Running a church takes more than faith, and even the holiest of institutions can fall victim to harsh realities. Enter the "Church Hoppers" — three business-savvy ministers who travel the country helping faith-based organizations reestablish themselves in the marketplace so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers. They use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Church Rescue - Catholic Church and Nazi Germany during World War II - Netflix
Several Catholic countries and populations fell under Nazi domination during the period of the Second World War (1939–1945), and ordinary Catholics fought on both sides of the conflict. Despite efforts to protect its rights within Germany under a 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty, the Church in Germany had faced persecution in the years since Adolf Hitler had seized power, and Pope Pius XI accused the Nazi government of sowing 'fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church'. Pius XII became Pope on the eve of war and lobbied world leaders to prevent the outbreak of conflict. His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, called the invasion of Poland an “hour of darkness”. He affirmed the policy of Vatican neutrality, but maintained links to the German Resistance. Despite being the only world leader to publicly and specifically denounce Nazi crimes against Jews in his 1942 Christmas Address, controversy surrounding his apparent reluctance to speak frequently and in even more explicit terms about Nazi crimes continues. He used diplomacy to aid war victims, lobbied for peace, shared intelligence with the Allies, and employed Vatican Radio and other media to speak out against atrocities like race murders. In Mystici corporis Christi (1943) he denounced the murder of the handicapped. A denunciation from German bishops of the murder of the “innocent and defenceless”, including “people of a foreign race or descent”, followed. Hitler's invasion of Catholic Poland sparked the War. Nazi policy towards the Church was at its most severe in the areas it annexed to the Reich, such as the Czech and Slovene lands, Austria and Poland. In Polish territories it annexed to Greater Germany, the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Church - arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered. Over 1800 Catholic Polish clergy died in concentration camps; most notably, Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Nazi security chief Reinhard Heydrich soon orchestrated an intensification of restrictions on church activities in Germany. Hitler and his ideologues Goebbels, Himmler, Rosenberg and Bormann hoped to de-Christianize Germany in the long term. With the expansion of the war in the East, expropriation of monasteries, convents and church properties surged from 1941. Clergy were persecuted and sent to concentration camps, religious Orders had their properties seized, some youth were sterilized. The first priest to die was Aloysius Zuzek. Bishop August von Galen's ensuing 1941 denunciation of Nazi euthanasia and defence of human rights roused rare popular dissent. The German bishops denounced Nazi policy towards the church in pastoral letters, calling it “unjust oppression”. From 1940, the Nazis gathered priest-dissidents in dedicated clergy barracks at Dachau, where (95%) of its 2,720 inmates were Catholic (mostly Poles, and 411 Germans), 1034 died there. Mary Fulbrook wrote that when politics encroached on the church, German Catholics were prepared to resist, but the record was otherwise patchy and uneven with notable exceptions, “it seems that, for many Germans, adherence to the Christian faith proved compatible with at least passive acquiescence in, if not active support for, the Nazi dictatorship”. Influential members of the German Resistance included Jesuits of the Kreisau Circle and laymen such as July plotters Klaus von Stauffenberg, Jakob Kaiser and Bernhard Letterhaus, whose faith inspired resistance. Elsewhere, vigorous resistance from bishops such as Johannes de Jong and Jules-Géraud Saliège, papal diplomats such as Angelo Rotta, and nuns such as Margit Slachta, can be contrasted with the apathy of others and the outright collaboration of Catholic politicians such as Slovakia's Msgr Jozef Tiso and fanatical Croat nationalists. From within the Vatican, Msgr Hugh O'Flaherty coordinated the rescue of thousands of Allied POWs, and civilians, including Jews. While Nazi antisemitism embraced modern pseudo-scientific racial principles rejected by the Catholic Church, ancient antipathies between Christianity and Judaism contributed to European antisemitism; during the Second World War the Catholic Church rescued many thousands of Jews by issuing false documents, lobbying Axis officials, hiding them in monasteries, convents, schools and elsewhere; including the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo.
