Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Die Beziehungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Zum Heiligen Stuhl 1949-1966

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Die Beziehungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Zum Heiligen Stuhl 1949-1966

Article excerpt

Die Beziehungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zum Heiligen Stuhl 1949-1966. Aus den Vatikanakten des Auswirtigen Amts. Edited by Michael F Feldkamp [Bonner Beitrage zur Kirchengeschichte, Vol. 21.1 (Cologne, Weimar, Vienna: Bohlau Verlag. 2000. Pp. 541. DM 108.)

When the Federal Republic of Germany was established in 1949, its sovereignty was still limited by the controls of the Allied Military Governors. It had first to prove that it would be a stable and democratic polity, that it entirely repudiated the Nazi past, and that it would mobilize the population to resist any further encroachments by the Soviet Union. To achieve these ends, the new state needed friends, among whom was the Vatican. Fortunately, the Pope, Pius XII, had served as Nuncio in Germany during the 1920's. He was well acquainted with the upper echelons of German Catholic society, whom he readily believed had opposed the Nazi totalitarian tyranny. He therefore refused to accept any theory of collective guilt for all Germans, and consequently lent his support for the revitalization of the new Germany. He saw the role of the Catholic Church as vital to the re-Christianization of society, and was particularly glad that the new Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was a staunch Catholic. In response, Adenauer's government hoped to gain international recognition through the Vatican's diplomatic support, and a restoration of its moral credibility by its preparedness to reaffirm the legality of the Concordat signed with the German government in 1933.

This selection of documents from the West German Foreign Ministry records how this relationship developed during the 1950's and 1960's, up to and including the Second Vatican Council. Because the Vatican's archive for this period is still closed, this selection is necessarily one-sided in focus. Nevertheless, it provides a valuable view of the political aspects of West German-Vatican relations, and offers some insights into the views of the leading participants on both sides.

Not until the mid-1950's did the Federal Republic enjoy its full sovereignty in foreign affairs. By then it was fully committed to its western partners in opposition to the Soviet bloc, and its puppet communist state, the German Democratic Republic. …

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