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Austin Cline

Pope Blames Atheists for Holocaust, Ignores Catholic Complicity

By September 21, 2010

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Pope Benedict XVI launched his visit to Britain in style by blaming atheists and atheism for Nazi atrocities, completely ignoring the widespread complicity of Catholics and Catholicism in Nazism and the Holocaust. The fact that Hitler openly opposed and oppressed atheism doesn't matter. The fact that Nazi government explicitly promoted Christianity doesn't matter. The fact that just about everything the Nazis did to the Jews they borrowed from past Catholic practices doesn't matter.

Because, you know, facts just don't matter when you're the pope. It's easier to blame outsiders who are already dislike than to face your own complicity in past crimes. It also helps deflect attention from current crimes, a problem the Catholic Church has in a big way. Maybe that's why Pope Benedict decided to single out atheists in this speech -- in 2005, he merely blamed liberal democracy for the rise of fascism and thus the Holocaust.

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime's attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny".

Source: Posterous [emphasis added]

Atheist extremism, eh? Was "atheist extremism" behind the medieval Catholic Church's decision to force Jews to live in ghettos, restrict them to certain occupations, require them to wear yellow badges, and generally oppress them as second class citizens? Was "atheist extremism" behind Martin Luther's recommendation that Jews be driven from Germany or even killed? No, that was Christianity all the way -- and when the Nazi government adopted all those Christian measures against the Jews, it was easy for German Christians to go along with it all because the Nazis were simply continuing traditions that were centuries old.

Was "atheist extremism" behind Hitler's vocal attacks against atheists and atheism? Was "atheist extremism" behind Nazi Party's platform of "Positive Christianity"? Was "atheist extremism" behind Hitler's calls for a return to traditional family and Christian values? Of course not, there wasn't anything "atheist" about any of this, "extremist" or otherwise. Don't forget that Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic and the Roman Catholic never excommunicated him or any Catholic member of the Nazi regime.

These were all consistent with the traditional, conservative Christianity in Germany of this era -- that's why so many conservative Christian voters openly and enthusiastically supported the Nazis. I suppose some atheists must have supported them too, but atheists were probably more likely to support the communists -- and the communists were imprisoned or killed by the Nazis long before they got around to the Jews.

There were no atheist institutions which supported Hitler, the Nazis, or fascism. There were, however, Catholic and Christian leaders and institutions which did exactly that. There are no major atheist leaders today who were once members of any Nazi organizations, but there is at least one major Catholic leader who was: Pope Benedict XVI. For him to attack atheism and atheists for something he himself was once part of is the height of hypocrisy. But like I said, facts just don't matter when you're the pope, do they?

Comments
September 22, 2010 at 10:47 am
(1) Steve Kellmeyer says:

If we reflected on atheism in the 20th century, we would quickly encounter men like Mao Tse Tung, who killed 45 million in his great leap forward or Josef Stalin, who killed around 20 million or Pol Pot, who left 25% of his country’s population in body bags.

Now, the Pope was visiting England, not Russia, not China, not Cambodia. So, if he asks the English to meditate on something, it’s probably going to be something from English history. Since some people in the crowd may still remember the late unpleasantness in England in the first part of the 20th century, it’s not unreasonable to use that experience as a point of meditation.

So, he asks them to consider Nazism. The Nazis didn’t just target Jews – Auschwitz killed Polish Catholics exclusively for the first 26 months of operation, before the first trainload of Jews ever arrived. In some areas of Europe, upwards of 90% of the Catholic priests were in death camps.

If that’s promotion of Christianity, then I’d not like to see what persecution looks like.

September 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

If that’s promotion of Christianity, then I’d not like to see what persecution looks like.

You mean, like how Catholics and Protestants killed each other in the millions during their various wars of religion? They thought they were promoting Christianity too.

Then there were Catholics killing dissident Christians in France as part of the Crusades. That was “promoting” Christianity as well.

The fact of the matter is, Christians have routinely killed and persecuting other Christians while trying to promote Christianity.

