rome,for more than a decade.

    As the Nazis grew in power, there were occasional complaints from the pope. But no major rebellions.

    3) Hitler himself had been a Catholic alterboy. And 4) he likely learned much of his antisemitism from Catholic antisemitism; replacement theology. And the passion play narrative that "the Jews killed Jesus."

    More recently, 5) Bennedict XVI – a German – is acknowledged in his official biography, to have been a Nazi in his youth. And to have served in a German Luftwaffe unit.

    All this suggests that Pious was not properly diligent in sporadically opposing fascism, Nazism.




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  6. "Mussolini and the pope were headquartered comfortably the same town"

    "Comfortably"? Tell that to the Fascists. At one point, after the Nazis freed Mussolini, they marched in force on the Vatican and stood toe to toe with the Palatine Guard until the German Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, the ranking Axis commander in Rome, ordered the Fascists to stand down. Doesn't sound very "comfortable" to me.

    " But no major rebellions."

    Did you even bother to listen to the podcast, you moron?

    "he likely learned much of his antisemitism from Catholic antisemitism"

    You mean the Catholic Church that repeatedly reissued the Papal bull Sicut Judaeis condemning the persecution of Jews? Little Hitler should have paid closer attention when he was serving at the altar.

    "Bennedict XVI – a German – is acknowledged in his official biography, to have been a Nazi in his youth. And to have served in a German Luftwaffe unit."

    Ratzinger was from a known anti-Nazi family and refused to join the Hitler Youth until it was made compulsory and even then only did it to keep his father from being sent to a concentration camp if he continued to refuse, you fucking moron. And he was drafted into the Luftwaffe when that also became compulsory. And he deserted at the first opportunity. But let's not let facts get in the way of ranting nonsense.

    "All this suggests that Pious was not properly diligent in sporadically opposing fascism, Nazism.'

    All this proves that you're a clown whose idiotic biases are surpassed only by his total ignorance of history and his comical inability to spell (it's "Pius"and "Benedict", you idiot).

    Back in the "blocked" box for you. Goodbye.




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  7. Stark has never been high on my list of objective writers on these subjects. Since his conversion to Christianity he's become something of an apologist and while a lot of what he says is mainstream historical analysis, he gives it too much of an obvious apologetic spin for my liking.




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  8. Tim, I have a question: how principled was von Stauffenberg? Because I've heard before that he was quite happy about conquest of Poland. That he only decided to join conspiracy because Germany was losing the war?

    (also please write more stuff)




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  9. Like most human beings, von Stauffenberg was not one dimensional. So while he disliked most aspects of the Nazi ideology and never joined the Party, like many Germans he was initially okay with what was seen as a return to order and with Germany "reclaiming" what traditionalists like von Stauffenberg saw as their "rightful" territory in Poland. Like most Germans of his day, he held views which we would regard as shockingly anti-Semitic, but he also regarded the Nazi policies against Jews to be immoral and he was appalled at the massacres of Jews in Poland and the East. It was this that really turned him against the Nazis and this was long before Germany began to lose the War.

    "(also please write more stuff)"

    I am. I hope to have a new "Great Myths" article up before the end of March.




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  10. Several points — Catholics can have been anti-Semitic in the past without being as anti-Semitic as Nazis. In the 19th century, the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara certainly argues for that.

    And, whether or not Pius "supported Hitler," he didn't oppose him to the degree that he was deathly opposed to Communism.

    As far as the key issue — the Jews of Europe, then more narrowly, the Jews of Italy? Pius XII could have spoken out multiple times, and chose not to. Whether what the Church did in the background offsets Pius' public silences — both as a moral issue and as whether a public statement would have saved Jews — is a tough issue. But, I'll say that it's not as cleancut as I think Tim is making it out to be. Per his comment about Stauffenberg, it's certainly not one-dimensional.

    And, let's also not forget that official underground Catholic aid to Jews often had "hints" or "suggestions" of conversion attached to it. Indeed, Wiki has a pretty long entry devoted to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_of_Jews_to_Catholicism_during_the_Holocaust

    To others: Rodney Stark is full of shit. Tim is way too polite. It's not really Christianity per se that's the problem; it's more than he's a "Christianist" in the likes of Huntington et al, and this was the case long before his conversion to Christian belief.




