QUAERITUR: The Church on neo-Nazism

From a reader:

Is there an official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on national socialism, hitlerism and white supremism?

Several people near our community think that ultra-conservative, ultra-radical-“rigthwing” neo-nazism (with a hint of sincretism and perennialism) is the ultimate christian political conviction.

I have a hard time believing that true Christians can think that way.

I don’t recall a recent statement explicitly condemning NEO-Nazism.  I am not sure there has to be one, either.  There are many references to the horrors inflicted on the world by Nazism scattered through the writings and allocutions of Popes before, during, and after WWII.  The same goes for Communism.

You could look at Pius XI’s mighty letter Mit brennender Sorge to get a sense of what the Church thinks of Nazism.


Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community – however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things – whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.”

I think people sometimes forget that just because an encyclical was issued a long time ago that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still part of the body of teaching of the Roman Pontiffs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Hitler declared all other parties as illegal after the Nazi Party victory in 1933. I was under the impression that before that date, the Catholic Church in Germany had actually made a statement forbidding Catholics to vote for Hitler’s party. Here is a reference to this: “the bishop of Mainz excommunicated all Catholic members of the party in his diocese, and banned uniformed groups entering churches ((KG 12 and A R 166)). He also gave instructions that party members would not be allowed to take an official part in funerals and other services ((RD 8, 9 and 12)). The other bishops decided to await the annual bishops’ Conferences, so as to be able to formulate a united policy. In Rome the Osservatore Romano of October 11th 1930 commented: “Belonging to the National Socialist Party of Hitler is irreconcilable with the Catholic Conscience.” In his New Year message, Cardinal Bertram of Breslau condemned extreme nationalism, without specifying the Nazi Party ((KG 13)”. Hitler seized power without a majority vote in some areas, and in some parts of Germany, the Catholics were already lukewarm and not heeding the laws of the Church. Only 32% of the German population in the 1920s were Catholic.

  2. Marie Teresa says:

    Although issued by Pope Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge was written by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli who became Pope Pius XII.

    In light of this strong anti-Nazi statement, no one could rightfully accuse our dear Pope Pius XII of not speaking out against the heinous crimes perpetrated by Hitler’s regime.

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    BTW, Communism is in the same disgusting bucket as Nazism, even though they are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. They’re both totalitarian schemes intent upon the exclusive and ruthless use of power concentrated in one secular source at the top of society, no matter what their public press might claim, and they always have been so. Fancy names for some dictator’s insane power trip, both of them.

  4. The Cobbler says:

    Looking through this lense, and then assuming those we argue with are looking through it also, would help a great deal of the discussion of the issues related to that “white paper”. More both-and, less treating any one thing as sacrosanct.

  5. Fabrizio says:

    And let us never forget that the full name of this demonic ideology is National-SOCIALISM. It is a form of socialism, and as such incompatible with Catholicism, even without the racist/pagan elements . Those who think otherwise are either ignorant of basic facts or are out of their mind or are lying (or, all of the above).

  6. Murciano says:

    I made a comment yesterday but it appears to be censored. I just want to remember the people the words of Saint Augustine: In essentia unitas, in dubia libertas et in omnia caritas. Not being a nazi is not essential in catholic faith.

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