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Shedding Light on Shadows: Exposing the Vatican's Involvement in Global Conflict and Acts of Terror

The spike in religious violence is global and affects virtually every religious group. A 2018 Minority Rights Group report indicates that mass killings and other atrocities are increasing in countries both affected and not affected by war alike. While bloody encounters were recorded in over 50 countries, most reported lethal incidents involving minorities were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Hostilities against Muslims and Jews also increased across Europe, as did threats against Hindus in more than 18 countries. Making matters worse, 55 of the world’s 198 countries imposed heightened restrictions on religions, especially Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia, and Turkey. According to a PEW Research article published by KATAYOUN KISHI in 2018, Islamic extremists were waging a global jihad, and power struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East led to the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar. There have also been outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslims across Africa. According to Pew, more than a quarter of the world's countries experienced a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes. As far back as the 1930s, a pamphlet published by the Rationalist Press Association included this quote from historian Bertrand Russell, who stated: "Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing—fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and, therefore, it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things."

“Religion prevents our children from having a rational education; religion prevents us from removing the fundamental causes of war; religion prevents us from teaching the ethic of scientific cooperation in place of the old fierce doctrines of sin and punishment. It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will first be necessary to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.”

Unmasking the Silent Collaboration: The Vatican's Role in Global Conflict and Atrocities

It has become a well-established fact in modern history that wars, genocide, and terrorism have been backed, supported, and carried out by both the religiously devout and religious extremists. To be noted, when you hear the term "Religious War" during this heart-wrenching part of the article, it refers to wars that have a religious goal, claim a spiritual reward for violence, and are authorized and condoned by a religious leader. Perhaps the most globally recognized "Religious War" of the 20th century was carried out by the Nazi Germany party in cooperation with the Vatican Church. It should be interesting to note that the legitimate authority for a holy war is not the government of a state but the Church. In the case of the 3 Rich, the Nazi party engaged in crimes against religious minorities including Jews, Gypsies, and Jehovah's Witnesses, resulting in an estimated death toll of around 6 million. These acts were both instigated and supported by the Vatican during its beginnings. As documented in "The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany" by Guenter Lewy, the Nazi-Nationalist collaboration came to power on March 5, 1933, winning 52% of the votes. On March 13th, Priest Pius XI, Cardinal Faulhaber publicly praised Chancellor Adolf Hitler for the stand he had taken against communism. Prior to this, the Holy See had been working to establish a Concordat between them and Germany, which involved maintaining control over religious schooling, assets, and the like. Negotiations had failed in the past due to the former German party being predominantly non-Catholic. However, with the rise of Hitler, the Holy See saw a new opportunity for negotiations and was willing to implement new strategies to obtain them. The Vatican's use of the Hitler regime had immediate policy advantages, as a law announced on Feb 27th recognized seven Catholic feast days as legal holidays.

For that reason, although having placed limits on the Nazi Party under the old regime, the Vatican made a momentous reversal. On March 24th, the Catholic Church hastily removed restrictions placed on the Nazi Party in a letter written by Cardinal Bertram, addressing members of the Fulda Bishop's Conference. The Vatican approved Bishop Bertram's stance on removing prohibitions formerly placed on the Nazi Party and welcoming them into the church. Hitler saw this as a great diplomatic opportunity to establish a strong relationship with Rome and worked to establish a Concordat. The Vatican now saw a unique opportunity to use Nazi political power to carry out their own religious agenda and were willing to implement and support the extermination of the religious minority to achieve their religious ends. This led many to see that what is noted in history as one of the greatest atrocities of the century was, in fact, instigated, supported, and facilitated by one of the most powerful religious organizations in the world.