Church Rescue - German Catholics and the Holocaust - Netflix
When deportations for the Final Solution commenced, at his Cathedral in Berlin, Fr. Bernhard Lichtenberg offered public prayer and sermonised against the deportations of Jews to the East. He was denounced, and later died en route to Dachau. Nazi ideology saw Jewishness as a “racial question”. Among the deported “Jews” of Germany were practicing Catholics. Martin Gilbert notes that at Christmas 1941, with deportations underway, the Polish Lodz Ghetto for “Jews”, held Christian services, with the Catholic service conducted by Sister Maria Regina Fuhrmann, a theologian from Vienna. Two newly arrived Catholic priests of “Jewish origin” were among the deportees in attendance. Saint Edith Stein is among the most famous German Jewish-Catholics sent to the death camps by the Nazis. Faulhaber 1933 Cardinal Faulhaber gained an early reputation as an opponent of the regime denouncing the Nazi extremists who were calling for the Bible to be purged of the “Jewish” Old Testament, because, wrote Hamerow, in seeking to adhere to the central anti-Semitic tenets of Nazism, these “anti-Semitic zealots” were also undermining “the basis of Catholicism.” Faulhaber delivered three important Advent sermons in 1933. Entitled Judaism, Christianity, and Germany, the sermons affirmed the Jewish origins of the Christian religion, the continuity of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and the importance of the Christian tradition to Germany. The pre-Christian “people of Israel were the bearers of the revelation” and their books were “building stones for God's kingdom”. Unlike the Nazis, Faulhaber believed Judaism was a religious not a racial concept. In his private correspondence, his sympathy for the Jews of his own time is clear, but Faulhaber feared that going public with these thoughts would make the struggle against the Jews also a “struggle against the Catholics”. Faulhaber's sermons appeared to undermine the central racist tenet of Nazism, but were, in essence, a defence of the church. Similarly, when in 1933, the Nazi school superintendent of Munster issued a decree: religious instruction be combined with discussion of the “demoralising power” of the “people of Israel”, Bishop von Galen refused, writing such interference in curriculum was a breach of the Concordat. He feared children would be confused as to their “obligation to act with charity to all men” and the historical mission of the people of Israel. The language of Galen's later 1941 sermons on the “right to life, and inviolability” of all people, did not mention the Jews by name, but had far reaching resonance. He declared himself speaking to protect the “rights of the human personality”, not the narrow denominational interests of the Catholic Church. Kristallnacht 1938 On 11 November 1938, following Kristallnacht, Pius XI joined Western leaders in condemning the pogrom. In response, the Nazis organised mass demonstrations against Catholics and Jews, in Munich. The Bavarian Gauleiter Adolf Wagner declared before 5,000 protesters: “Every utterance the Pope makes in Rome is an incitement of the Jews throughout the world to agitate against Germany”. Cardinal Faulhaber supplied a truck to the rabbi of the Ohel Yaakov synagogue, to rescue sacred objects before the building was torn down on Kristallacht. A Nazi mob attacked his palace, and smashed its windows. On 21 November, in an address to the world's Catholics, the Pope rejected the Nazi claim of racial superiority. He insisted there was only a single human race. Robert Ley, the Nazi Minister of Labour declared the following day in Vienna: “No compassion will be tolerated for the Jews. We deny the Pope's statement there is but one human race. The Jews are parasites.” Catholic leaders including Cardinal Schuster of Milan, Cardinal van Roey in Belgium and Cardinal Verdier in Paris backed the Pope's strong condemnation of Kristallnacht. Fulda Bishops Conferences During the war, the Fulda Conference of Bishops met annually in Fulda. The issue of whether the bishops should speak out against the persecution of the Jews was debated at a 1942 meeting. The consensus was to “give up heroic action in favor of small successes”. A draft letter proposed by Margarete Sommer was rejected, because it was viewed as a violation of the Reichskonkordat to speak out on issues not directly related to the church. Bishops von Preysing and Frings were the most public in their statements against genocide. Phayer asserts the German episcopate, as opposed to other bishops, could have done more to save Jews. Professor Robert Krieg argues the Church's model of itself “as a hierarchical institution intent on preserving itself so God's grace would be immediately available to its members” prevailed over other models, such as the model of mystical communion, or moral advocate. According to Phayer, “had the German bishops confronted the Holocaust publicly and nationally, the possibilities of undermining Hitler's death apparatus might have existed. Admittedly, it is speculative to assert this, but it is certain that many more German Catholics would have sought to save Jews by hiding them if their church leaders had spoken out”. In this regard, Phayer places the responsibility with the Vatican, asserting that “a strong papal assertion would have enabled the bishops to overcome their disinclinations” and that “Bishop Preysing's only hope to spur his colleagues into action lay in Pius XII”. Yet, Some German bishops are praised for their wartime actions; according to Phayer, “several bishops did speak out”. Preysing In 1935, Pius XI appointed Konrad von Preysing as Bishop of Berlin. Preysing assisted in drafting the anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge. Together with Cologne's Archbishop, Josef Frings, sought to have the German Bishops conference speak out against the Nazi death camps. Preysing even infrequently attended meetings of the Kreisau Circle German resistance movement. Von Preysing was a noted critic of Nazism, but was protected from Nazi retaliation by his position. His cathedral administrator and confidant Bernard Lichtenberg, was not. Lichtenberg was under the watch of the Gestapo by 1933, for his courageous support of prisoners and Jews. He ran Preysing's aid unit (the Hilfswerke beim Bischöflichen Ordinariat Berlin) which secretly assisted those who were being persecuted by the regime. From 1938, Lichtenberg conducted prayers for the Jews and other inmates of the concentration camps, including “my fellow priests there”. For preaching against Nazi propaganda and writing a letter of