Von Galen Contra Gestapo

Sunday, March 13, AD 2011



In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine the first of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  In the summer of 1941 the Third Reich was at its zenith.  Operation Barbarossa had been launched, and the Soviets were reeling, with German armies advancing rapidly against a Red Army which appeared to be on the verge of dissolution.  In North Africa, the Desert Fox was besieging Tobruk and it seemed only a matter of time until Egypt might fall to him.  American still slumbered in an isolationist dream.  World domination by Nazi Germany seemed to be approaching reality.

At this point, when his Nazi foes were their strongest, on July 13, 1941, Bishop von Galen threw down his episcopal gauntlet to the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazis, who brutally terrorized Germany and occupied Europe:


My dear Catholics of St. Lambert’s:

 I have longed to read personally from the pulpit of this church today my pastoral letter on the events of the past week and in particular to express to you, my former parishioners, my deep-felt sympathy. In some part of the city, the devastation and loss have been particularly great. I hope that by the action of the municipal and government authorities responsible, and above all by your brotherly love and the collections taken today for the work of the Caritas Union and the Parish Caritas, some of the hardship and suffering will be relieved. I had in mind also, however, to add a brief word on the meaning of the divine visitation: how God thus seeks us in order to lead us home to Him. God wants to lead Münster home to Him.  How much at home were our forefathers with God and in God’s Holy Church! How thoroughly were their lives — their public life, their family life, and even their commercial life — supported by faith in God, directed by the holy fear of God and by the love of God! Has it always been like that in our own day? God wants to lead Münster home to Him!

Von Galen here is speaking about the devastation caused by British bombing raids.  Note his comments about the practical steps necessary to help the victims through special collections, and the overriding necessity of turning to God.

Concerning this I had meant to put some further reflections before you. But this I cannot do today, for I find myself compelled to openly and in public speak of something else — a shattering event which came upon us yesterday, at the end of this week of calamity.

What could be more important than the damage wreaked upon us by the enemy bombers I am certain was the thought that first occurred to many of von Galen’s listeners. 

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6 Responses to Von Galen Contra Gestapo

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  • Wow Don. That is fantastic. Amazing how this sermon could be preached today . . . in America. Given that the corporate media is overwhelmingly leftist; that the very word ‘justice’ is bandied about to give cover to state plunder and personal plunder through the state apparatus; that the laws (PPACA, PATRIOT Act, TARP) and legal decisions (Roe v. Wade, Kelo v. New London) passed do not conform with the law of the land (The Constitution); that our government does not refer to Moslem jihadits as ‘terrorists’ but pro-lifers, Ron Paul supporters, Gadsden flag wavers, End the Fed proponents are labeled as terrorists. Is it a wonder that von Galen’s sermon could be preached here today?

    The relativist materialist minority is vocal and powerful and dangerous. As always they will demonize the ‘right’, in truth they are targeting the usual target of the pawns of the Devil: Those who are bigoted because they do not approve of the behavior of Sodomites, those who engage in hate-speech by promoting chastity and traditional marriage, those misogynists who think that women should be supported, respected and encouraged to be authentically feminine and fecund, those who refer to Truth as if there is only one truth and expect people to believe that truth is objective and not the construct of academics and government diktat. You know to whom I am referring – its those pesky Catholics, and not your run of the mill, casual Christmas and Easter Mass, contracepting, pro-abort catholics; but those darn orthodox traditionalists and conservatives who claim the Church has taught and worshiped the same for 2,000 years. They even claim that their Church is the only One founded by Jesus Christ! The audacity.

    I would love to see this fine son of the Church confront socialists like Obama and so-called Catholics like Biden, Pelosi and Sibellius. It would be wonderful to see him make them tremble.

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  • Its amazing, to read these articles and understand their meaning! Its like reading a battle plan. The offensives and defenses in the minds of church leaders vs. extreme secular goals for humans.

    But who are the foot soldiers? I am one of them. Positioned against the extreme secular front battle line. But, where is the battle plan (so to speak) that I / we can follow?

    Millions of us dont’t know what you are saying. Or is there not enough of words in the plebian dictionary to allow you to do this.

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The Scarlet and The Black

Thursday, August 13, AD 2009

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

Here, at 8:39, in my opinion, is one of the more profound observations on film about the Catholic Church and History.  The evil that men do make many a blood stained page of History, but the Church survives throughout History as Caesars, Emperors, Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Commissars, Fuhrers, Caudillos, Duces, General Secretaries, would be fake messiahs, etc, pass away.

The Scarlet and the Black (1983) is one of the better films dealing with the Catholic Church.  Gregory Peck is brilliant as Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican, who during World War 2, hid 4000 escaped Allied POWs and Jews from the Nazi occupiers of Rome.  Christopher Plummer gives the performance of his career as Obersturmbanfuhrer (Colonel) Herbert Kappler, the head of the Gestapo in Rome.  John Gielgud gives a stunningly good performance as Pius XII.  At one point when he confronts a Nazi delegation he merely stares at them with steely disdain until they get the hint and leave.  I imagine the actual Pius XII used a similar look of disdain when, on March 11, 1940, his response to a complaint by the Nazi  Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop that the Church was siding with the Allies, was to read to Von Ribbentrop a long list of atrocities committed by the Nazis in Poland, which had been compiled by the Church.  This is a superb film that should be seen by every Catholic.

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7 Responses to The Scarlet and The Black

  • Didn’t know about this one. I’ll have to check it out. thanks for the heads up.

  • I was introduced to this film when I was in Rome in the late 1990s by a dynamic young priest working in the Roman Curia.

    He’s since been elevated to the dignity of the episcopate, and I continue to watch this film about once a year.

    I’ve never been able to discover what happened to Kappler’s wife and children, but the post-script in the movie implies they never visited him while he was imprisoned.

  • One of my favorites!

  • This post reminded me of ne of the finest tributes to the Church’s endurance while secular powers vanish into the dust. It was written as part of the rumination of an atheist character in “The Sunrise Lands”, a sci-fi book about the death of electricity, gunpowder and the internal combustion engine. Alas, it’s not at my fingertips, but I’ll post it later. It even included a mocking swipe at Stalin’s “How many divisions does the Pope have?”

  • One of the best films out there concerning the Church.

    Very heartwarming.

  • Here it is:

    Stalin had meant mockery when he asked how many divisions the Pope had, but in the end his bewildered successors had found it didn’t matter; and men-at-arms and castles could come into the same category. At seventh and last men were ruled from within their heads by ideas as much as by clubs from without, and a careful ruler kept it in mind.

    The Church had outlasted any number of systems that looked stronger than iron at the time, and had ridden out many storms that claimed to be the wave of the future; she was wise with years, and infinitely patient, and bided her time.