With burning concern

the Enzyklika „with burning concern “ became of Pope Pius XI. to 14. March 1937 signs. The papal circular is concerned with the situation of the Roman-catholic church and its members in Germany in the concrete situation at the time of the national socialism. The designationtaken place - as usual with Enzykliken - after its input words, a characteristic represents however to that extent, when the Enzyklika is written in the original in German language and is exeptionally not Latin therefore the official designation.

Table of contents


starting point for the letter is the situation of the catholic church in the National Socialist controlled state after the conclusion of the realm concordat from the year 1933. It was due to the policy of the realm governmentagain and again to protest notes of the holy chair over in kind. operating liberty of the catholic organizations guaranteed 31 of the concordat come, which were threatened by measures of synchronising. Continued to give the papal diplomacy repeats to its concern over difficulties with the denomination schools and the priest training as well as thatGod denying e.g. by the writings Alfreds' of rose mountain expression. And would pronounce and freesings numerous letters of complaint of the German bishops and a personal the archbishop of Munich and chairman of the bishop conference cardinal Michael of Faulhaber with Adolf Hitler without result remained, advised the plenary assembly of the bishop conference inJanuary 1937 over the further procedure. The bishops could not obtain agreement whether the past policy of the letters of complaint should be continued or whether one should go into the public. Represented latter position in particular the bishop von Münster Clemens August count von Galen and thatBishop of Berlin Konrad count von Preysing.


with an attendance in January 1937 in Rome offered the cardinal undersecretary of state Eugenio Pacelli, the later Pope Pius XII., opposite cardinal from Faulhaber to arrange against the concordat injuries a Hirtenbrief of the Pope.Few days later Faulhaber handed to one over - in its writing down than „imperfectly and probably completely uselessly “designated - draft. Pacelli used this draft as basis of its formulation of the Enzyklika. It inserted thereby the international-law situation given by the realm concordat as introduction, thosethe national socialism not formulations expressly calling cardinal Faulhabers more clearly to the LV ideology referred and the letter not than bare Hirtenbrief addressed to the church in Germany, but when Enzyklika conceives to the whole church.

contents of

the Enzyklika are divided into introduction,ten main parts, which are concerned with individual question or certain addressees contact, and which conclusion:


in the introduction refers the Pope with burning concern and rising appearing strange to the increasing distress of the church in Germany. Tying to thatdespite some doubts locked realm concordat becomes the behavior of the realm government as „machinations, which did not know other goal from beginning than the destruction fight “designation. The realm government made contract reinterpretation, the contract scooping out, finally more or less public violation of contract the law of the trade.

Pure God faith

the first main part turns against the use of the term „gottgläubig “by the ruling powers in Germany. Who equates God in pantheistischer Verschwommenheit with the universe, who moves the dark fate to the place of the personal God or who race or the people orthe state or the system of government, which or other basic values of human community organization makes carriers of the government authority the highest standard, does not belong to the Gottgläubigen. The Pope expresses those, which their Christian obligation against a angriffslüsternes Neuheidentum often favoured from influential side would fulfill, appreciative admiration.

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Pure Christ faith

in the second main part is stated that nobody may say, to be gottgläubig is him religion enough. The God faith must be supported by the faith in Christ. In this connection it is stressed that - of the national socialists as Jewish rejected - the booksthe old person of will organic part of revealing God are. Only blindness and pride could lock the eyes before the treasures, which old person saved the will. Against the cult around the person of Hitler turned it is called clear that that, that in misjudging the difference between Godand creature any mortal one beside Christ to place dares, or over it or against it, a Wahnprophet is.

pure church faith

after closer statement of the Roman-catholic view of the unit of the church is called itself it in the third main part, only one in allmaking, in God love and active next love, seriously for their members on deliberating, each Veräusserlichung and secularization stripping, with the requirements of God and the church, working satisfactorily Christianity the world ill in the deepest reason model could themselves be and will have, if not inexpressible misfortune andall conception a fall leaving behind itself break is. Calls to the withdrawal from the church, which with veiled and visible coercive measures, intimidations and Inaussichtstellung of economic, vocational, civil disadvantages of catholic officials as form of the loyalty confession to the present state one demand in particular, must of thatGläubigen also at the price of heavy terrestrial victims as betrayal of the Taufgelübde to be rejected. Who hopes to connect an outward church withdrawal with internal holding to the loyalty to the church the writing word must „who me before humans denied, that becomes I also forwardsmy father deny “a warning its.

