March 2003 Newsletter

Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia

Newsletter- March 2003- Vol. IX, no . 3

Dear Friends,

May I once again remind you please do NOT press the REPLY button to this
message, but to communicate to me at my personal address given at the end
on p. 10 below.


1) Conference Report, Protestant Mentalities. Gottingen, February 2003
2) New Vatican documents unearthed
3) Book reviews

a) Goldhagen A Moral reckoning
b) Wood, Bishop John Taylor

4) Articles
5) Book notes

1) Conference Report, Göttingen, February 26-28th 2003.

At the invitation of Professor Hartmut Lehmann, Director of the Max Planck
Institute, and former Director of the German Historical Institute,
Washington, D.C., a useful three day conference was held in Göttingen at
the end of February on the topic of “Protestant Mentalities 1870-1970”.
All the sessions were plenary and were interspersed by coffee breaks and
communal meals in the building. So there was ample time for a full
exchange of views – a welcome change from so many similar meetings in North
America when the constraints of time and the pressures of alternative
sessions tend to limit the academic benefits. The predominantly male
participants were mainly younger historians from north German universities,
along with a few pastors, and, as foreign guests, Doris Bergen and Bob
Ericksen from the USA and myself from Canada.

The topic of Protestant Mentalities during the past century offered scope
for a wide range of explorations. We began with an analysis of two
seemingly contradictory, but in reality overlapping tendencies in German
Protestantism, namely the periods of euphoria (Frank Becker, Muenster) and
periods of traumatic shock (Frank-Michael Kuhlemann, Bielefeld). The
former could be seen in 1870, 1914, and 1933, when notable political events
produced strong reactions within the German Protestant churches. In 1870,
the defeat of France and Bismarck’s successful unification of the German
states were widely regarded as signs of God’s favour. The challenge from
Rome was finally settled and the Protestant destiny for northern and
central Europe secured. So too in 1914 the Protestant readiness to mobilize
support for the war effort gave a religious justification to what many
regarded as a Holy Crusade. And in 1933, the same kind of enthusiastic
support for Adolf Hitler’s new regime was widespread among all factions of
the German Evangelical Churches. In between, to be sure, there were
periods when a sense of trauma and crisis prevailed. Even before 1914, many
alert Protestants could not fail to be alarmed by the rapid growth of
sceptical humanism, which resulted in the defection of so many leading
intellectuals, as also by the failure of the church to hold the loyalty of
the urban working classes. After 1918, the catastrophic outcome of the
war disproved the clergy’s oft-repeated claims that God was on Germany’s
side. The result was a deep crisis of credibility. And the bitter
disillusionment of the second world war, and the subsequent political
division of the country, only led to an even greater sense of traumatic
loss among German Protestants. In one sense, the last fifty years have
been spent in the still unfinished task of coming to terms with these

Matthias Pöhlmann, Berlin, outlined the organized attempts by the German
Protestant Churches to offset these trends through its educational and
propaganda activities. They met with only limited success. Doris Bergen,
Notre Dame, Indiana, gave a thoughtful analysis of War Protestantism in
both 1914 and 1939, on the basis of her study of military chaplains. She
pointed out how much the need to promote support for the war effort
distorted the preaching of the Christian gospel. The idealistic hopes that
the war would unite the population and revive their commitment to the
church proved illusory, especially since neither church nor chaplains could
offer any adequate response to the challenges of mass death.
Lucian Hölscher, Bochum, widened the discussion to tackle the whole issue
of secularization. The lack of precision in the use of the this term is
unsatisfactory, but the phenomenon is undoubted. But to what extent can
secularization be seen as an irreversible process, or even a German
development? There was room here for plenty of wide-ranging but as yet
unsettled discussion. This was followed by a novel and interesting
contribution by Rolf Schieder, Berlin, on the impact on the churches in the
1920s and 1930s of the new medium of radio broadcasting. As in England,
the authorities resolved to keep control of this in their own hands in
order to prevent either commercial exploitation or political influence.
Their aim was not, to give the German people what they wanted, but rather
what they ought to have. They maintained a high moral tone and a high
cultural standard.

