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The Response of the Catholic Church to Nazi Anti-Semitism - Term Paper Example

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The Response of the Catholic Church to Nazi Anti-Semitism

The Catholic Church offered no coordinated and widespread resistance to anti-Semitism, although many individuals either protested or acted clandestinely to save the lives of Jews.
One might have hoped that, with the advent of the brutal anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime, the traditional anti-Jewish tradition in the Catholic Church would have been cast aside in favor of solicitude and concern for the persecuted. However, several historians have characterized anti-Semitism as a policy area in which National Socialism and the Catholic Church had considerable common ground. Generally, the response of the Church was inaction. At the highest level, the Pope failed to issue public condemnations of the atrocities being committed across the continent, of which he was made aware. However, it should be noted that, despite the failure of the Church as a coordinating institution to protest, many Catholic individuals protested actively and often heroically, and that privately, even the Pope tried to save some Jews from the death camps. While the widespread reluctance to act may have been partly motivated by a Christian tradition of anti-Semitism, the fear of reprisals against European Catholics was also a strong factor.
In general terms, once Hitler had been established as Chancellor and had begun to consolidate his hold on the German government, the Catholic Church as an institution sought an understanding with the new regime, despite many of its less savory policies. In March 1933, in the course of a conference of bishops at Fulda, the Catholic Church in Germany abandoned its previously hostile stance towards the National Socialist movement, stating that ‘there was a reason to be confident’ that previous ‘prohibitions and warnings may no longer be necessary’ (Bracher, 479). At the same time, negotiations began for a concordat between the Church in Rome and the Nazi administration in Berlin.  ...Show more


From this paper, it is clear that one might have hoped that, with the advent of the brutal anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime, the traditional anti-Jewish tradition in the Catholic Church would have been cast aside in favor of solicitude and concern for the persecuted…
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