pure faith in the Primat

the fourth part is concerned with the priority of the Pope stressed by the Roman-catholic church and given the desire and LOCK picture of a German national church a refusal.

no reinterpretationholy words and terms

the reinterpretation of religious fundamental ideas is the topic of the fifth section. There for example „revealing becomes “against equating with the a whispering of blood and race, „faith “against the use for the confidence on the future of the people and „immortality “against the useas collective Mitfortleben in the continuance of the people defends.

Sittenlehre and moral order

in the sixth part are stated that no Zwangsgewalt of the state and no purely terrestrial, even if high and noble ideals are taken in the long run in itself in the conditions thoseto replace from the God and Christ faith of coming last and crucial drives. The distribution of the Sittenlehre to a subjective people opinion changing with the time currents opens door and gate for decomposing forces.

acknowledgment of the nature right

the sieved part has to the article that each positive,by the legislator set right to its moral content to be tested must. On it the sentence is based „right is, which is useful to the people “to reject. Because it is not useful, it is morally good, but because it corresponds to the custom law, the positive right is useful. Ofthis basic rule detached the principle, right must is that the people useful one, which mean eternal state of war between the different nations. In this connection the right for the confession of the faith and the school right to vote and educating of parents as components of the nature right are stated.

To the youth

express to the youth - and thus formally outside of the addressee circle, because the Enzyklika turns addressed after the customs at that time to the bishops actual the respected main part. In the reference to not the Hitler Youth expressly specified one says, it is more naturalLegal claim of parents and children that national obligation organizations for the youth were cleaned by all manipulation Christianity and church-hostile spirit. Only in the much praised heldischen size, but also in the moral fight do not give it to heroism. , The gläubige catholic is lent to expectation expressionYouth will make its right to Christian Sundays sanctifying valid also in the national obligation organizations.

to the priests and the medal people

in the ninth part the Pope addresses the clerics, awards to them courage and confidence and requests her, in the service at thatTo endure truth. Those, which had to carry wrong and pursuit because of their practice of the Hirtenpflicht into the dungeon cell and the concentration camp inside and to have, he turns his thanks and the paternal acknowledgment.

to the faithful ones from the layman conditions

the latter andtenth main part addresses itself to the laymen and greets all, which remained faithful to, which they believed. The more the opponents itself endeavored to varnish their dark intentions abzustreiten and over like that more is watchful distrust and by bitter experience up-shaken watchfulnessat the place. No terrestrial force can relieve parents of the volume of the responsibility, which connects it with its children.


the conclusion part turns the bishops as the actual addressees. Insures them the Pope, each word of the Enzyklika weighed outto have, in order to become jointly guilty by old-fashioned silence and not harden by unnecessary severity on the way of the mistake changing. Finally the Pope calls God to the witness that no more intimate desire leads him than the re-establishment of a true peace betweenChurch and state in Germany. If however the peace is not to be, then the church will defend their rights and liberties.


the distribution of the Enzyklika could take place in Germany only under secrecy. After the Nuntiatur the letter to the bishops furtherhad given, was responsible this for the spreading in its Diözesen. In most dioceses copies were sent to all clerics, manufactured in the dioceses Munich, Münster and Speyer special editions in high editions (one estimates altogether 300,000 pieces). To 21. March 1937 became thoseEnzyklika in all catholic municipalities read out.


  • Raem, Heinz Albert: Pius XI. and the national socialism - the Enzyklika „with burning concern “of 14. March 1937. Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich: Schöningh 1979 ISBN 3-506-70734-5
  • Ebinger, Thomas: The Enzyklika „with burning concern “of 21.March 1937 - The catholic church answers to the challenge by the national socialism, seminar work 1996

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sees also: Barmer theological explanation


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