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  11. "Catholics can have been anti-Semitic in the past without being as anti-Semitic as Nazis"

    I don't think I denied that Catholics have been anti-Semitic. The fact remains that the Papacy has repeatedly condemned the persecution of Jews throughout its history.

    "And, whether or not Pius "supported Hitler," he didn't oppose him to the degree that he was deathly opposed to Communism.
    "

    Really? And there's some objective calculus by which these relative "degrees" can be measured and compared?

    "As far as the key issue — the Jews of Europe, then more narrowly, the Jews of Italy? "

    For obvious reasons the Pope had far more room for the kind of local, on the ground action in Italy than elsewhere in occupied Europe. And it was that level of action that was seen as the most effective way to make a material difference.

    "Pius XII could have spoken out multiple times, and chose not to."

    Yes, and I went over why in some detail in the podcast.

    "But, I'll say that it's not as cleancut as I think Tim is making it out to be. Per his comment about Stauffenberg, it's certainly not one-dimensional."

    Did you actually listen to what I said? I said exactly that it is not "clean cut". So what the hell are you talking about?

    "And, let's also not forget that official underground Catholic aid to Jews often had "hints" or "suggestions" of conversion attached to it. "

    Let's not forget that supposed "conversions" was a major way that the Church could get Jews out of harm's way. There is ample evidence that this was a ruse and that Wiki page is riddled with biased claims and unsourced assertions.

    "Rodney Stark is full of shit. Tim is way too polite. "

    Tim is being as fair as possible. Stark is sometimes "full of shit", and you'll find I'm far from "polite" in, for example, my scathing review of his God's Battalions. And he has a clear bias, as I note, which is why I don't trust much of what he says. But this doesn't mean he gets everything wrong.




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  12. Of course, you can't measure such things in degrees, Tim, and you know it. That's a red herring, and I gladly call it that.

    The papacy, yes, did condemn the pogroms of the First Crusade and other things. That still doesn't make it as pure as the driven snow on anti-semitism. That's specifically why I mentioned the Mortara kidnapping, since he was held *inside the Papal States* afterward and the Pope himself was directly involved.

    I didn't listen to the podcast; in general, reading is faster. If you want to summarize your take on Pius XII's silence, I'm all eyeballs.

    I'll disagree with your take on the Wiki page. I assume that I'm in disagreement with your take on Pius XII. That's fine; in both cases, I'm far from alone, and much of my companionship is NOT Gnu Atheist.

    And, I haven't even mentioned the involvement of priests in the post-war "ratline."

    ++

    And, I'll disagree on the other side on Stark. The one, and only, thing of possible value I have ever found in his writings is his estimate on early Christian growth rates. That's it.




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  13. "That's a red herring, and I gladly call it that."

    So your claim about the "degree" by which he opposed Nazism vs Communism has no solid basis. He opposed both. And he was on the record as saying he believed Nazism to be worse than Communism.

    "That still doesn't make it as pure as the driven snow on anti-semitism."

    And I didn't say they were. But I mentioned Sicut Judaeis in response to a particularly stupid statement as a way of indicating that things weren't black and white.

    "I didn't listen to the podcast;"

    That's clear. Go do so. I'm too busy to spoon-feed someone who is too lazy to even bother to listen to something but pompous enough to critique it anyway. Most of the rest of your tired tropes are dealt with in it as well. Don't comment here again unless you've done the required homework.




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  14. I hadn't visited here for some time, to see what Tim would say. Based on all his incorrect comments in his last post, rather than listen to a podcast, I'll tidy up my blogroll.




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  15. "Wrong. I already refuted them"

    No, you didn't – I responded to each of your attempts at "refutation" above. What you said was wrong, was irrelevant to anything I said or misunderstood what I was saying. And you didn't even bother to listen to the podcast, and simply decided to dismiss years of research into the issues based on your misunderstanding of the comments above. And you have the gall to call ME "stubborn"!

    So goodbye – you won't be missed.




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