Three quotes about clerical sexual abuse and its causes:


In the sold mass of so-called “regrettable individual lapses,” in the over-tolerant attitude of clerical superiors, and in the lying propaganda of this international body under the guidance of Roman or Vatican laws, we perceive symptoms of a disease leading to the complete internal decay of an institution


All who today bear the name of Christian share responsibility for all those ecclesiastical sins of past days whose expiation the Lord of righteousness is now completing.


We must not blame the agents of these deeds so much as the system. It is a system which has brought untold misery on mankind… Perhaps Saints can manage to love according to the rules of these Orders; certainly ordinary, natural man will only achieve sham sanctity.


These quotes seem apropos of what the Catholic Church is going through now. Unfortunately, they were all made in 1936-1937 – in Germany – by Nazis.


Hitler had long railed against the corruption of the monasteries. He had been in a Benedictine school for a year – there is some suspicion that something happened there, but only vague and circumstantial evidence.


In 1936 the Nazis began the Sittlichkeitsprozesse, the Immorality Trials, Eventually about 250 priests, religious, and employees of Catholic institutions were found guilty. The German bishops admitted the truth of these cases, but said they had handled them when they know about them. Apparently the bishops had usually dismissed the offenders, but they had not reported the offenses to the police. The bishops also objected to the way the press was portraying what happened. Sound familiar?


The Nazis had a field day attacking the Church. The failure of the Church allowed the Nazis to seize the high moral ground (!), and they enjoyed lecturing the bishops about morality. The Nazis also lied, distorted, fabricated evidence, suborned perjury, and otherwise behaved like Nazis, claiming that 7.000 abusers had been convicted.


How widespread was corruption in the German Church? Were the Nazis right (gag) in the substance of their charges? History has many ironies, but this one…!


(The quotes are from a  1940 book The Persecution of the Church in the Third Reich by Walther Mariaux, a German Jesuit in the Curia who worked with materials smuggled out of Germany).

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