... was the day when the Gestapo raided diocesan offices and presbyteries all over Germany. The previous day, Palm Sunday, when the churches were packed, priests all over Germany had read publicly the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge of the Holy Father Pope Pius XI. It had been smuggled into Germany in the Nuncio's Diplomatic Bag and secretly printed (as when the secret press was thumping away in the attic of Stonor House to produce S Edmund Campion's Decem Rationes); secretly distributed by special couriers and proclaimed in every pulpit. And nobody leaked it; at least, not in time for the government to intervene.
It burst upon the Fuehrer and his admirers as the most wonderful surprise. Not many people in the state apparatus will have had much sabbath rest that Sunday, as arrangements were frantically made to secure all copies for destruction. Rumour has it that in some places a copy was hidden in the Tabernacle. Unrubrical, as you will remind me; but, dare I say it, most wonderfully suitable.
According to some reports, it had been drafted by Cardinal Faulhaber, Fr Ratzinger's ordaining bishop, no 'leftie' but an old-style conservative German nationalist; and toughened up a little by Cardinal Pacelli. Sadly, since I am not a Germanist, I am reduced to reading it in an English translation. But it still strikes me as immensely moving: to hear the authentic voice of the Vicar of Christ roundly condemning the Zeitgeist in such ringing and unmistakable tones brings tears to my eyes. Those were the days! I commend it to you, if you have not read it recently, or at all.
It condemns the ideology of Race and of Blood, and of a Superman who mystically incarnates in his own person those crazed and dangerous myths. But in its essence, it condemns something that is still very much with us today despite any legislative proscriptions of Nazism: the attempt, any and every attempt, to set up a rival to Christ the King.
The real object of its condemnation was the habit of pandering to the Spirit of the Age. At our present moment, the Zeitgeist summons us to applaud Abortion; Fluid Gender; all Sexualities which dissociate the sexual act from the actions of a Man married to a Woman. Then, the Age commended to its craven victims and stooges the murderous ideology of Race and Blood.
Then, the Vicar of Christ condemned the error of his day, and did so boldly, even dramatically. This is the duty of every Roman Pontiff ... and every minister of the Word of God ... of every Christian!! ... in every age.
Evil wears a different face and speaks a different patois in each different era. The smart thing is to be able to spot it despite its differing disguises.
Pius XI's Mit Brennender Sorge is a condemnation of all the fashionable dogmas of all the ages which challenge the Lordship of the Redeemer.
Long live Christ the King!