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Pope Issues Anti-Nazi Encyclical - March 14, 1937

Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI, (1857-1939). |

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical denouncing the rise of National Socialism in Germany.

Addressed to Catholic Church leaders in Germany, the encyclical offered encouragement amid apparent attacks on Catholic schools and other institutions by the state.

The encyclical also denounced the Aryan supremacy at the heart of Nazi ideology, stating that anyone who "exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State ... above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God."

"None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations," continued the encyclical.

"No one would think of preventing young Germans establishing a true ethnical community in a noble love of freedom and loyalty to their country. What We object to is the voluntary and systematic antagonism raised between national education and religious duty."

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