Catholic Church Standing Essay

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¶ … Catholic Church standing as one of the most influential institutions in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century, it seems natural for its position toward Nazi anti-Semitism to have had a particular importance for affairs on the continent at the time. In spite of the Vatican's determination to put across its opposition toward the totalitarian regimes ruling over most of Europe during the period, its power was limited as a result of the growing influence that Hitler and Mussolini came to have. The Church's stance was related to imposing a Modus Vivendi approach, stressing the fact that it did not support Hitler and Mussolini and that it expected the two leaders to accept its perspective in regard to Nazi anti-Semitism.

Even though this matter is irrelevant in this situation, it is nonetheless very improbable for the millions of Jewish individuals killed during the Holocaust to have experienced such suffering if it were not for the Christian anti-Judaism that has dominated the European landscape for the last two millennia. However, it is certainly impossible for one to attribute the events happening during the Second World War to the existence of the Catholic Church.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Essay on Catholic Church Standing as One of the Assignment

It is difficult to determine the exact impact that the Catholic Church had on the Holocaust, as even with the fact that the institution can be considered responsible for saving a great deal of Jews from being murdered in Nazi death camps, it did not use its full power to interfere with Hitler's plans. Pope Pius XII acted courageously and without considering the risks he was exposing himself to when he struggled to have numerous Jewish individuals removed from the hands of the Nazis. The leader of the Catholic Church had an essential status in Europe, as he was one of the main official forces criticizing Nazi affairs and directly lobbying regarding the wrongness in anti-Semitism. Pope Pius XII was not only of the most influential European individuals rising against the Nazi regime's methods, as he was in certain moments the only individual courageous enough to sustain his position regarding how he was severely disturbed concerning the extreme form of anti-Semitism promoted by Hitler. Given that he was an unyielding force in fighting Nazi anti-Semitism, the Nazis were particularly concerned regarding his influence and the fact that he prevented the Nazi war machine from functioning at its full potential. "Pius' combination of diplomatic pressure, careful but sustained criticism while maintaining an essential Vatican neutrality in war-torn Europe, as well as direct action through his nuncios and the local Church where possible, saved what some have estimated as 860,000 Jewish lives" (Phayer).

There is much controversy regarding Pope Pius XII's opinion in regard to the Holocaust, as while some prefer to praise him as a result of the contributions he brought to Jewish people and to society as a whole, others are convinced that he did not act when he had the opportunity to do so and that numerous Jews have died as a result of the relationship that the leader of the Catholic Church had with Hitler (Roth & Rittner, 178). John Cornwell's book "Hitler's Pope" harshly condemns Pius for not having given sufficient attention to conditions in Europe during the Second World War. Cornwell insists that the pope had actually been a tool in the hands of Hitler and that it was his anti-Semite convictions that stood as a main factor in preventing him from getting actively engaged in fighting against the Nazis. In trying to support his accusations, Cornwell came up with a series of documents linking Pius to events in which the pope was reluctant to support Jewish people on account of their race. Most of the writer's accusations are however unfounded and it is obvious that it was his determination to damage Pius's image that fueled him in writing he book and not solid proof that would demonstrate that he was actually right in his campaign (Dalin 118).

In an attempt to motivate their collaboration with the Nazis, Catholics tried to highlight the fact that their intention was actually that of preventing a greater evil, as they believed that it would have virtually been impossible for them to prevent the destruction that was waiting to happen. In spite of the fact that he did not felt threatened by the Catholic Church, Hitler's "ideal solution was an agreement similar to the Lateran treaty in which the Catholics voluntarily abandoned independent political action" (Roth & Rittner, 192). In an attempt to do so, the German chancellor provided Catholics with the positions they longed for in Germany, in order for them to be pleased and to be reluctant to proceed with trying to oppose Hitler's plan of actions. Even with the fact that he was somewhat reluctant to become an ally of the Nazi government, Pius eventually accepted Hitler's offer, virtually ignoring the advices he received from German church leaders. In his determination to organize the Catholic Church better, Pius failed to see the coming threat represented by Hitler and the Nazi dictatorial regime (Roth & Rittner, 193).

In wanting to make a deal with Hitler, Pius' principal intention was to ensure that the Catholic Church would benefit in the long-term. The pope was concerned that Hitler would come to control the German Church if he did not intervene and made certain that only the pope would have the power to name bishops. Pius was to a certain degree aware of what was going to happen in Germany concerning Christians. "The persecution of the churches was the outcome of two of the most significant aspects of the Nazi system, its political nihilism and its ideological fanaticism" (Conway, 328). In wanting to impose their power over Germany, the Nazis knew that they had to destroy its traditions and practically every institution that seemed influential at the time and that was likely to interfere with politics. Hitler was primarily determined to have the church gradually lose influence because he did not appreciate Christianity's view regarding how people were all equal from God's perspective. Moreover, the German chancellor considered that Christianity was essentially a derivate of Jewish beliefs combined with the corruption present in the Catholic Church. A doctrine of equality was the very thing that Nazis did not want in their country. The Catholic Church was never in Hitler's plans concerning the future, even with the fact that Pius struggled to maintain a close relationship with Hitler and Nazi Germany in hope that he would protect the Catholic Church's future by doing so.

Cornwell further supported his beliefs that Pius was actually appreciative toward the Nazi regime by relating to the Catholic Church's desire to fight against the Bolsheviks, as they were considered one of the greatest threat to Catholicism and to Christianity as a whole. It is difficult to determine whether or not Pius did support the Nazi regime as its power grew, as what is certain is that the pope considered that he had to take immediate action in order for the Catholic Church to experience as little damage as possible from the overall state of affairs involving the greatest powers in the world at the time (Roth & Rittner, 194).

In spite of the pope's morality, his background and the background of the Catholic Church as a whole make it less surprising that he did not get engaged in saving Jewish people at first. "The pope's attitudes were partly culturally determined, partly a response to the history of Europe since the French Revolution, and partly a result of his own experience. There was little, if anything, in his culture that would have fostered a sympathetic view of the Jewish situation in the 1930s and 1940s" (Roth & Rittner, 195).

It is perfectly normal for numerous individuals to criticize Pius as a consequence of the fact that numerous Jewish individuals lost their lives during the Holocaust, given that he was among the only persons in Europe that could actually do something in order to reduce the number of people dying. His intervention in the Holocaust is largely ignored by his critics because they are unable to comprehend why he did so little, considering that he was apparently capable of saving much more lives. One of his main faults is represented by his dedication to the well-being of the Catholic Church. His obsession with preserving the church's influence stopped him from focusing on what was more important at the time. A person does not necessarily have to commit a crime in order to be considered a criminal, as the respective individual can very well remain indifferent to other crimes being committed in order for the rest of the world to consider him partly responsible for what happened (Levy, 549).

The Catholic Church went through great efforts in order to avoid a direct clash with Nazism, given that the pope and his followers considered that they would guarantee Christianity's safety by maintaining an apparent indifferent position in regard to the wrongdoing committed by Hitler's forces.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Catholic Church Standing" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Catholic Church Standing.  (2011, February 24).  Retrieved April 14, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Catholic Church Standing."  24 February 2011.  Web.  14 April 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Catholic Church Standing."  February 24, 2011.  Accessed April 14, 2021.