Mit Brennender Sorge: With Burning Passion

Yesterday, I posted two quotes from an encyclical, but did not state when or for whom they were written. The quotes could easily have been written in recent months given the American climate, which has undeniably become more hostile to Christians who still practice the revealed Faith of Jesus Christ.

The quotes were not written recently. They were written 78 years ago by Pope Pius XI to the German people on Passion Sunday in regards to the Third Reich. It is a bit of a read, but it is very well worth it. I am not equating the Democratic Party to the Third Reich, but the similarities of the experiences of modern American Christians and the experience of German Christians in 1937 are eerily similar. Please take the time to read through this letter. It is only by being aware of history that we can prevent history from repeating itself. And as you read the letter, be encouraged, because the letter is very encouraging in my opinion.

(English: With Burning Passion)

Pope Pius XI Encyclical on the Church and the German Reich
March 14, 1937

To the Venerable Brethren the Archbishops and Bishops of Germany and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Greetings, and Apostolic Blessing.

It is with deep anxiety and growing surprise that We have long been following the painful trials of the Church and the increasing vexations which afflict those who have remained loyal in heart and action in the midst of a people that once received from St. Boniface the bright message and the Gospel of Christ and God’s Kingdom.

2. And what the representatives of the venerable episcopate, who visited Us in Our sick room, had to tell Us, in truth and duty bound, has not modified Our feelings. To consoling and edifying information on the stand the Faithful are making for their Faith, they considered themselves bound, in spite of efforts to judge with moderation and in spite of their own patriotic love, to add reports of things hard and unpleasant. After hearing their account, We could, in grateful acknowledgment to God, exclaim with the Apostle of love: “I have no greater grace than this, to hear that my children walk in truth” (John iii. 4). But the frankness indifferent in Our Apostolic charge and the determination to place before the Christian world the truth in all its reality, prompt Us to add: “Our pastoral heart knows no deeper pain, no disappointment more bitter, than to learn that many are straying from the path of truth.”

3. When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years’ standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church’s beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ’s interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it.

4. If, then, the tree of peace, which we planted on German soil with the purest intention, has not brought forth the fruit, which in the interest of your people, We had fondly hoped, no one in the world who has eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to lay the blame on the Church and on her Head. The experiences of these last years have fixed responsibilities and laid bare intrigues, which from the outset only aimed at a war of extermination. In the furrows, where We tried to sow the seed of a sincere peace, other men — the “enemy” of Holy Scripture — oversowed the cockle of distrust, unrest, hatred, defamation, of a determined hostility overt or veiled, fed from many sources and wielding many tools, against Christ and His Church. They, and they alone with their accomplices, silent or vociferous, are today responsible, should the storm of religious war, instead of the rainbow of peace, blacken the German skies.

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3 thoughts on “Mit Brennender Sorge: With Burning Passion

  1. Your blogpost troubles me…. I do not believe the struggles between conservatives and progressives in America today, can be compared to the battle of good and evil during the Second World War. Yes, some Christian values are challenged in the Western world. Others are asserted by unlikely allies. Alas, the world is not simple and neither are our moral choices… But mit brennender sorge ( sorge means worry, not passion….) is useful only to an extent to the challenges our world faces today…In love and peace, Linda

    • I guess I did not mean to imply that what we are facing today is the same battles against the insane evils of World War II. But in my limited understanding of Weimar/early 3rd Reich history, the evils were a progression that weren’t close to being fully realized by 1937, the year this was written. Sure, there were race issues, as they are mentioned in this text, but that the Final Solution wasn’t formulated until 1941 or 1942. So I see this letter in a more generic stance in which Catholics specifically (as the recipients of this letter, not to imply it was only Catholics) were targeted because there beliefs did not agree with the State’s, that they were losing the right to live according to their Faith (much like today: bakers, florists, and photographers for instance, and the rights of Catholics to not dispense birth control under Obamacare), that school choice for their children was being limited (in some places in America there is great prejudice against Catholic/Christian schools, and pressure for Catholic schools to abandon their principles: think San Francisco), and that legal and social pressure was used to make things economically difficult for those who refused to bow to the morality of the state (very clearly in play today when we look at the events surrounding religious freedom in Indiana).

      That is all I meant to point out with this really. An opportunity to look at where we could end up if we don’t wake up to realize that what we are doing has been done before and did not end up very well.

  2. I understand that, I’m not offended in any way. I can see you mean well. But I find the whole moral spectrum muddled. Sometimes I find self-righteous catholics on the opposite of where Jesus appears to me. Then I meet people who choose to find fault in Christianity deliberately, but do great deeds.
    I believe in the western world, faith should be free. Yet it should not be a tool to denounce others. How to find this middle ground? I wish you a blessed Good Friday, Silent Saturday and Easter. By the way, this countryman has always had a claim to my affection a great imperfect uncomprising Christian yet his Christianity stood up for all

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