Fr. John Hunwicke, at his fine blog Mutual Enrichment, reminds us all that on this liturgical day, Monday of Holy Week, in 1937…
… the Gestapo raided diocesan offices and presbyteries all over Germany. The previous day, Palm Sunday, when the churches were packed, priests all over Germany had read publicly the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge [=With Burning Sorrow – Anxiety – Concern] of the Holy Father Pope Pius XI…. It had been smuggled into Germany in the Nuncio’s Diplomatic Bag and secretly printed …; secretly distributed by special couriers and proclaimed in every pulpit. And nobody leaked it; at least, not in time for the government to intervene. It burst upon the Fuehrer and his admirers as the most wonderful surprise. Not many people in the state apparatus will have had much sabbath rest that Sunday, as arrangements were frantically made to secure all copies for destruction.
Mit brennender Sorge is amazing. The letter is a masterpiece of rhetoric, aimed at building the resolve and courage of the whole Church which was experiencing ever greater persecution, ever greater restriction of and violation of religious freedom in direct violation of the concordat, the treaty that the State had legally ratified with the Church. Pius describes the problems that people were enduring and seeks to harden their resolve and console them in their suffering.
His word to young people are to be prized especially in our own day.
Indeed, this letter seems as if it could be aimed at our own decade.
And since letters of this kind are lacking today, when we need them, Mit brenneder Sorge is that much more precious a gift from our forebears!
Every once in a while, I read for you old encyclicals, with the hope that they will come alive for you who have never experienced their content and, especially, their style.
They don’t write them like this anymore!
As you listen, I’ll ask you to imagine yourself in a church in Germany on Palm Sunday 1937.
The horrors of the first world war and the poverty of economic devastation are still raw. The German Riech and National Socialist party is in the ascension. People are being rounded up and disappeared. Schools are being hijacked. Young people are being indoctrinated in evil disciplines. A nationalist paganism is being blended into everything the State does as it represses any rival. Huge numbers of your neighbors are caving or are being swept up by the trends. Society is on the ede of a knife. Hitler and his thugs are driving the Catholic presence from the public square. There had been a treaty a concordat signed between the German Reich and the Church, to guarantee the Church’s freedoms, but it is being systematically and blatantly ignored.
You are afraid… for yourselves, your children, your Church, your nation.
And so, Pius XI issued his encyclical, which had material from several contributers including Eugenio Card. Pacelli, former nuncio to German and future Pope Pius XII along with German Cardinal Michael Faulhaber and von Galen.
Imaginging yourself in the church on that Sunday, listen now to Pius XI’s words, read by the priest from the pulpit of your parish church…
Finally, I share another one of Fr. Hunwicke’s observations…
At one point, I even found myself fancifully wondering if the Sovereign Pontiff had looked prophetically into the future and discerned the shadowy figures of the Obamas of our own time. You will recall that at the heart of the project of the Obamas for destroying the Catholic Church is the slick and dirty legerdemain by which Freedom of Religion is replaced by Freedom of Worship; Circeian magic or a conjurer’s substitution trick which permits to Christians whatever silly jiggery pokery we like to get up to within our church buildings just as long as we don’t try to proclaim our Holy Faith in any public forum; just as long as we don’t have the impertinence to hope that the Law of Christthe King might be expressed, or even tolerated, by the laws of men.
Evil wears a different face and speaks a different patois in every different era. The smart thing is to be able to spot it despite the disguises.
Pius XI’s Mit Brennender Sorge is a condemnation of all the Obamas of all the ages.
For more on Pius XII v. Evil – HERE
UPDATE 22 March:
Today is the feast of Bl. Clemens August Card. von Galen, the Lion of Münster!
You can read about this amazing man, who especially fought the euthanasia policies of the Nazi Reich.