The churches soon realized the advantages of this kind of high-minded
broadcasting, though some Protestants were alarmed when they learnt that
Catholic “error” would be granted equal time. But in 1940 Goebbels
suspended all religious broadcasting for the duration of the war. As an
aside, Rolf Schieder noted that the Nazis soon discovered that Adolf
Hitler’s declamatory oratory did not transfer at all well to the radio, and
presumably would have been even less successful on television if that had
existed at the time.

We had a paper from Thomas Kaufmann, Göttingen, on the two eminent
Protestant families, the Harnacks and the Seebergs, which gave an
interesting account of their differing theological and political views.
Later Bob Ericksen, Tacoma, gave an outline of the career of Wilhelm
Niemöller, the younger brother of the more famous Martin. During the 1950s,
Wilhelm became the historian of the German Church Struggle, and used his
findings very deliberately, but in the end unsuccessfully, in an attempt to
mould the post-war course of the German Evangelical Church.
Various other examples of Protestant mentalities from early 20th century
history were commented on. Certainly, from a later perspective, we need
to take a critical view of the Protestant failures to combat Nazism, or to
fulfill the mission of Christian love to fellowmen, particularly the Jews.
Or even, as one paper told us, to women, who were still being denied the
right of ordination in the Lutheran church, still placed under the
supervision of male colleagues, or even obliged to resign their posts upon
marriage, for many years after 1945. Throughout the whole century, as this
conference succeeded in showing, conservatism and nationalism were the
uppermost political influences upon Protestant mentalities. Some of the
participants obviously approved; others like me were more dubious. But in
all, under Hartmut Lehmann’s genial chairmanship, we benefited from the
profitable discussions and enjoyed his generous hospitality.
2) As part of the continuing controversy over the Vatican’s policies during
World War II, some new documentation has been found in the archive of the
diocese of Campagna, in southern Italy. Two letters referring to the aid
given on the orders of Pope Pius XII to those suffering for reasons of race
are printed in a new biography Giovanni Palatucci -Il poliziotto che salvo
migliaia de ebrei, Rome: Laurus Robuffo publishers, 2002.
This tells the story of the Italian police official in the district
of Fiume, who used his position to rescue Jews interned under Mussolini’s
racial laws. To this end, he recruited the aid of his uncle, Guiseppe
Palatucci, the Bishop of Campagna, who turned to the Vatican to ask for
support in this cause. The two replies are here given in an English

1) Secretariat of State of His Holiness
From the Vatican 3 October 1940
Your reverend Excellency,

I have submitted to the august attention of the Holy Father the request
made in your letter # 935 of September 15th on behalf of those who have
been interned.

The August Pontiff deigned to consider your request, and has ordered me to
see to it that the sum of 3000 Lire be sent to Your Excellency, which I now
do with the attached cheque drawn on the Bank of Rome.

His Holiness, in deference to the intentions of the donors, has also
charged me to make you aware that this money should preferably be destined
for those who suffer for reasons of race, and to communicate the Apostolic
Benediction, which he imparts with his whole heart to Your Excellency and
to the flock entrusted to your charge.

I am happy to carry out these august orders. And let me take this
opportunity of expressing to you my sincere feelings of esteem.

Your Excellency’s servant,
Luigi Cardinal Maglione (signed by hand)
2) From the Vatican, 29th November 1940

With regard to your letter of November 8th, seeking a new sum to be
directed for the support of Jews interned in your diocese, I am pleased to
tell Your Excellency that the Holy Father has benevolently decided that you
should be granted the extra assistance you asked for.

In keeping with this revered instruction, I am sending the enclosed cheque
for 10,000 Lire, asking Your Excellency to be good enough to send to the
Secretariat of State, when convenient, an exact, even if brief, report on
how this money was used.

I am likewise happy to tell our Excellency that His Holiness has learned
with great pleasure about the energetic charitable activities you have
undertaken. He imparts his Apostolic Benediction to you, your entire
diocese and to all those whom you are assisting.

