Albert Stohr

Albert Stohr (13 November 1890 – 3 June 1961) was Bishop of Mainz from 15 July 1935 until his death.

Stohr was born in Friedberg, Germany. He entered the seminary in Mainz in 1909[1] and was ordained as a priest on 19 October 1913 in Mainz Cathedral.[2] After the death of Bishop Ludwig Maria Hugo, he was elected bishop by the cathedral chapter on 10 June 1935 and confirmed by Pope Pius XI on 17 July 1935. He was consecrated by Archbishop Conrad Gröber on 24 August 1935.[2]

His time in office was dominated by World War II and the subsequent reconstruction efforts. He died in Seligenstadt.

Amid 1941 Catholic protests over Nazi euthanasia led by Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen, Stohr sermonized against the taking of life.[3]

Bischof Albert Stohr auf dem Bodensee - Foto Leonhard Veith August 1959
Bishop Stohr in 1959

References

  1. ^ Sigrid Duchhardt-Bösken (1995). "Stohr, Albert". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 10. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1523–1526. ISBN 3-88309-062-X.
  2. ^ a b Albert Stohr at catholic-hierarchy.org
  3. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p.98

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Ludwig Maria Hugo
Bishop of Mainz
1935–1961
Succeeded by
Hermann Volk
Catholic Church and Nazi Germany

Popes Pius XI (1922–39) and Pius XII (1939–58) led the Roman Catholic Church through the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Around a third of Germans were Catholic in the 1930s. The Church in Germany had spoken against the rise of Nazism, but the Catholic aligned Centre Party capitulated in 1933 and was banned. In the various 1933 elections the percentage of Catholics voting for the Nazis party was remarkably lower than the average. Nazi key ideologue Alfred Rosenberg was banned on the index of the Inquisition, presided by later pope Pius XII. Adolf Hitler and several key Nazis had been raised Catholic, but became hostile to the Church in adulthood. While Article 24 of the NSDAP party platform called for conditional toleration of Christian denominations and the 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty with the Vatican purported to guarantee religious freedom for Catholics, the Nazis were essentially hostile to Christianity and the Catholic Church faced persecution in Nazi Germany. Its press, schools and youth organisations were closed, much property confiscated and around one third of its clergy faced reprisals from authorities. Catholic lay leaders were targeted in the Night of the Long Knives purge. The Church hierarchy attempted to co-operate with the new government, but in 1937, the Papal Encyclical Mit brennender Sorge accused the government of "fundamental hostility" to the church.

Among the most courageous demonstrations of opposition inside Germany were the 1941 sermons of Bishop August von Galen of Münster. Nevertheless, wrote Alan Bullock "[n]either the Catholic Church nor the Evangelical Church... as institutions, felt it possible to take up an attitude of open opposition to the regime". In every country under German occupation, priests played a major part in rescuing Jews, but Catholic resistance to mistreatment of Jews in Germany was generally limited to fragmented and largely individual efforts. Mary Fulbrook wrote that when politics encroached on the church, Catholics were prepared to resist, but that the record was otherwise patchy and uneven, and that, 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".Catholics fought on both sides in the Second World War. Hitler's invasion of predominantly Catholic Poland ignited the conflict in 1939. Here, especially in the areas of Poland annexed to the Reich—as in other annexed regions of Slovenia and Austria—Nazi persecution of the church was intense. Many clergy were targeted for extermination. Through his links to the German Resistance, Pope Pius XII warned the Allies of the planned Nazi invasion of the Low Countries in 1940. From that year, the Nazis gathered priest-dissidents in a dedicated clergy barracks at Dachau, where 95 percent of its 2,720 inmates were Catholic (mostly Poles, and 411 Germans) and 1,034 priests died there. Expropriation of church properties surged from 1941.

The Vatican, surrounded by Fascist Italy, was officially neutral during the war, but used diplomacy to aid victims and lobby for peace. Vatican Radio and other media spoke out against atrocities. While Nazi antisemitism embraced modern pseudo-scientific racial principles, ancient antipathies between Christianity and Judaism contributed to European antisemitism. During the Nazi era, the Church rescued many thousands of Jews by issuing false documents, lobbying Axis officials, hiding them in monasteries, convents, schools and elsewhere; including in the Vatican and papal residence at Castel Gandolfo. The Pope's role during this period is contested. The Reich Security Main Office called Pius XII a "mouthpiece" of the Jews. His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, called the invasion of Poland an "hour of darkness", his 1942 Christmas address denounced race murders and his Mystici corporis Christi encyclical (1943) denounced the murder of the handicapped.

