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LifeSiteNews: Nazis Were First to Exploit Pedophile Priests to Attack Entire Catholic Church

May 15, 2010

This article is from, and it is expanded upon at These Stone Walls. History can and will repeat itself if we don’t pay attention.

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

ROME, April 22, 2010 ( – “There are cases of sexual abuse that are coming to light every day against a great number of the members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, we are perhaps not talking so much about individual cases but rather a collective moral crisis that the cultural history of humanity may never have known at such a frightful and concerning level.  Numerous priests and religious have confessed to the crime.  There is no doubt that the thousands of cases that have come to be known to the authorities represent only a small fraction of the true number, since many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

Although the above quote could have appeared in any number of editorials in recent weeks, the statement was made by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in 1937, according to Italian journalist Massimo Introvigne.

In an article published recently for Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Catholic bishops’ conference, Introvigne says that Goebbels launched a fierce smear campaign against the Catholic Church following its condemnation of the Nazi regime that same year, attempting to convince the public that the Catholic priesthood was filled with child sex abusers.

Introvigne says that Goebbels’ campaign followed the same pattern seen in recent media attacks on the Church. Although it was based on a few real cases that had come to light in 1936, and far fewer that the number of cases currently being discussed from mostly the 1960s and 70s, it exaggerated their extent and attempted to revive them after they had already been resolved, in an attempt to discredit Catholics.

“The cases, which were few, but real, produced a very strong reaction from the episcopate,” writes Introvigne. “On June 2, 1936, the Bishop of Münster – Blessed Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), who was the soul of Catholic resistance to Nazism, and who was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI – had a declaration read at all the Sunday Masses in which he expressed ‘pain and sadness’ for these ‘abominable crimes’ that “cover our Holy Church with ignominy.'”

The German episcopate soon after published a condemnation of the perpetrators, and implemented what Introvigne called “severe measures” to prevent future crimes.  The bishops privately pointed out that the Hitler Youth and the schools had a far bigger problem with child sex abuse.

However, in March of 1937, the Nazis growing conflict with the Catholic Church came to a head, with the publication of the papal letter “Mit Brennender Sorge” (With Burning Concern), which was smuggled into the Riech and read from the pulpit of every Catholic parish.  In it, Pope Pius XI condemned both the behavior and the philosophy of the Nazis in unequivocal terms, and defended the Church’s Jewish heritage against Hitler’s racist attacks.

Goebbels responded by reviving the charges of sex abuse against Catholic priests, and created new ones, according to Introvigne, who writes that “It was the anti-Nazi encyclical of Pius XI that led to the great campaign of 1937. [German Jesuit priest Walter] Mariaux proved it publishing highly detailed instructions sent by Goebbels to the Gestapo, the political police of the Third Reich, and above all to journalists, just a few days after the publication of Mit Brennender Sorge, inviting them to ‘reopen’ the cases from 1936 and also older cases, constantly recalling them to public opinion.”

“Goebbels also ordered the Gestapo to find witnesses willing to accuse a certain number of priests, threatening them with immediate arrest if they didn’t collaborate, even if they were children,” he adds.

However, Introvigne writes that Fr. Mariaux published the confidential documents he had discovered in a two volume work in Spanish and English, which detailed the Nazis’ attack on the Catholic Church, thus discrediting it.

“Thanks to the courage of Canaris and his friends, and to the persistence of the Jesuit detective Mariaux, the truth was already out during the war,” notes Introvigne.

“The wickedness of the campaign of Goebbels aroused more indignation than the eventual guilt of some religious. The father of all moral panics in the area of pedophile priests blew up in the hands of the Nazi propagandists who had tried to organize it.”

Related Links

Goebbels and the pedophile priests operation (English version)

Goebbels e l’operazione preti pedofili (Italian version)

Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Concern), Pope Pius XI, March 14, 1937

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 11:04 am

    I must confess to being a little confused at the position some associated with the church are taking on this issue.

    To me, until this point there is ample evidence that sadly there have been a significant number of priests that have sexually abused children right across the globe.

    On that issue alone I or most others do not condemn the church though many would argue (and rightly so) that the church is vicariously liable.

    No … the true crime of the church has been that until comparatively recent times the hierarchy refused to acknowledge the problem and take action to deal with the issue.

    Worse still are instances (there appear to be many) where when a particular offender has been identified, rather than hand that individual over to the police without hesitation and fully cooperate in uncovering the full truth, the church would move the offender to another parish and hush the affair up.

    I have no interest in attacking the church or any organisation or individual that may have different beliefs to myself but I will not stand silent while innocents are harmed especially when the perpetrators are allowed to go on quietly enjoying their lives … and neither should any other civilised person.



    • catholicwideweb permalink
      July 8, 2010 9:40 pm

      i don’t disagree with what you are saying, jason. and i’m sure most others will agree with what you are saying. the leadership in the church handled these crimes very badly in the past.

      the point of this article tho, is the attack on mother church. men are the sinners in the pedophilia cases, both the actual pedophiles and those that covered up for them. the attack that this article was pointing out tho, was the attack on the church. the devil uses many disguises to try to bring the church down. and today it is the media saying that the entire church is tainted because of a number of bad individuals. yes, there has been criminal activity by members of the church. however, the church herself is not a criminal.

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