An Alternative to Terror

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One of Budapest’s top tourist destinations is the Terror Haza, a harrowing museum in the former headquarters first of the Arrow Cross fascists who collaborated with the Nazis and, later, of Hungary’s Stalinist secret police. Valerie Miké’s new study of the little-known Catholic worker movement in twentieth-century Hungary shows a shining alternative to Terror Haza. Continue Reading »

European Reconciliation

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Currently, visitors to the Vatican Museums in Rome have the opportunity to visit an exhibition devoted to Cardinal Bolesław Kominek (1903-1974), aptly titled “Europe’s Forgotten Founding Father.” The author of the “Pastoral Letter of the Polish Bishops to Their German Brothers,” sent . . . . Continue Reading »

The Hero of Hungary

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Today, we mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, a courageous Hungarian prelate who fought against communist tyranny despite great suffering, yet at the end was betrayed by Rome. As today’s Church faces threats around the world from secularists, Islamic fundamentalists and others, it is worth recalling his story to see the dangers of being excessively polite with evil ideologies.The Hungarians are an ancient, patriotic people united under one state and Christianized during the reign of King St. Stephen I (997-1038). In the subsequent millennium, Hungary had at times been a regional power (before the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, Hungary was three times its present size), and at others was subjugated and invaded by Mongols, Turks, Habsburgs, Nazis, Soviets. Continue Reading »

When We Cared

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Today, we mark the hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24th, 1915, the nationalist Young Turks attempted to wipe out the Armenians, the oldest Christian nation, which adopted Christianity twelve years before the Edict of Milan. On this solemn anniversary, it is worth recalling the great aid European and American Christians and Jews gave the Armenians. This legacy should lead us to not remain silent in the face of today’s extermination of Middle Eastern Christians and fight the politically convenient yet disturbing tendency to deny that what happened in the Ottoman Empire a century ago was genocide.For centuries, the Armenians lived in relative peace in the Ottoman Empire. The Koran’s stance towards non-Christians is inconsistent. At some points, it advocates the persecution of all non-Muslims (kaffirs), but in others it advocates tolerance for Christians and Jews, as they are “peoples of the Book.” The Ottomans applied the latter passages with regards to the followers of Abrahamic religions in its millet system, which gave religious minorities self-rule. Continue Reading »

In Belgium, Two Types of Bishops

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For at least half a century, the revival of Catholicism in its traditional heartlands has been a pastoral priority for the Church. In this regard, Belgium is an instructive case study. For decades, it was famed for theological adventurousness while parishes and seminaries emptied at a dizzying pace. However, during the primacy of Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard since 2010, priestly vocations there have surged and the Church has emerged out of the catacombs. He has drastically broken with recent Catholic history in his country. Now some ask: Is his style of leadership the remedy for Western de-Christianization? Continue Reading »

The Statute of Kalisz’s Great Legacy

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During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Christian rulers across Europe east and west persecuted and expelled Jews. While the papacy had denounced blood libel rumors, Christians from England to Crimea abused their Jewish neighbors, sometimes blaming them for the Black Death. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed in the Fourth Lateran Council that Jews were to wear special clothing distinguishing them from Gentiles, and were to be segregated in ghettoes. In 1492, Queen Isabella the Catholic of Castile expelled the Jews from Spain. Seven hundred and fifty years ago today, the duke of Greater Poland, Boleslaw the Pious, issued one of the great exceptions to this pattern of persecution: the Statute of Kalisz. Continue Reading »

Wilm Hosenfeld: Warsaw’s Quiet Resister

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Seventy years ago, the inhabitants of Warsaw boldly rose against their Nazi oppressors. The Warsaw Uprising lasted sixty-three days, defying all expectations. Yet at the war’s end, the Polish capital suffered more damage than any other city during World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 85 percent its buildings were destroyed, while only 400,000 residents out of a prewar population of 1.3 million (including only 11,500 of 360,000 Jews) survived. In the orgy of cruelty that was the occupation of Warsaw, one German officer—Captain Wilm Hosenfeld—acted heroically. Continue Reading »

Is Spain Regaining Its Faith?

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Like Quebec, Ireland, or Boston, Spain has epitomized the fading of Catholic faith. In the twentieth century, religious practice in Spain fell sharply, especially as the country transitioned to democracy and resentment of the Church’s support for Franco’s dictatorship surfaced. Continue Reading »

Pius Against the Oppressors

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Pope Pius XI, fearless enemy of totalitarian ideologies and defender of Christian truth, died seventy-five years ago today. A champion of humanity before the forces of oppression, he remains largely, unjustly, forgotten. Few leaders were such scourges of Bolshevism as Pius XI. He first began to detest Communism in 1920, when he was the apostolic nuncio to Poland. That year, the Polish Army miraculously defeated the Soviet Union at the Battle of Warsaw. Most diplomats had fled Warsaw in a cowardly panic, incorrectly predicting a Bolshevik victory. The future pope was an exception. A true pastor, he refused to leave his faithful at a trying time and gave them spiritual support as they fought the Soviets. This forged a strong mutual friendship between Pius XI and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, pre-war Poland’s leader and military genius. Continue Reading »

Eastern Europe’s Christian Reawakening

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In Hungary, Croatia, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, a pro-family, pro-life revolution and a rediscovery of Christian roots is occurring. While few in the American media have noticed, this trend should challenge those who simply lament Europe’s moral malaise. Unnoticed in the shadow of a secularized west, religion’s public role has been growing in the east since the collapse of communism. . . . Continue Reading »