Yours very sincerely,
G.B.Montini (signed by hand)
[Montini was the assistant to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione and
later became Pope Paul VI]

Comment: There is a possibility, but no certainty, that the reference in
the first letter to the “wishes of the donors” and the specific intention
of assisting the victims of persecution because of their race, which in
this context can only mean Jews, refers to the sum of money received as a
personal gift by the Pope in December 1939 from the United Jewish Appeal in
Chicago. This amounted to $125,000 and was sent as a gift in memory of
Pope Pius XI. It was duly and fulsomely acknowledged with thanks by the
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Mgr Sheil. It is clear that the donors hoped
that the Vatican could use its influence through its local dioceses to
assist Jews in need, and also at the same time to arrange for entry visas
to Catholic countries in Latin America, so that these victims of
persecution could escape from Europe. A few days later, in January 1940,
the officials of the Secretariat of State suggested to Cardinal Maglione
that, in line with the donors’ wishes, these sums should be disbursed
without favour to both converted and non-converted Jews. Later in April,
it was reported that $50,000 had been retained in the United States for aid
there, while $30,000 had been assigned to the Raphael Society in Hamburg,
the main Catholic agency assisting emigrants to leave Germany. Some 20,000
Lire was sent to Cardinal Boetto in Genoa to help with emigration from that
port, while $10,000 was earmarked for the Archbishop of Utrecht for the
same purpose, and $3000 was to be sent to the Nuncio in Switzerland. The
balance could be used for immediate needs when requested. Mgr Montini
noted “The Holy Father has seen and approved this planned disposition.
(See Actes et document du Saint Siege relatifs a la seconde guerre
mondiale: Vol. 6: Le Saint Siege et les victimes de la guerre, Mars 1939 –
Decembre 1940, documents 125, 126 and 183.) Similarly, some months
later, when the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Innitzer, sent an urgent
appeal to the Vatican on behalf of the persecuted Jews whose fate was
becoming more dangerous, and calling for the provision of entry visas to
Brazil, the Secretariat of State replied with a gift of $2000, while
describing the minimal results of its efforts to get Brazil to open its
doors to “non-aryans”. (See Cardinal Innitzer to Pope Pius XII, 4 Feb.
1941, and Cardinal Maglione to Innitzer, 6 Feb. 1941, Actes et documents du
Saint Siege pendant la seconde guerre mondiale, Vol.8, documents 14 and 15.)
Together with the newly discovered letters from the diocese of Campagna,
this correspondence shows clearly enough that the Vatican was prepared to
assist Jews persecuted for reasons of race, though the sums available to
help were small, and their requests for entry visas for these refugees were
almost all turned down or scornfully spurned. It is not clear whether
the amounts sent were spent to help internees in the area of Bishop
Palatucci’s diocese, or whether he was forwarding these contributions to
help his nephew in Fiume, near Trieste. However, these measures do
something to refute the accusations made by Susan Zucotti in her recent
book on the fate of the Jews in Italy, and the alleged indifference of the
Vatican to their plight

New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2002. 363 pp. $38.00 US. 

(This review appeared earlier in the American Jewish Congress Monthly,
November/December 2002)

Daniel Goldhagen opens with the statement that “Christianity is a religion
of love”, and then spends the next 360 pages proving just the opposite.
Principally, he insists, Christian mistreatment of the Jewish people has
destroyed any credible claim that Christians live up to the precepts of the
founder of their faith, the Jew Jesus. Instead, for centuries, the
Christian Church has displayed bigotry and intolerance towards Jews,
chiefly sponsored by its largest and longest established branch, the Roman
Catholic Church, and by each succeeding generation of leaders in the Papacy
along with its attendant bureaucracy in the Vatican. This tradition of
hatred, decimation and persecution culminated in the shocking atrocity of
the Holocaust. The deep complicity of this Church, the willing
participation of many Catholics, and the silence of the then Pope, all
point to the present need for a moral reckoning. This is what Goldhagen
seeks to deliver.

In his earlier work, published some years ago, Goldhagen demonstrated his
capacity for sweeping and provocative generalizations. On that occasion he
attempted to attribute the dynamism of the Nazi campaign against the Jews
to the incidence of “eliminationist antisemitism”among all Germans, who
differed only in degree in the virulence of their hatred of Jews. He now
claims that this assessment was purely descriptive, and that in this new
book he wants to turn to the issue of culpability.