September 23, 2010 at 9:56 am
(3) dreadful scathe says:

The pope was visiting Britain, not just England. And his comments asked Britons to “consider Nazism” and its “godlessness” – except that Nazism was anything but godless. As Austin states, all evidence points towards the Nazis being anti-atheist. What the Pope suggested is completely false.

September 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm
(4) WhiteKnightLeo says:

Except that communism is a religion, so neither Stalin nor Mao were atheists. It is a collective-worship religion.

September 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm
(5) dave Y says:

you need an education on the “Church of England” and their treatment of catholics Steve, protestants have killed catholics far quite a while in the history of the church, does this mean that protestant aren’t christian???

September 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm
(6) Steve Kellmeyer says:

If you want to see the numbers on various religious wars versus wars of science, see:
http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2007/09/in-praise-of-religious-war.html

You might want to look up the Truce of God and the Peace of God, and compare those rules of warfare to more modern affairs.

You should also spend a minute or two considering what motivates people to war and what doesn’t.
For instance, this short essay:
http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2004/01/building-wall.html

It is impossible to get people to fight a race war if they have not yet developed a concept of biological race. You can’t get people to fight a war over economic philosophy if they haven’t developed economic philosophy yet.

When theology was the only really well-developed science in Europe, it is not surprising to find people justify their wars by invoking religion and theology. Once we have biological, chemical, economic and other sciences, we find that people started using THOSE as justification for war INSTEAD of theology.

Why might that be?
Because theology, at least Christian theology, isn’t very good at justifying war, while science is GREAT!

As far the Pope’s description of Nazism as godless, the Nazis said all kinds of contradictory things about religion, as did Hitler himself. In that regard, you can find evidence to support nearly anything you want to attribute to them.

Obviously, the Pope (who actually lived under the Nazi regime and may therefore have somewhat more knowledge of how they thought they you do) obviously regards that kind of inconsistency as a form of atheism.

You disagree.

I’m sorry, but I think the Pope’s experience and knowledge is a little more thorough than yours in this regard.

September 24, 2010 at 8:29 am
(7) Austin Cline says:

When theology was the only really well-developed science in Europe,

Since when was theology a science?

Because theology, at least Christian theology, isn’t very good at justifying war, while science is GREAT!

Except for all the success people have had in using religion to motivate violence – not just in the past, but today.

As far the Pope’s description of Nazism as godless, the Nazis said all kinds of contradictory things about religion, as did Hitler himself. In that regard, you can find evidence to support nearly anything you want to attribute to them.

There are only contradictions to the extent that lots of different people didn’t all hold exactly the same viewpoint. The policies of the Nazi government, though, were fairly consistent – to at least as consistent as governments can be. In this case, the it was consistent in suppressing freethought groups while promoting Christianity.

Obviously, the Pope (who actually lived under the Nazi regime and may therefore have somewhat more knowledge of how they thought they you do) obviously regards that kind of inconsistency as a form of atheism.

Right, because “inconsistency about religion” is one of the definitions in the OED for “atheism.”

As far as rationalizations go, you’ve hit a new low point.

I’m sorry, but I think the Pope’s experience and knowledge is a little more thorough than yours in this regard.

You don’t have to rely on my “experience and knowledge,” you just have to rely on historical facts. I’d vastly prefer historical facts to the hate-mongering lies of the pope and pathetic apologetics of his sycophants.

September 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(8) Steve Kellmeyer says:

Theology is a formal science, like math or logic.
Indeed, Catholic theologians were the ones who re-introduced Aristotelian logic to the West. Catholics built the Western European university system, and the formal science of theology, along with law and later, medicine, was the major course of study for half a millennium.

For most of Christian history, Christian theology has not been used to justify violence. If we take Christian history as starting around the year 30-35 AD, then we only see “Christian wars” being waged from roughly the year 1100 through perhaps 1700.

Even then, we see Christian attempts to limit the violence through rules like the Truce of God, the Peace of God, excommunication for those who used certain weapons (e.g., the crossbow) and/or engaged in certain types of military or paramilitary activity (the joust, the duel, etc.).

