OF VATICAN POLICY

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Опубликовано в библиотеке: 2022-11-06
Источник: Russian Analytica 2005-09-30

Sergei DROZHZHIN

Political analyst, journalist

To many European periodicals, the trip that the new head of the Roman Catholic Church, 78-year-old Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) made to Germany in August 2005 and especially his visit to the Cologne synagogue gave cause for reverting to the role played by the Holy See during the World War II.

For the Russian community, election of the new pope means a new question: what is going to change in the Vatican policy toward Russia and Russian Orthodox Church, and what is going to stay unchanged.

While the previous pope John Paul II was Polish, the new pope is a German coming from Bavaria. During his visit to Germany, Benedict XVI offered the Jewish community his apologies for the Vatican position during mass physical extinction of Jews in

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Europe, however these apologies came as a reminder that during the Nazi era the Holy See was a political ally of the Hitler Germany.

In 1933 Vatican and Hitler signed a so-called concordat (treaty) that had dramatic consequences for the German community. A most important consequence of the concordat was that German Catholics no longer engaged in political activities. (In early 1930s there were around 25 mln. Catholics in Germany, which made around 35% of the total population). According to the concordat, Berlin had the final decision on what could be considered 'political activities' under the Nazi rule.

A treaty between Hitler and Vatican destroyed any possible existence of political opposition in Germany of 1930s. As a result of the concordat, the Catholic Center Party, a most influential German political party, was dismissed. At that, after the Nazis had annexed Austria and Sudets region (Czechoslovakia) the number of Catholics reached half of the Third Reich population (a quarter of SS members were Catholic).

Thus, what Bismarck failed to achieve during Kulturkampf (struggle against political Catholicism) was accomplished by Hitler and pope Pius XII. There is a testament made by a person close to the pope that can contribute to the picture of the relationships between Hitler and Pius XII: pope's nephew stated that during the war his uncle would seclude himself in his private chapel to engage in exorcism. "He would drive a demon out of Hitler", pope's nephew said.

For Pius XII, the concordat continued the route outlined back during the years of World War I. In June 1914, just four days before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, a 30-year old cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a would-be pope Pius XII had attended the signing

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of the so-called 'Serbian Concordat'. There is an opinion that it was not only the assassination of the Archduke that made the Austrians declare a war; it was also the fact of signing the 'Serbian Concordat'.

As for Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, he was a member of Hitlerjugend as a young man, he was called up at the age of 16, deserted in May 1945 and was then interned by the Allied troops in Ulm. For 21 years cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican's major ideological institution that inherited some functions related to protection of the Roman Catholic doctrine from its predecessor, The Holy Inquisition. As the prefect, as well as the dean of the College of Cardinals and a most influential member of the Roman Curia, Mr. Ratzinger "was largely involved in determining doctrinal guidelines of the papal policy", deacon Andrey Kurayev says. In 2002 Mr. Ratzinger resigned from the position of the Congregation prefect, which was often linked with a scandal that broke out in Rome when several hundreds of US Catholic priests were accused of pedophilia.

The new pope is called a conservative. A question often comes up about which position toward the so-called 'Fatima Prophecies' he is going to adopt, once on the Holy See. This refers to a story that for almost 90 years has been viewed by many as a starting point of the Vatican policy toward Russia, though even people of the same faith split on this issue.

According to Catholic beliefs, in 1917 Our Lady appeared to 3 children from Fatima village (Portugal) and delivered a prophecy about the world's future. Two children who had witnessed the miracle soon died one after another. The third witness, Lъcia dos Santos, had the visions for two more times, each delivering another

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prophecy. Ever since then these prophecies are known in the Catholic tradition as the "Three Secrets of Fatima". Appearance of Our Lady in Fatima is officially recognized by Vatican, almost all popes have since visited this Portuguese town.

The meaning of the second prophecy remains fairly vague; most often it is summed up as saying that Russia should be consecrated to the Catholic cult of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Catholics describe this as 'consecration' of Russia (which is something Lъcia dos Santos insisted on) meaning that the office of Russia's consecration should be performed by the Pope in the presence of all Catholic bishops.

The second Fatima prophecy is often interpreted as saying that Russia will eventually come to the Roman See, which basically means it must give up orthodoxy.

Lъcia dos Santos who had become a nun died recently at the age of 97. Before her death she met with Mel Gibson, a famous American director and Catholic who is going to make a movie about John Paul II where he would like to use testaments of the Fatima miracle. It is known that sister Lъcia experienced enormous pressure throughout her life, among other things she was not allowed to discuss the prophecies with anyone without cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sanctioning it.

In 1940 sister Lъcia asked Pius XII to 'bless' Russia but he refused to do so. Prior to this Pius XII in his message 'Divini Redemptoris' (1937) had strictly prohibited any cooperation between Catholics and the Russian Communist regime. Generally, Pius XII considered the Soviet Russia to be a worse enemy than Hitler's Germany. This position comes to memory in connection with Roman archpriests'

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claims to infallibility in the faith and pietism issues - claims viewed as absurd by the Orthodox Church.

Today Vatican seeks to be in the forefront of the struggle for 'human rights' and 'democratic values' by starting up proselytic activities (missionary outreach) on the canonic territory of the Russian Orthodox Church. So this issue appears to be fairly acute, especially in the context of the centuries-long 'Latin' offensives on Russia. In fact, proselytism has become the basis of 'Ostpolitik', 'Eastern policy' of Vatican. Assuming the fact that the Second Vatican Council called the Orthodox Church a 'sister' thus admitting it possesses its own canonic territory, Catholic proselytism in Russia contradicts Vatican's own decisions, among others. And finally, it remains unclear which doctrine Vatican is going to implant on the canonic territory of its 'Sister Church' that still keeps the apostolic tradition intact.


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© Sergei DROZHZHIN () Источник: Russian Analytica 2005-09-30

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