Catholic bishops in Nazi Germany

Catholic bishops in Nazi Germany differed in their responses to the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust during the years 1933–1945. In the 1930s, the Episcopate of the Catholic Church of Germany comprised 6 Archbishops and 19 bishops while German Catholics comprised around one third of the population of Germany served by 20,000 priests. In the lead up to the 1933 Nazi takeover, German Catholic leaders were outspoken in their criticism of Nazism. Following the Nazi takeover, the Catholic Church sought an accord with the Government, was pressured to conform, and faced persecution. The regime had flagrant disregard for the Reich concordat with the Holy See, and the episcopate had various disagreements with the Nazi government, but it never declared an official sanction of the various attempts to overthrow the Hitler regime. Ian Kershaw wrote that the churches "engaged in a bitter war of attrition with the regime, receiving the demonstrative backing of millions of churchgoers. Applause for Church leaders whenever they appeared in public, swollen attendances at events such as Corpus Christi Day processions, and packed church services were outward signs of the struggle of ... especially of the Catholic Church - against Nazi oppression". While the Church ultimately failed to protect its youth organisations and schools, it did have some successes in mobilizing public opinion to alter government policies.The German bishops initially hoped for a quid pro quo that would protect Catholic schools, organisations, publications and religious observance. While head of the Bishop's Conference Adolf Bertram persisted in a policy of avoiding confrontation on broader issues of human rights, the activities of Bishops such as Konrad von Preysing, Joseph Frings and Clemens August Graf von Galen came to form a coherent, systematic critique of many of the teachings of Nazism. Kershaw wrote that, while the "detestation of Nazism was overwhelming within the Catholic Church", it did not preclude church leaders approving of areas of the regime's policies, particularly where Nazism "blended into 'mainstream' national aspirations"—like support for "patriotic" foreign policy or war aims, obedience to state authority (where this did not contravene divine law); and destruction of atheistic Marxism and Soviet Bolshevism - and traditional Christian anti-Judaism was "no bulwark" against Nazi biological antisemitism. Such protests as the bishops did make about the mistreatment of the Jews tended to be by way of private letters to government ministers, rather than explicit public pronouncements. From the outset, Pope Pius XI, had ordered the Papal Nuncio in Berlin, Cesare Orsenigo, to "look into whether and how it may be possible to become involved" in the aid of Jews, but Orsenigo proved a poor instrument in this regard, concerned more with the anti-church policies of the Nazis and how these might effect German Catholics, than with taking action to help German Jews.By 1937, after four years of persecution, the church hierarchy, which had initially sought to co-operate with the new government, had become highly disillusioned and Pope Pius XI issued the Mit brennender Sorge anti-Nazi encyclical, which had been co-drafted by Cardinal Archbishop Michael von Faulhaber of Munich together, with Preysing and Galen and the Vatican Sectretary of State Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII). The encyclical accused the Nazis of sowing "secret and open fundamental hostility to Christ and His Church". The German Bishops condemned the Nazi sterilization law. In 1941, Bishop Clemens von Galen led protests against the Nazi euthanasia programme. In 1941, a pastoral letter of the German Bishops proclaimed that "the existence of Christianity in Germany is at stake", and a 1942 letter accused the government of "unjust oppression and hated struggle against Christianity and the Church". At the close of the war, the resistor Joseph Frings, succeeded the appeaser Adolf Bertram as chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference, and, along with Galen and Preysing, was promoted to Cardinal by Pius XII.

The Anschluss with Austria increased the number and percentage of Catholics within the Reich. A pattern of attempted co-operation, followed by repression was repeated. At the direction of Cardinal Innitzer, the churches of Vienna pealed their bells and flew swastikas for Hitler's arrival in the city on 14 March 1938. However, wrote Mark Mazower, such gestures of accommodation were "not enough to assuage the Austrian Nazi radicals, foremost among them the young Gauleiter Globocnik". Globocnik launched a crusade against the Church, and the Nazis confiscated property, closed Catholic organisations and sent many priests to Dachau. A Nazi mob ransacked Cardinal Innitzer's residence, after he had denounced Nazi persecution of the Church. In the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, the Church faced its most extreme persecution. But after the invasion, Nuncio Orsenigo in Berlin assumed the role of protector of the Church in the annexed regions, in conflict with his role of facilitating better relations with the German government, and his own fascistic sympathies. In 1939, five of the Polish bishops of the annexed Warthegau region were deported to concentration camps. In Greater Germany through the Nazi period, just one German Catholic bishop was briefly imprisoned in a concentration camp, and just one other expelled from his diocese.

Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany

Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany was a component of German resistance to Nazism and of Resistance during World War II. The role of the Church during the Nazi years was always, and remains however, a matter of much contention. Many writers, echoing Klaus Scholder, have concluded, "There was no Catholic resistance in Germany, there were only Catholics who resisted." The Vatican policy meant that the Pope never challenged Catholics to side either with National Socialism or with Catholic morality, and Pius XII was so adamant that Bolshevism represented the most terrible threat to the world that he remarked, 'Germany are a great nation who, in their fight against Bolshevism, are bleeding not only for their friends but also for the sake of their present enemies'. In a letter of autumn 1941 Pius XII wrote to Bishop Preysing, "We emphasise that, because the Church in Germany is dependent upon your public behaviour...in public declarations you are duty bound to exercise restraint" and "requires(d) you and your colleagues not to protest."From the outset of Nazi rule in 1933, issues emerged which brought the Church into conflict with the regime and persecution of the Church led Pope Pius XI to denounce the policies of the Nazi Government in the 1937 papal encyclical Mit brennender Sorge. His successor Pius XII faced the war years and provided intelligence to the Allies. Catholics fought on both sides in World War II and neither the Catholic nor Protestant churches as institutions were prepared to openly oppose the Nazi State.

An estimated one-third of German Catholic priests faced some form of reprisal from authorities and thousands of Catholic clergy and religious were sent to concentration camps. 400 Germans were among the 2,579 Catholic priests imprisoned in the clergy barracks at Dachau. While the head German bishop generally avoided confronting the regime, other bishops such as Preysing, Frings and Galen developed a Catholic critique of aspects of Nazism. Galen led Catholic protest against Nazi "euthanasia".Catholic resistance to mistreatment of Jews in Germany was generally limited to fragmented and largely individual efforts. But in every country under German occupation, priests played a major part in rescuing Jews. Israeli historian Pinchas Lapide estimated that Catholic rescue of Jews amounted to somewhere between 700,000 and 860,000 people - though the figure is contested. The martyrs St Maximilian Kolbe, Giuseppe Girotti and Bernhard Lichtenberg were among those killed in part for aiding Jews. Among the notable Catholic networks to rescue Jews and others were Hugh O'Flaherty's "Rome Escape Line", the Assisi Network and Poland's Żegota.

Relations between the Axis governments and the church varied. Bishops such as the Netherlands' Johannes de Jong, Belgium's Jozef-Ernest van Roey and France's Jules-Géraud Saliège issued major denunciations of Nazi treatment of Jews. Convents and nuns like Margit Slachta and Matylda Getter also led resistance. Vatican diplomats like Giuseppe Burzio in Slovakia, Filippo Bernardini in Switzerland and Angelo Roncalli in Turkey saved thousands. The nuncio to Budapest, Angelo Rotta, and Bucharest, Andrea Cassulo, have been recognised by Yad Vashem in Israel. The nationalist regimes in Slovakia and Croatia were pro-clerical, while in Slovene, Czech, Austrian and Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, repression of the church was at its most severe and the Catholic religion was integral to much Polish resistance.

Friedberg, Hesse

Friedberg (Friedberg in der Wetterau) is a town and the capital of the Wetteraukreis district, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Frankfurt am Main. In 1966, the town hosted the sixth Hessentag state festival, in 1979 the 19th.

Hermann Volk

Hermann Volk (27 December 1903 – 1 July 1988) was a German Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Mainz from 1962 to 1982, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1973.

Karl-Josef Rauber

Karl-Josef Rauber (born 11 April 1934) is a cardinal of the Catholic Church, who served as a papal nuncio from 1982 until his retirement in 2009.

Kirchenlied

Kirchenlied ("Church song") is a German Catholic hymnal published in 1938. It was a collection of 140 old and new songs, including hymns by Protestant authors. It was the seed for a common Catholic hymnal which was realised decades later, in the Gotteslob (1975).