And, with the backing of the Vatican, there was now nothing to stand in Hitler's way of gaining world dominion by employing Vatican-supported and inspired tactics to exterminate any religious opposition or entity standing in its way. At the meeting of the Bavarian Council of Ministers on April 24th, 1933, the Premier was able to report that Cardinal Faulhaber had issued an order for the clergy to support the new regime in which he (Faulhaber) had confidence. A declaration of the Catholic teachers' organization, published on April 1, encouraged its members to participate in building the new order and to be helpers and friends to the nationalist movement. When German ministers Papen and Goring of the Nazi party visited the Vatican on April 10, they were received with great honor. The Catholic Allgemeine Rundschau concluded, "The bishops cannot fight where Rome concludes peace." When Jehovah’s Witnesses were suppressed in Bavaria on April 13th, the Church, on assignment from Hitler's Ministry of Education, reported any members seen or thought to be still practicing the newly forbidden faith. As Hitler fulfilled his role as executor of religious minorities and began operations of the notorious concentration camps and gas chambers, members of the Catholic faith were being persuaded to continue suppressing emotional sympathies. On April 3, 1938, Papen, who assumed the title of Protector, founded an organization named Kreuz und Alder (Cross & Eagle) to appeal to German Catholics to join in the creation of the Third Reich that personified the "God-Given" mission of the German nationals to deepen Christian-conservative thinking. Papen was clear in his purpose to use the Nazi Party for its own religiously corrupt means and made this eyebrow-raising statement: "Success is not tied to the existence of political parties," which, according to him, would not last. For Hitler's 4th birthday party on April 20, 1935, Monsignor Kaas sent a telegram of congratulations from Rome that was published in the press. "For today's birthday, sincere good wishes and the assurance of unwavering cooperation in the great enterprise of creating a Germany internally united, enjoying social peace, and externally free. Kaas, who wrote from Rome, was expressing the well wishes of the Holy See. "The bishops, it goes without saying, rendered the state and the authority what is their due according to God's command. The Church has done this under earlier forms of government, and she would do the same under the present one. She would urge the faithful to be obedient and respectful." The bishops gladly recognized that the new state promoted Christianity, raised the level of morality, and fought the battle against Bolshevism and godlessness with vigor and success. During that meeting, Hitler spoke about the long-standing view of the church and their views of Jews as parasites, pointing to the fact that the Church had banished them to the Ghettos. He reaffirmed his stance against them and mentioned that he was only going to do what the Church had done for 1,500 years. As a devout Catholic, Hitler affirmed that he was personally convinced of the great power and significance of Christianity, and he would not permit the founding of another religion. A statement that, at that time, went unchallenged by the Holy See.

From such statements, it is clear that the Catholic Church, with Vatican approval, were instrumental in orchestrating, facilitating, and implementing the genocide and execution of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other religious minorities who did not adhere to the supreme power and doctrine of the Catholic faith. Archbishop Gober, in response to an inquiry at the Vatican, had also been told that a concordance between the Reich and the Holy See had been discussed in the talks with Papen and Goring. So how did the Vatican escape retribution along with Hitler and the regime with its fall in 1945? Perhaps, in part, due to the fact that Hitler and the Catholic Bishops only met publicly on a few occasions. With the death of Pius XI in 1939, Hitler sought to influence the vote of the next Pope who would be more favorable to his policies. After taking control, Pope Pius XII remained politically neutral and chose not to use his influence to ruffle the feathers of Germany, in the interest of the Church in Germany. In his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus ("On the Unity of Human Society"), released in October 1939, Pius urged Church members internationally, including Germany, to remember a quote from Jesus, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." This meant that Church members were expected to obey the laws of the land even if it meant carrying out the execution of religious minorities, which would soon commence in the months following his new appointment. It is important to note that neither the Bible nor Jesus ever encouraged disciples to obey government leaders at all costs. In that same quote, Jesus continued, “but render God’s things to God.” This meant that in the event that a government asks members to disobey God's commandments, the disciple was expected to give priority to obedience to God. For Jesus' disciples, this involved loving their enemies, not killing them.