Antisemitism led to the Holocaust. Antisemitism has been integral to the
Catholic Church. The connection has to be stressed, all the more since the
Catholic Church was established in all of the countries where the Holocaust
took place. In none of them did its leaders seek to mobilize effective
resistance to the Germans’ atrocities. Consequently, Goldhagen avers, the
Catholic Church must bear much blame. Its record cannot be excused as that
of a complicit bystander. Rather Catholicism was a deliberate and
long-standing instigator of Jew-hatred. Its culpability is therefore far
more extensive than has hitherto been admitted.

This sweeping contention is supported by no new research. Instead
Goldhagen makes use of highly selective quotations from other authors, most
of whom adopt the same pejorative viewpoints about the Catholic Church’s
record. Admittedly he attempts to cover his tracks in his Introduction. He
accepts the existence of Catholics who were not antisemites or whose
antisemitism was mild, and even some who saved Jews from death. But this
does not prevent him from subsequent wholesale condemnations of the Church,
of its doctrinal teachings, and of its leading personalities from
successive Popes downwards. His most venomous attacks, of course, are
made on the reigning Pope during the Holocaust, Pius XII, who is here
depicted as being all in favour of the Nazis’ eliminationist campaign. So
too the attitudes and policies of the Catholic leaders throughout Europe
are predictably excoriated. The German Catholic bishops protested against
the Nazis’ so-called “euthanasia” programme, but not against “the Final
Solution”. The President of Slovakia was a priest who handed over
thousands of Jews to the Germans. Most of them were promptly murdered. In
Croatia, the most fanatical antisemites were members of the Franciscan
order. And so on. Even when the Vatican intervened, this was due,
Goldhagen claims, more to the Church’s selfish political interest rather
than to compassion for the soon-to-be slaughtered Jews. In short he seeks
to prove that the Church’s widespread complicity in the mass murders of
Jews throughout Europe was due to its inherent and age-long antisemitism.
Goldhagen is not an historian, nor a sociologist, still less a theologian.
In fact he is a moralist. Having established his own idiosyncratic
standards of righteousness, he can easily enough criticize all those who do
not adhere to these archetypes. Moreover he assumes that such criteria
must be universally accepted. He shows little understanding of how
religious communities, like political organizations, develop so-called
“circles of obligation” primarily to their own members. Apathy,
disinterest, even intolerance characterize their attitudes towards
outsiders. The legacy of theological anti-Judaism amongst Catholics only
reinforced this stance. In Goldhagen’s view, the Church’s failure to stand
by the persecuted Jews was entirely a matter of moral will. Popes, bishops,
priests and laity could all have abandoned their antisemitic traditions,
and should have done so. They now stand condemned.

Paradoxically, however, Goldhagen has not entirely written off the
institution of the Catholic Church. At the end of the book, he changes his
tune to affirm that “the Catholic Church and its moral creed is, at its
core, good and admirable”. All it needs to do is to purify itself of its
antisemitic past, and to make suitable restitution to the Jewish people.
The last part of the book outlines some of the fanciful ways in which this
work of reparation could be undertaken.

It is difficult to see just for whom this work is intended. The small
handful of Catholic reformers pursuing their wishful thinking is clearly a
limited audience. More likely he seeks to appeal to the considerable
section of the Jewish community who are still searching for a single or
simplistic explanation of the disaster of the Holocaust, and are reluctant
to accept the ambiguities and complexities of the historical record.
Making a scapegoat of the Catholic Church was therefore welcome. But many
readers are likely to be sceptical of his final call for the Church to make
a full moral restitution. They may not share his optimism about such a
programme. But, Goldhagen argues, just as the Germans and their
governments since 1945 have purged themselves of their eliminationist
antisemitism by a deliberate mustering of the will, so the Catholic Church
could and should now follow suit.

This is indeed the moralist’s solution. But his suggestions for church
reform are too extraordinary to be adopted. And by denigrating the steps
already taken by the Vatican and other church bodies over the past thirty
years as too little and too late, he belittles the whole process of
Jewish-Christian reconciliation. Using the Holocaust as a moral cudgel to
beat Catholics over the head is hardly likely to bring about the goal
Goldhagen supposedly seeks. In fact, his extreme stance may possibly lead
to a revival of the antisemitism which he so rightly and energetically

b) David Wood, Poet, Priest and Prophet – Bishop John V. Taylor, London:
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, 2002, ISBN 0-85169-272-9, £ 14.95,
with a Foreword by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales.