Islam, on the other hand, has waged religious war from its inception in the 620s through today. So, much of what you dislike about “religious violence” is really a dislike of Muslims.

As for the Nazis, Martin Bormann was a very vocal atheist and a very powerful man in the Nazi hierarchy. If you want to claim that the Nazis crushed atheists, you’ll have to explain Bormann, et. al.

Furthermore, as the 150-volume Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection”at Cornell University attests, by 1940, Hitler had completely repudiated Christianity. The Nazis intended to wipe Christianity out of Europe along with Judaism. William Donovan was the chief prosecutor in the Nuremburg trials – the collection is what his team put together for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

So, the documentary evidence supports the Pope.
All you’ve managed to reference is your own assertions to the contrary.

I think I’ll take the testimony of 150 bound volumes of Nuremburg trial evidence, along with the testimony of an eye-witness (the Pope) who is also a better historian than you’ll ever be.

September 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm
(9) MrMarkAZ says:

If you want to see the numbers on various religious wars versus wars of sciencean arbitrary set of historical occurrences I decided were “sciencey” based on an undefined set of criteria, see:
http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2007/09/in-praise-of-religious-war.html

Fixed that for you.

You offer no explanation or criteria for what defines a war of science. As far as I know, no wars have ever been fought by scientists over the General Theory of Relativity or whether or not Avagadro’s Constant is truly E=hv.

As best I can figure, you define a “war of science” as any war in which scientific principles were put to use in any kind of conflict, which would include … well … all of them. Nuclear weapons, projectile firearms, swords, catapults, clubs, rocks … all subject to the evil laws of physics. This definition is so vague as to be meaningless.

You also fail to take into account the innumerable benefits harnessed from our study of science: clean water, vitamin supplements, antibiotics, surgery, artificial limbs, learning assistive technologies, the printing press, solar energy, drought-resistant foodstuffs … I think, on the balance, science has saved, on an exponential scale, far more lives than it has destroyed.

More simply put: science gives us airplanes. Religion, and its dull-witted sycophants, gives us people who will fly them into buildings.

September 24, 2010 at 9:08 pm
(10) Dave Y says:

Wow, you really have no idea of what your talking about!
you need to look into what Hitler wanted to REPLACE the abrahamic traditions with, his religion was going to PROVE the purity of aryans, and it was just another form of inteligent design, his “Atlantian Age”said that the atlantian race was a bunch of giants that had dinosaurs as pets, just a little proof of his DEXADRINE delusions.
the reality is that this diatribe of yours may fly with ignorants of the bible thumper gang, your talking to a bunch of atheists that know how to read and like to learn, so your going to have to do a much better job than this to confuse us!

September 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm
(11) Dave Y says:

so the only thing you have to back up your claim is a blog YOU wrote?kinda sad bud!

and it seems you skipped the holy roman CONQUEST in the americas that killed off more than 200 million people!

and the fact that the pope was raised as a NAZI makes you think he wouldn’t lie about their views to make himself look better? kinda sad bud!

September 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm
(12) John Martin says:

I’m sure that since the Pope was a part of the Hitler Youth as a youngster, he did have quite a grounding in Nazism. I’m sure that put him in good stead when it came time for him to head up the wing of the Catholic Church that used to house the Inquisition.

September 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm
(13) George says:

@ Steve Kellmeyer

“As far the Popeís description of Nazism as godless, the Nazis said all kinds of contradictory things about religion, as did Hitler himself. In that regard, you can find evidence to support nearly anything you want to attribute to them.

Obviously, the Pope (who actually lived under the Nazi regime and may therefore have somewhat more knowledge of how they thought they you do) obviously regards that kind of inconsistency as a form of atheism. ”

If the Pope had “somewhat more knowledge” then surely he had seen the belt buckle of the Nazi wehrmacht which stated “Gott Mit Uns” or God with us. Millions of them. That doesn’t sound contradictory at all. They had “god” marching before them as they did their evil.

So you’re an apologetic for the monstrosity Steve?

