Choosing between God and Satan : the German Catholic clergy of Berlin and the Third Reich / by Kevin Paul Spicer.
This dissertation concerns the involved choices of Berlin Roman Catholic diocesan priests who served in parish ministry. On a daily basis, these priests had to deal with the realities of the Nazi state in relation to their increasingly restricted ministry and their diverse parish populations. The complexities of these men's lives and their own rejection, of, neutrality for, or sometimes acceptance of the Nazi state affected the lives of their parishioners who heard them preach and teach the Catholic faith and its complex relationship to the world. The dissertation locates the priests in the context of a pre-Vatican II German Roman Catholicism. The priests were agents of God who guided the faithful in a variety of ways. In the 1930s, the majority of priests viewed ministry and providing sacramental nourishment to the faithful as their most important task. For most priests, the concerns of politics intersected their lives only when these concerns pertained directly to the rights of the church and the church's freedom to minister to the spiritual welfare of her members. This was not a restrictive viewpoint; rather, it was regarded as the accepted method of ministry for priests. This perception questions the narrow revisionist analysis of a number of historians who have failed to understand fully the intellectual and spiritual mind set of the clergy as well as the theological milieu and framework that sustained German Catholicism as a whole. Instead of permitting the church to succumb quietly to Nazism, the spiritual practices and programs of the church often provoked the lower German Catholic clergy to confront the state directly. Consequently, the very existence of the Catholic church and the perpetuation of its inner and outer ecclesiastical life and pastoral teachings in Germany constituted a reactive form of resistance against the state. The clergy's resistance not only provided and continued its pastoral ministry to the faithful, but it also acted as an interior countermeasure to the pervasive ideology of Nazism.
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