protest concerning Nazi euthanasia, he was arrested in 1941, sentenced to two years penal servitude, and died en route to Dachau Concentration Camp in 1943. He was subsequently honoured by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations. Frings Josef Frings became Archbishop of Cologne in 1942. In his sermons, he repeatedly spoke in support of persecuted peoples and against state repression. In March 1944, Frings attacked arbitrary arrests, racial persecution and forced divorces. That autumn, he protested to the Gestapo against the deportations of Jews from Cologne and surrounds. Following war's end, Frings succeeded Bertram as chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference in July 1945. In 1946, he was appointed a cardinal by Pius XII. In 1943, the German bishops debated whether to directly confront Hitler collectively over what they knew of the murdering of Jews. Frings wrote a pastoral letter cautioning his diocese not to violate the inherent rights of others to life, even those “not of our blood”; during the war, he preached in a sermon, “no one may take the property or life of an innocent person just because he is a member of a foreign race”. Kaller In East Prussia, the Bishop of Ermland, Maximilian Kaller denounced Nazi eugenics and racism, pursued a policy of ethnic equality for his German, Polish and Lithuanian flock, and protected his Polish clergy and laypeople. Threatened by the Nazis, he applied for a transfer to be chaplain to a concentration camp. His request was denied by Cesare Orsenigo, a Papal Nuncio with some Fascist sympathies. Laity Among the laity, Gertrud Luckner was among the first to sense the genocidal inclinations of the Hitler regime and to take national action. From 1938 she worked at the head office of “Caritas”. She organized aid circles for Jews, assisted many to escape. She personally investigated the fate of the Jews being transported to the East and managed to obtain information on prisoners in concentration camps. In 1935, Margarete Sommer took up a position at the Episcopal Diocesan Authority in Berlin, counseling victims of racial persecution for Caritas Emergency Relief. In 1941 she became director of the Welfare Office of the Berlin Diocesan Authority, under Bernhard Lichtenberg. Following Lichtenberg's arrest, Sommer reported to Bishop von Preysing. While working for the Welfare Office, Sommer coordinated Catholic aid for victims of racial persecution - giving spiritual comfort, food, clothing, and money. She gathered intelligence on the deportations of the Jews, and living conditions in concentration camps, as well as on SS firing squads, writing several reports on these topics from 1942; including an August 1942 report which reached Rome under the title “Report on the Exodus of the Jews”. Knowledge of the Holocaust Unlike the Nazi euthanasia murder of invalids, which the churches led protests against, the Final Solution liquidation of the Jews did not primarily take place on German soil, but rather in Polish territory. Awareness of the murderous campaign was therefore less widespread.Susan Zuccotti has written that the Vatican was aware of the creation of the Nazi extermination camps. She believed an “open condemnation of racism and the persecutions (of Jews)” by the Church, “other results could have been achieved.” With regard to work done by the Vatican, “much more was requested by many”. Indeed, “much more was hoped for by the Jews.”, wrote Zuccotti. According to historians David Bankier and Hans Mommsen a thorough knowledge of the Holocaust was well within the reach of the German bishops. According to historian Michael Phayer, “a number of bishops did want to know, and they succeeded very early on in discovering what their government was doing to the Jews in occupied Poland”. Wilhelm Berning, for example, knew about the systematic nature of the Holocaust as early as February 1942, only one month after the Wannsee Conference. Most German Church historians believe that the church leaders knew of the Holocaust by the end of 1942, knowing more than any other church leaders outside the Vatican. US Envoy Myron C. Taylor passed a US Government memorandum to Pius XII on 26 September 1942, outlining intelligence received from the Jewish Agency for Palestine which said that Jews from across the Nazi Empire were being systematically “butchered”. Taylor asked if the Vatican might have any information which might tend to “confirm the reports”, and if so, what the Pope might be able to do to influence public opinion against the “barbarities”. Cardinal Maglione handed Harold Tittman a response to a letter from Taylor regarding the mistreatment of Jews on 10 October. The note thanked Washington for passing on the intelligence, and confirmed that reports of severe measures against the Jews had reached the Vatican from other sources, though it had not been possible to “verify their accuracy”. Nevertheless, “every opportunity is being taken by the Holy See, however, to mitigate the suffering of these unfortunate people”. The Pope raised race murders in his 1942 Christmas Radio Address. However, after the war, some bishops, including Adolf Bertram and Conrad Grober claimed that they had not been aware of the extent and details of the Holocaust, and were unsure of the veracity of the information that was brought to their attention.
Nazi persecution of the Jews grew steadily worse throughout era of the Third Reich. Hamerow wrote that during the prelude to the Holocaust between Kristallnacht in November 1938 and the 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia, the position of the Jews “deteriorated steadily from disenfranchisement to segregation, ghettoization and sporadic mass murder”. The Vatican responded to the Kristallnacht by seeking to find places of refuge for Jews. Pius XII instructed local bishops to help all those in need at the outbreak of the war. According to Kershaw, the “detestation of Nazism was overwhelming within the Catholic Church”, yet traditional Christian anti-Judaism offered “no bulwark” against Nazi biological antisemitism, and there was no shortage of antisemitic rhetoric from the clergy: Bishop Buchberger of Regensburg called Nazi racism directed at Jews “justified self-defense” in the face of “overly powerful Jewish capital”; Bishop Hilfrich of Limburg said the true Christian religion “made its way not from the Jews but in spite of them.” Still, while clergymen like Cardinal Adolf Bertram favoured a policy of concessions to the Nazi regime, other, like Bishop Preysing of Berlin, called for more concerted opposition.
Church Rescue - References - Netflix