“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

April 22, 2010

How the Nazis engineered a pedophile-priest scare in the 1930s

Italian Catholic intellectual Massimo Introvigne (whom I met on a couple of occasions when in Rome for speaking engagements), has contributed an important and eye-opening article about the phenomenon of priest scandals, as seen through the lens of history. Fairly recent history, to be more specific.

Introvigne provides an historical overview and analysis of a precursor to the current priest scandal — one that was concocted by minions of the Third Reich in the late 1930s as a gambit against the Catholic Church. They sought to incite a "moral panic" that would sway public opinion against the Church, which the Nazis rightly understood to be a formidable obstacle to their hegemonic designs.

As the present crop of Catholic moral scandals is relentlessly sifted and sieved by a media in search of even the most minute gleanings of priestly prurience, take note that this has happened before, as Introvigne points out, in Hitler-era Germany. The New York Times and like-minded organs of modern-day antipathy toward the Catholic Church have learned to exploit Marie Bashkirtseff's maxim, "The weak brood over the past; the strong take their revenge on it."
“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

An editorial from a great secular newspaper in 2010? No: It’s a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. This speech, which had a large international echo, was the apex of a campaign launched by the Nazi regime to discredit the Catholic Church by involving it in a scandal of pedophile priests.

Two hundred and seventy-six religious and forty-nine diocesan priests were arrested in 1937. The arrests took place in all the German dioceses, in order to keep the scandals on the front pages of the newspapers. . . . (continue reading)