September 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm
(14) DiscoveredJoys says:

From the Wikipedia entry for ‘Freethought’:

Following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, most freethought organizations were banned, though some right-wing groups that worked with Volkisch associations were tolerated by the Nazis until the mid 1930s.

References are quoted too. Hard to justify calling Nazis ‘atheist extremists’ – unless of course to a certain mindset all non Roman Catholics are ‘atheists’.

September 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm
(15) Mark Thomas says:

Just a minor correction on your exposure of Pope Ratzo’s lies and hypocrisy about Nazism: propaganda minister Goebbels was excommunicated for marrying a divorced Protestant woman.

This exception shows that the Catholic Church was following the actions of the Nazis, and could have excommunicated or chastised other Nazis — but chose not to.

There’s so much more about the complicity of the Vatican with the Nazis, that you haven’t written about here. A large point is the concordat between them in 1933. Because of this, in the 1930′s and 40′s Germany was paying the Vatican about $100 million per year. It’s easy to conclude that this money helped persuade the pope from doing or saying anything substantial about the Holocaust or other crimes perpetrated by the Nazis.

Note also that after WWII the Vatican helped get some of the worst of the Catholic Nazi war criminals out of Europe to safety.

September 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm
(16) Steve Kellmeyer says:

If you want to complain about the concordat between the Vatican and the Nazis, make sure you ALSO complain about the concordat between the Zionists and the Nazis, concluded just one month later.

But that would destroy your thesis, eh?

As for what constitutes a “war of science”, I think we can safely say that any war which is not waged for religious reasons is waged for other reasons – reasons of political science (capitalism vs. communism vs national socialism vs international socialism) or reasons of biology (Aryans superior to Slavs superior to Jews or Japanese superior to Chinese) – are wars of science.

The fascinating things about atheists is their ignorance.
When you start quoting Wikipedia as a source, I think the conversation – such as it was – is pretty much done.

September 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm
(17) Austin Cline says:

When you start quoting Wikipedia as a source, I think the conversation – such as it was – is pretty much done.

And yet, Wikipedia is one more source than you have cited.

September 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm
(18) dave Y says:

I don’t blame you for not trusting wikipedia, but I knew the quote was correct, so I found a link for you

http://www.iheu.org/node/1022

this article was written by Gregor Ziese-Henatsch, and it says what you don’t want to hear, that religion is the basis of war, it always has been and always will be!
the concept of God is the invention of man, the first Gods were the kings of the world, and as man bacame more inteligent, the kings realized that men would figure out that the kings were just men, so the kings became the mouth peice of God, namely Abraham and Constantine as the most known of them.

this also coincided with the birth of the concept of nations as compared to tribes, Abraham tried this and failed while Constantine succeded, the reality of the one God concept was to to create a one people, otherwise known as a nation, this is some thing the bible thumper gang has a lot of trouble with, to begin with, most sheeple have no idea that Constantine was the one to invent christianity when he said he was no longer a God, but he was the only one allowed to speak to God.

welcome to the land of knowledge!

September 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm
(19) Borsia says:

To start with, Hitler and the Nazis condemned atheism and atheist coupling them with communists. At the same time he / they came out in strong support of Christianity, and was himself Christian, although he was actually a Jew.
The communists; Stalin and Mao didnít kill anyone in the name of atheism. The Chinese never were theist and both of these tyrants as well as Pol Pot didnít persecute anyone based on their belief but rather on their perceived threat to their authority. They only targeted religions because they didnít want any kind of organized opposition.
(Mao targeted Buddhists despite the fact that it isnít a theistic religion.)
Both Mao and Pol Pot went after anyone with any kind of higher education, regardless of their religion, if they werenít a part of the inner circle. The first to be condemned by Mao and executed or imprisoned werenít religious leaders they were teachers, lawyers, land owners and business owners. The same is true of Pol Pot, although he also killed everyone old enough to be wise in the broader sense. In both cases it was the youth who carried out most of the orders.

So when it comes to killing in the name of god(s) or religion vs atheism, it has only been done by religion / churches and led by their respective leaders, including some Popes.