Mainz

Mainz (; German: [maɪ̯nt͡s] (listen); Latin: Mogontiacum, French: Mayence) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city is located on the Rhine river at its confluence with the Main river, opposite Wiesbaden on the border with Hesse. Mainz is an independent city with a population of 206,628 (2015) and forms part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.Mainz was founded by the Romans in the 1st Century BC during the Classical antiquity era, serving as a military fortress on the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire and as the provincial capital of Germania Superior. Mainz became an important city in the 8th Century AD as part of the Holy Roman Empire, becoming the capital of the Electorate of Mainz and seat of the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, the Primate of Germany. Mainz is famous as the home of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable-type printing press, who in the early 1450s manufactured his first books in the city, including the Gutenberg Bible. Historically, before the 20th century, the city was known in English as Mentz and in French as Mayence. Mainz was heavily damaged during World War II, with more than 30 air raids destroying about 80 percent of the city's center, including most of the historic buildings. Today, Mainz is a transport hub and a center of wine production.

Nazi euthanasia and the Catholic Church

During the Second World War, the Roman Catholic Church protested against Aktion T4, the Nazi involuntary euthanasia programme under which the mentally ill, physically deformed, and incurably sick were to be killed. The protests formed one of the most significant public acts of Catholic resistance to Nazism undertaken within Germany. The euthanasia programme began in 1939, and ultimately resulted in the murder of more than 70,000 people who were senile, mentally handicapped, mentally ill, epileptics, cripples, children with Down's Syndrome, or people with similar afflictions. The murders involved interference in Church welfare institutions, and awareness of the murderous programme became widespread. Church leaders who opposed it – chiefly the Catholic Bishop Clemens August von Galen of Münster and Protestant Bishop Theophil Wurm – were therefore able to rouse widespread public opposition.

Catholic protests began in the summer of 1940. The Holy See declared on 2 December 1940 that the policy was contrary to natural and positive Divine law, and that: "The direct killing of an innocent person because of mental or physical defects is not allowed." In the summer of 1941, protests were led in Germany by Bishop von Galen, whose intervention, according to Richard J. Evans, led to "the strongest, most explicit and most widespread protest movement against any policy since the beginning of the Third Reich." In 1943, Pope Pius XII issued the Mystici corporis Christi encyclical, in which he condemned the practice of killing the disabled. The Encyclical was followed, on 26 September 1943, by an open condemnation from the German Bishops which denounced the killing of innocent and defenceless people, whether mentally or physically handicapped, incurably infirm, fatally wounded, innocent hostages, disarmed prisoners of war, criminal offenders, or belonging to a different race.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Mainz

The Diocese of Mainz, historically known in English by its French name of Mayence is a Latin rite of the Catholic church in Germany. It was founded in 304, promoted in 780 to Metropolitan Archbishopric of Mainz and demoted back in 1802 to bishopric. The diocese is suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Freiburg. Its district is located in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. The seat of the diocese is in Mainz at the Cathedral dedicated to Saints Martin and Stephen. It is the only Roman Catholic diocese in the world – other than Rome – which bears the title of a Holy See.

Wilhelm Kempf (bishop)

Wilhelm Kempf (10 August 1906 – 9 October 1982) was a German Catholic theologian who served between 1949 to 1981 as Bishop of Limburg. After the Second World War, he introduced the reforms of the Second Vatican Council to his Diocese.

Worms Cathedral

St Peter's Cathedral (German: Wormser Dom) is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral in Worms, southern Germany.

The cathedral is located on the highest point of the inner city of Worms and is the most important building of the Romanesque style in Worms. It is closely associated with Bishop Burchard and the high point of Worms' history in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was the seat of the Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Worms until its extinction in 1802, during German mediatisation.

After the extinction of the Bishopric it was reduced in status to that of a parish church, however it was bestowed the title of Minor basilica in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

Most of the cathedral was finished by 1181, however the west choir and the vaulting were built in the 13th century, the elaborate south portal was added in the 14th century, and the central dome has been rebuilt.

Great events associated with the cathedral include the nomination of Leo IX as Pope in 1048, the Concordat of Worms which ended the Investiture controversy in 1122, the marriage of Emperor Frederick II to Isabella of England in 1235 and the Diet of Worms in 1521, during which Martin Luther was condemned as a heretic.

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