4th July 1942, at dinner
German Embassy at the Vatican—The Concordat must be ended—Faulty manœuvres by the Wilhelmstrasse—I refuse open war with the Church—the Bishops will soon fawn on the State.
Should we decide to recall our present representative from the Vatican, I can see no adequate reason for sending any fresh incumbent to this Embassy. The relations between Germany and the Vatican are based on the Concordat. But this same Concordat is no more than the survival of agreements reached between the Vatican and the different German States, and, with the disappearance of the latter and their incorporation in the German Reich, it has become obsolete.
Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.
The development of relations between State and Church affords a very instructive example of how the carelessness of a single statesman can have after-effects which last for centuries. When Charlemagne was kneeling at prayer in St. Peter’s, Rome, at Christmas in the year 800, the Pope, giving him no time to work out the possible effects of so symbolic an action, suddenly bent down and presto popped a golden crown on his head! By permitting it, the Emperor delivered himself and his successors into the hands of a power which subjected the German Government and the German people to five hundred years of martyrdom.
Today, as always, there are responsible people to be found who are careless enough to allow a crown of gold to be popped on to their heads, and one cannot exaggerate the enormous effects which such an action, seemingly trifling at the time, can later produce.
Much in the same class and equally stupid is the idea of the Wilhelmstrasse that every note from the Vatican must be answered. The very act of answering is tantamount to an admission of the right of the Vatican to interfere in German domestic issues—if only in ecclesiastical issues—and to maintain official correspondence with us.
When once the Concordat and its financial obligations have been repudiated, and the Church becomes dependent on the offertory, it will pocket a bare 3 per cent of the money it at present gets from the State, and all the Bishops will come creeping and begging to the Reichsstatthalter.
It will be the duty of the Reichsstatthalter to make it quite clear after the war that he will deal with the Church in exactly the same way as he deals with any other national association, and that he will not tolerate the intervention of any foreign influence. The Papal Nuncio can then return happily to Rome, we shall be saved the expense of an embassy at the Vatican, and the only people who will weep tears over the jobs that have been lost will be the Foreign Office!