September 25, 2010 at 3:55 am
(20) Anne says:

If there is one thing that has made me madder than the Pope’s visit here (to England) and the complete guff he was speaking, its reading some of the comments to your article above. How dare the Pope purport to be so right about Christianity and Roman Catholicism in particular when it is directly responsible for all the atrocities in Northern Ireland. Where children are taught to hate at a very early age. Only its not the colour of their skins, its the religion of their fathers and mothers. One can assume that they are far too young to have made up their own minds or to have been given the chance to make up their own minds. They’ve been indoctrinated as have the children who appeared in the choirs etc on the venues that greeted the pope (not using the capital letter is deliberate, he should be downgraded). He was treated like a pop star and I can think of a few of those who would be far better to take note of than him. He was supposed to be here on a state visit, supposedly invited as a fellow head of state by the Queen. If a visiting head of state had made the sort of comments the pope did there would quite naturally have been a tremendous furore. I didn’t even see him making courtesy calls on the Prime Minister or the Queen herself, who is actually supposed to be head of the Church of England (but that is another story – I’m a republican as well as an atheist which obviously makes me persona non grata in a lot of places). The only shred of light is that the protest mounted by the National Secular Society was also very well attended when more than 12,000 people marched through the streets of London.

September 29, 2010 at 11:12 am
(21) Mark says:

Ha. The atheists aren’t winning this argument even though its one against many. Goes to show Austin that the vast majority of your readers are atheist fanboys. Congrats bro. U mad?

September 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm
(22) Austin Cline says:

Ha. The atheists aren’t winning this argument even though its one against many.

Yes, it is sad when religious believers refuse to pay attention to the facts set before them.

Goes to show Austin that the vast majority of your readers are atheist fanboys.

It does? How?

Congrats bro. U mad?

Why would I be mad at religious believers behaving exactly as they always behave?

October 3, 2010 at 4:13 am
(23) Barry says:

Since Steve has at the very least conceded that Christianity has indeed caused wars and bloodshed, just a lot less than other things (in his mind anyway), what good is it? Obviously Christianity is just as (or at least almost as) likely to fail at maintaining peace that any other philosophy, so why not abandon it as a failed experiment and look for something more effective? Actually, in case you haven’t noticed, there is one common cause in most of the conflicts discussed thus far: worship of something. Whether it’s worship of a magic invisible bearded man or a short syphilis-ridden crazy man, mindless worship of something seems to cause nothing but misery in the end. Luckily there is a frame of mind one can look towards in aiding oneself to avoid such stupidity: skepticism. In fact, that gives me an idea! You’re so passionate about trying to apply it (however unevenly and inaccurately) to us of the atheist hoard Steve, so why not try it against your own chosen religion? I’m sure that if it’s as truth-filled as you think it is that it will stand up to any possible scrutiny that you as a mere human can come up with, right?

December 20, 2010 at 7:25 am
(24) Luke O says:

The writer is correct about some things, the Pope, this Pope, and those before him, are wearing blinders. During the second world war, the Masons stood with the Jews, defended them, and were prosecuted, and killed along with them. But today, what is the one group that cannot be accepted in the Catholic Church? Masons…because they fought for the rights of non-Catholics. The Popes believe what they want to believe, and there is no convincing them of truth, it is a shame, that they can’t stand up and take responsibility for their mistakes. God can’t make a mistake, but the Pope can, his church can, and they need to admit it when they do. I would respect them much more. I can’t become Catholic, but, I still go to Mass.I love the Mass, but I think the Pope is fallible.

January 9, 2011 at 4:44 am
(25) sadasdd22 says:

God not being able to make mistakes is a falacy of man.

February 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm
(26) Alex says:

It doesn’t matter what the Pope or anyone says, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is Lord.

April 10, 2012 at 5:31 am
(27) Polybius says:

“The Nazis didnít just target Jews Ė Auschwitz killed Polish Catholics exclusively for the first 26 months of operation, before the first trainload of Jews ever arrived.”

Not true, don’t spew nonsense, they did target Poles, it did not matter to them if they were catholics or not.

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