Posts Tagged ‘Pius XI’

Podcast of 2/10/15 Lecture and Discussion of Pius XI’s Great Encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno: On Reconstruction of the Social Order

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Here is posted the podcast of the just-completed edit of the 2/10/15 talk entitled, Pius XI & Quadragesimo Anno: On Reconstruction of the Social Order, which was presented as part of the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center in Chicago.

© Copyright 2015, 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Free Talk: Pius XI & Quadragesimo Anno: On Reconstruction of the Social Order

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

I’ll be presenting a free talk entitled “Pius XI & Quadragesimo Anno: On Reconstruction of the Social Order,” for the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Newman Center at 6PM Tuesday, February 10, 2015, after evening Mass at the St. John Paul II Newman Center Library, 700 S. Morgan St. Chicago,, 312-226-1880. Here’s the announcement in PDF format.

Here’s a png version —

A podcast of the completed talk will be posted here. Here’s the link for Quadragesimo Anno, the great 1931 encyclical of Pius XI.

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Dietrich von Hildebrand’s 1930s Anti-Nazi Essays

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The 20th century philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), best known in the English-speaking world for his writings on human intimacy and personality, aesthetics, ethics, and the liturgy, was also an active and determined opponent of the National Socialist or Nazi movement from its early days in the 1920s.

When Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, von Hildebrand, who had a decade earlier been condemned to death by the first Nazi thugs, left the country, and eventually settled in Vienna, where he led, through his journal Der Christliche Ständestaat (the Christian Corporative State, a concept that drew its inspiration from Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno) and his partnership the soon-to-be-assassinated Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, an intellectual resistance to Nazism and especially to anti-Semitism, until von Hildebrand was again forced to flee Austria as Hitler’s Anschluss absorbed that country in 1938.

The recent publication in English of selections from von Hildebrand’s handwritten memoir as My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich has brought von Hildebrand again into the intellectual and cultural mainstream.

While reviews of My Battle Against Hitler have focused on von Hildebrand’s adventurous fight with and narrow escapes from Nazism, I urge readers to study his 1930s essays collected as a group in this memoir. While it is fun to learn how von Hildebrand and his friends tricked the Nazis into allowing his furniture to be shipped from Munich to Vienna after his flight from Germany, and sobering to read how many were taken in by the Nazis, it is better to read the focused, insightful, and passionate words of von Hildebrand written at the time against the steady advance of anti-Semitism and Nazism.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), once the teenage student paramour of philosopher and later sometime Nazi Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), achieved fame in 1963 with her coining of the phrase “banality of evil” in her Eichmann in Jerusalem. Yet von Hildebrand’s November 10, 1935 Der Christliche Ständestaat essay, translated as “The Danger of Becoming Morally Blunted,” contemporaneously described this blunting process as it was happening decades before Arendt. This essay alone is worth the price of My Battle Against Hitler, since it describes how moral compromise can weaken us all. The power of anti-Semitism as a moral anesthetic that deadens resistance to violent extremism is very much still at work today, whether in the Middle East, in Russia, or in First World cultural elites.

My compliments to John Henry Crosby, Alice von Hildebrand, John F. Crosby, and all those from the Hildebrand Project who spent the decade necessary to bring this book to English-language readers.

I understand that the Hildebrand Project intends to eventually post all the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand online. I especially look forward to more Der Christliche Ständestaat essays, and especially to an English translation of his Metaphysik der Gemeinschaft: Untersuchungen über Wesen und Wert der Gemeinschaft, or The Metaphysics of Community.

The Hildebrand Project is worthy of our support!

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Catholicism and Socialism

Friday, January 31st, 2014

While preparing my notes for the course The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, I again came across the lines from Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno:

119. . . . Society, therefore, as Socialism conceives it, can on the one hand neither exist nor be thought of without an obviously excessive use of force; on the other hand, it fosters a liberty no less false, since there is no place in it for true social authority, which rests not on temporal and material advantages but descends from God alone, the Creator and last end of all things.

120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.

Quadragesimo Anno, 119-120, accessed 1/31/14

Such a strong papal statement from Pius XI in 1931 reminds us Catholics that while we may be participants in political life, we remain in a certain sense outsiders. This is not easy!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Seventy-Five Years Since Cardinal Mundelein’s “Paperhanger” Speech

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

May 18, 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most memorable addresses by a clergyman in American history, the so-called “Paperhanger” speech of Cardinal George Mundelein (1872-1939), Archbishop of Chicago, during which Mundelein on May 18, 1937 in Quigley Seminary chapel called Hitler “an Austrian paperhanger, and a poor one at that.” Many American GIs and citizens referred to Hitler as a “paperhanger” during World War II as a result.

Several years ago, I composed an entry on the Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary Wikipedia page describing the significance of this speech, and the virulent reaction that followed from the Nazis in Germany, in which hundreds of German Catholic newspapers were closed.

Mundelein spoke out against the persecution of Catholics in Germany, and against the show trials of Catholic religious on trumped-up sexual immorality charges (sound familiar?), that Mundelein stated were designed to seize control of German Catholic schools, which at the time educated two million children. Mundelein said:

The fight is to take the children away from us. If we show no interest in this matter now, if we shrug our shoulders and mutter, ‘Maybe there is some truth in it, or maybe it is not our fight;’ if we don’t back up our Holy Father (Pope Pius XI) when we have a chance, well when our turn comes we, too, will be fighting alone. . . . Perhaps you will ask how it is that a nation of sixty million people, intelligent people, will submit in fear to an alien, an Austrian paperhanger, and a poor one at that I am told, and a few associates like Goebbels and Göring who dictate every move of the people’s lives.. (“Mundelein rips into Hitler for Church attacks,” Chicago Tribune, 5/19/1937, pg. 7)

Please refer to the Quigley Seminary Wikipedia Page for more details on the aftermath in Germany and America to Mundelein’s address.

While Mundelein’s speech put German Catholics at risk in Germany, it helped German Americans to break away from Hitler and to develop a distinct identity as Americans putting the public cloud for German national acts during World War I behind them.

Mundelein was unsparing in his remarks, and noted that the Nazis held power by “making every second person a spy,” “destroying civil liberties,” and by “forcing candidates for the religious life into work and military camps.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mundelein said:

“During and after the World War [I] the German government complained bitterly of the propaganda aimed at it by the Allies concerning atrocities perpetuated by German troops . . . Now the present German government is making use of this same kind of propaganda against the Catholic Church and is giving out through its crooked minister of propaganda [Joseph Goebbels] stories of wholesale immorality in religious institutions in comparison to which the wartime propaganda is almost like bedtime stories for children.”

Mundelein’s 5/18/37 speech followed by a few weeks the 3/14/37 encyclical of Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, which attacked the racist Nazi ideology, and which was being rabidly suppressed at the time of Mundelein’s address. According to the Chicago Tribune on 5/22/37, the Nazi secret police were then on high alert in response to the distribution of 20 million copies of the encyclical, leading to seizure of eighteen German Catholic printing plants and to daily Nazi accusations of sexual scandal against the Church. Catholic priests were being attacked in the streets by even children, according to the Tribune, if they appeared in some quarters in clerical garb.

Mundelein’s “Paperhanger” speech was part of a concerted effort by the Catholic Church to defend religious freedom and human rights at the height of an anti-Catholic propaganda war by the Nazis, more than a year in advance of the Kristallnacht attack on German Jews.

I wonder if today’s Commonweal Magazine and America Magazine editors were around in 1937 whether they wouldn’t criticize Mundelein for meddling in politics or for being too “partisan.”

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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