(This review appeared first in CONNECTIONS, a Review of the UK Churches’
Commission on Mission)

Among British Christians in the 20th century, John Vernon Taylor, who died
in January 2001, was undoubtedly one of the great saints and thinkers. For
me it was a high privilege to have had a fair amount to do with him,
professionally – and inevitably, through that, personally – over some 40
years, from an early reading of his 1957 Penguin Christianity and Politics
in Africa, through several inspiring encounters with him as Africa and then
General Secretary of the CMS, learning much from, and greatly enjoying his
successive books, as well as in significant episodes at major conferences of
the WCC, in welcoming him into an Honorary Fellowship at the Selly Oak
Colleges, and above all in Oxford these last 5 years, sharing as a neighbour
alike in the service to celebrate 60 years of married love with Peggy and,
too soon after, in the funeral service to which John in no little pain had
devoted his unique combination of inter-human sensitivity, God-directed
faith and winsome poetry – ‘every word’, said Peggy, ‘except those of the
preacher, written by John’.

This large, rich and reasonably priced study of John Taylor’s living,
believing, serving and exploring deserves many readers among those who have
known him, and still more among those who may have heard no more than a
phrase – ‘the go-between God’, most likely, or perhaps ‘enough is enough’ –
or of his inspiring leadership as Bishop of Winchester from 1974-85. It is
a generous treasure house. For me, above all for the poems, virtually none
of which I had come across before, not least the two – of some six or seven
he had been struggling to perfect in his last few days of earthly life –
first read aloud at his memorial service in Winchester Cathedral (p.182).
Hardly less for the amazingly profound feast of theological insight and
pilgrimage in which the Australian author passionately accompanies John
through the major stages and discoveries of his life.

The first chapter takes us immediately into the debate about the nature of
mission between such giants as Hendrik Kraemer, Max Warren, Lesslie Newbigin
and David Bosch, with the subsequently oft recurring struggle to find the
appropriate way for Christians to relate in friendship and respect with
people of other faith communities. So also the last, 40 page long chapter
is a sustained exploration into how John’s writings from his first book to
his last, including his three great ‘classics’ The Primal Vision – Christian
Presence amid African Religion (1963), The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit
and the Christian Mission (1972), and The Christlike God (1992), all centre
on how the nature, purposes and characteristic behaviour of the
ever-mysterious God are factually, historically revealed and to be known and
followed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, recognised as the Christ.
The chapters in between include other substantial theological explorations,
whether in the account of what Bonhoeffer’s writings meant to John in the
bleak months after his wholly unplanned and unwelcome return from Africa to
Britain in the mid-1950s (p.51ff.), his moving exposition of the shapes and
meanings of the Chapel of the Living Water in the new offices the CMS staff
moved into in 1966 (p.98ff.), or the theme of humble and serving presence as
the key, characteristic mark of true Christlike mission (p.127f., 212f.).

As an ‘intellectual biography’, a term Wood more or less borrows from
Kenneth Cragg (see p.12ff.), in which the author himself is exploring no
less excitedly and devotedly than his teacher, the book includes sensitive
accounts of the disappointments and difficulties involved in the return from
Africa, as of several unusual features of John’s way of being a diocesan
bishop, some of them rather less than ‘successful’ (p.151ff.) and of his
long, deeply rewarding relationship with Max Warren, his mentor from
Cambridge student days onward and predecessor as CMS General Secretary.
At the same time I cannot but remark on several important – and at least to
me dismaying – gaps in the record. One is that of some of the exact dates:
neither that of the beginning of his time at Mukono, Uganda (while the
Second World War was still raging), nor that of his sad departure from there
is chronicled; a small gap perhaps yet which adds an unnecessary impression
of vagueness quite unlike John or Peggy ! More acute is that of any account
of his later work in and for Africa; we learn not a little of the theology
set out in The Primal Vision, but no more than a brief factual mention of
the months spent in research for his two big books: The Growth of the Church
in Buganda (1958) and Christians of the Copperbelt (1961). Still more
worrying is the absence of African names: neither the Index, nor the
Bibliography, nor the long list of people whose help is acknowledged by the
author include names of African Christians and writers who John must have
known and appreciated – not even that of John Mbiti. I suspect that in the
long run this book will be known as the ‘white, Anglo-Saxon’ view of John
Taylor !