The Vatican at that time never directly condemned Hitler, his policies, or practices, even when Hitler began using gas chambers starting at the end of 1939. As Hitler made his way through Europe, seeking to expand his political influence and religious ideologies, many governments sought the support of the Vatican to help sue for peace, but this tactic failed. By this time, war had nearly engulfed the world, and the Vatican passed intelligence between countries to help them escape from a problem they themselves helped facilitate and instigate at the start of Hitler's regime. On September 26, 1943, Nazi officials demanded 50 kilograms of gold from Jewish leaders in Rome within 36 hours. Otherwise, they threatened to send 200 Roman Jews to concentration camps. The Vatican, with the eyes of the world watching, was still unwilling to offer the money to Jews without cost. Instead, they offered an open-ended loan in the amount needed to pay the Germans. After the money was paid, all Jews, regardless of sex, age, or health, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The total number deported was 1,015, with only 16 surviving the war. The estimate of Jews killed during the Holocaust is between 5.8 million and 11 million. However, some experts suggest that the number may be significantly higher. In other countries occupied by the Germans, Jews underwent conversion of faith, becoming Catholics, to avoid persecution.

While some claim that the Catholic Church was directly responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives during Hitler's anti-Jewish campaigns, others note that the Catholic Church, which supported and solidified Hitler's rise to power, is responsible not only for the lives lost of the millions persecuted, including Jews, but also by extension responsible for the 75 million lives lost during WWII. Although the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights was not in place then, the fact that the Vatican is responsible for some 75 million lives must be powerfully considered when meting out justice on behalf of the world. Despite many Jewish leaders praising Pope Pius XII for his help in "aiding" the Jews during the Holocaust, the reality is that the Vatican played a major role in the establishment of the Third Reich, never publicly condemning their religious intolerance and persecution, and only began helping Jews once the problem extended outside the walls of Germany and began impacting Church interests in other countries. Perhaps Pope Pius XII's motives are better understood in the light of what took place when tons of explosives were dropped on Rome in 1943 during WWII by American bombers. As soon as the all-clear had sounded, instead of initially using that moment to provide spiritual comfort and instill courage and hope in the ears of the people, he reportedly went to the Vatican Bank to withdraw cash reserves before driving into the city. These are sins the Vatican can never atone for.

Global Human Rights Taskforce Recommendations

In light of recent shocking revelations, it has become abundantly clear that the Vatican has shamelessly transgressed numerous signed articles of Human Rights, flagrantly disregarding the fundamental principles that underpin our global society. Furthermore, compelling evidence has surfaced implicating leading members of the Vatican in grievous war crimes, adding further urgency to this pressing matter.

In light of these egregious transgressions, we, the undersigned, deem it imperative that immediate and decisive action be taken to address these atrocities and hold the Vatican accountable for their actions. Therefore, we strongly recommend the swift seizure of the Vatican's international assets and the subsequent initiation of trials for the accused in recognized international courts.

The Vatican's relentless violations of signed Human Rights articles constitute an affront to the freedoms and rights that we, as a global community, hold dear. Article after article has been trampled upon, revealing a pattern of disregard for the dignity and well-being of countless individuals. This brazen display of contempt towards the basic principles of justice and equality necessitates an uncompromising response from the international community.

Additionally, the shocking evidence of war crimes committed by senior members of the Vatican adds a chilling dimension to this urgent matter. These individuals, in positions of authority and influence, have committed acts that not only undermine international peace and stability but also cause immeasurable suffering and devastation to innocent lives. Such heinous crimes cannot and must not go unpunished.

To ensure justice prevails, we advocate for the immediate seizure of the Vatican's international assets as a precautionary measure. This action will not only prevent the further misuse of wealth but also serve as a means to secure reparations for victims who have suffered at the hands of those within the Vatican's hierarchy.

Furthermore, we call for the prompt initiation of trials for the leading members involved in these war crimes within recognized international courts. By subjecting them to legal scrutiny, we demonstrate our unwavering commitment to upholding the principles upon which our global society is founded. Only through the impartial administration of justice can we begin to right the immense wrongs perpetrated by these individuals.

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