Dear Adrian (from Gillian)
An interesting essay and worth bringing to peoples’ attention.I will however criticise your somewhat flippant statement the the Vatican wholesale endorsed Mussolini and Fascism. It is somewhat more nuanced than that.Under Pius XI, the Vatican was famous for concordats and Pius himself was driven by a firm conviction in the brotherhood of all men and the Kingship of Christ. The Catholic Church was allowed by the Bolsheviks to help with the famine relief efforts in the 1920s provided there were no helpers from Britain, France or the Kingdom of Serbia (all hothbeds of anti Bolshevik Russian exiles). Yes, on the other hand, Pius XI viewed the growth of socialism and its attendant anti-clericalism in Italy with horror. What happened in Mexico haunted him and memories of the Masonic inspired anti-clericalism in Italy in the 19th Century were fresh. Mussolini guaranteed religious freedom for Catholics and Pius signed up to that. Fascism was developing, it was a beast that was growing and had not reached maturity. In France the Catholic Church was totally polairsed between socialist sympathisers and the right wing monarchists and proto-fascists of Action Franciase. Pius XI became very unpopoular for condeming Action Francaise, but he would have no truck with the Fascism they were endorsing. Pius XI finally broke all ‘friendly’ ties with Mussolini when Mussolini sought to disband Pius XIs beloved Catholic Action in Italy (not to be confused with Action Franciase). This was a Europe wide lay association of Catholics that was basically the Salvation Army of the Catholic Church. It was heavy on social justice and working with the poor and marginalised. In Nazi Germany they were considered such a threat that the German leader of Catholic Action was murdered in the Night of the Long Knives. They were avowedly anti-bankster capitalism, anti-fascist and anti-racist. Indeed many in the English speaking Catholic Church considered Pius XI to be a socialist because of his promotion of Catholic Action. He was due to release an encyclical condemning all forms of totalitarian government when he died suddenly from multple heart attacks in 1939. His successor chose not to release the encyclical and chose not to come down as hard on Fascism as Pius XI was beginning to do.
Dear Gillian (from Adrian)
I would agree – the Vatican support for fascism both before, during and AFTER WWII certainly was far more nuanced than I suggested. After-all, Mussolini granted the Vatican full ‘Independence’ from the Italian State in 1929 – and this was not reversed in 1945 (as would be expected as a ‘gain’ made from fascist ‘War Crimes’). The Vatican still benefits from the fascism of Mussolini today. The Italian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian Catholic troops were ‘blessed’ by their Catholics priests, whilst a papal message of good luck was read out prior to these soldiers crossing the start line of Operation Ost (East) – Hitler’s 1941 plan to wipe out the Slavic race in the USSR. As they moved into the USSR, these Catholic troops assisted the Nazi Germans to commit untold War Crimes justified (for them) by their religion. The Bolsheviks were presented by the Vatican as ‘Jews’ and Communism as nothing more than ‘Jewish tribalism’ (with neither of these anti-Semitic assumptions being correct). As the Vatican endorsed and actively assisted the Holocaust – this anti-Communist (anti-Jewish) policy continued after WWII with the Vatican assisting the escape of key Nazi Germans to South America (Klaus Barbie for example) – not to mention the 10,000 Ukrainian SS War Criminals that Churchill resettled in Scotland (with the cover-story that they were ‘Polish’ refugees escaping the Communist presence in Poland) at the behest of the Pope to escape Soviet justice. I didn’t have time to add all this as it might have digressed the reader away from the main point of the story line concerning the complexities of the Julian Shchutskii case. Interestingly, whilst openly supporting ‘White’ fascism, the Vatican was never that keen on supporting Japanese fascism with the same theological zeal!
Dear Adrian (from Gillian)
The nature of the blessing given to Catholic troops was a ‘General Absolution’ it is given when persons are unable to make Confession but whose lives are in great danger. Fr Mychal Judge the chaplain of the New York fire service died during the Twin Towers 9/11 atttacks giving something similar to those inside the building. It is not an endorsement of the politics of the situation.