Again, as one who knew something, if by no means all, of his profoundly
important contributions over many years to the life and work of the World
Council of Churches, it is surprising, to put it mildly, that none of these
are carefully described. A few lines on p.69/70, seriously inaccurate as
well as wholly inadequate, mention the project ‘World Studies of Churches in
Mission’ to which John contributed enormously, alike at its outset in 1954
by writing a long and impressive memo outlining what was to become a major,
innovative and still echoing set of studies, and at its ‘completion’ as a
member of the 5-person team struggling in 1968/9 towards their revolutionary
conclusions that have been far too widely ignored. These centre on what God
can have meant by the virtually ungraspable diversity of the ‘results’ of
mission in the 15 different situations studied, in which John’s by then
strong faith in the never-fully-graspable purposes of the God who is known
in Jesus is all too recognisable in the team’s intriguing report Can
Churches Be Compared ? His vital, reconciling role at the WCC’s tumultuous
Uppsala Assembly of 1968 is briefly summarised from John’s own published
account (p.108), yet without adequate attention to the virulence of the
disagreements in the background, let alone to the subsequent history of
those disputes, while his magisterial, thoroughly down to earth and
profoundly challenging paper to the Melbourne World Mission Conference of
1980 on the relation of Church to Kingdom in God’s purposes is no more than
a line in the list of his writings (pp.254-6).

So while I look forward to a later volume that can bring out these other
dimensions of the life and witness of a significant twentieth century
church leader, there is plenty for us all to be learning from this one.
Martin Conway, Oxford

4) Articles a) ed B.Kosmala, and C Schoppmann, Uberleben im Untergrund.
(Solidarität und Hilfe für Juden während der NS-Zeit, Bd 5) Berlin:
Metropol Verlag 2002.

Two articles in this collection of essays describing how some Jews were
able to survive in hiding during the period 1941-1945 will be of interest
to our readers.

Ursula Büttner, who teaches history at Hamburg University contributes a
chapter on “Die andere Christen”, which pays tribute to those Christians,
both Catholic and Protestant, as well as some from the smaller sects, who
risked their own lives to give shelter and protection to Jews in need.
Angela Borgstedt, of the University of Karlsruhe, describes the rescue
efforts in south-west Germany, as organized by a valiant group of pastors
in the Confessing Church, and by Gertrud Luckner from her base in Freiburg
until her arrest in March 1943.

b) Peter Gemeinhardt, Krisis der Gechichte – Krisis der
Kirchengeschichtschreibung. Kirchengeschichte nach dem ersten Weltkrieg auf
der Suche nach ihrem Grund und Gegenstand in Zeitschrift für
Kirchengeschichte, Vol 113, no. 2, 2002, 210-236.

A very useful description of the various kinds of church history being
written in the aftermath of the defeat of 1918. Gemeinhardt concentrates on
three major church historians: the traditionalists, such as Harnack; the
theologians, such as Karl Barth; and the nationalists, such as Karl Holl,
the leader of the Luther renaissance. This analysis of the strengths and
weaknesses of each approach shows that the divisions within the ranks of
the scholarly community reflected the dissonance in the wider community,
and the impact of the war on the credibility of the whole profession.
c) Kevin Spicer, Fr A.Heuberger: Misshapen agent of God in the Third Reich,
New England Journal of History, Vol. 59, no.1, Fall 2002. This article
examines the career of a pro-Nazi Catholic priest, one of about 150 in all,
and analyses his motives. In most of these cases a desire to enhance their
self-importance, and quarrels with their ecclesiastical superiors led to
their pronounced political views. But they gained little support from the
Nazi Party authorities, and were sidelined by their own bishops. After
the war they were often able to have their past extremism overlooked.

4) Book notes:

A revised and expanded second edition of the Dictionary of the Ecumenical
Movement has recently been published by the World Council of Churches
Publications, Geneva. This is an essential reference work for all
interested in the growth and development of the ecumenical movement during
the last century.

At the moment this is only available in English, but other language
editions are in process.

With very best wishes,
John Conway