Red Scare, Black Terror
Or, what Karlheinz Drescher did not say in his book God and the Fascists regarding the Vatican’s complicity in abetting and aiding the rise of contemporary fascism, or direct and indirect involvement in “the Black Terror”. It needs to be said because it is still relevant to what is going down today.
You may not even be familiar with the phrase “Black Terror”. It was a phrase used to describe right-wing, nationalist, or fascist terrorism that became rampant after the First World War. Presumably it was called such because of the penchant of the fascist legions for black uniforms, apparently in mock imitation of the Jesuit Order. If you haven’t heard the phrase “Black Terror”, it’s because there has been a concerted effort to gloss over it and cover it up, which continues to this day.
Drescher’s incendiary book on Vatican complicity in the Black Terror goes a long way in uncovering some of the “root causes” of the fascist terror — those “root causes” of terrorism generally that we are discouraged from scrutinising too closely. It caused a storm of controversy when it was first published in Germany in 1965, and has only lately become available in English.
I’ve spent the last few days almost constantly with Drescher’s book, checking and double-checking his evidence and his sources for Church complicity in the Black Terror (Drescher himself doesn’t use the phrase “Black Terror”). Some of Drescher’s evidence (who was himself a disillusioned Catholic) can be considered ambiguous, but most of it is not. It goes a long way in clarifying some of the more puzzling aspects of fascism that have persistently perplexed scholars. Nor is it of mere historical interest, as these influences continue in various ways presently as well — recent scandals in the Vatican Bank (still in the news), the exposure of the “shadow government” called the P2 Lodge (Propaganda Due) in Italy and its involvement in possible “false flag” operations (and its possible connections with other “shadow governments” in the world) or, for that matter, trying to put Anders Behring Breivik’s neo-nazi massacre in Norway in an intelligible context.
Drescher’s book goes a long way in demystifying some of the more riddling aspects of fascism and, indeed, the history of the last century up to today. If he is right, then much of what we understand of that history is wrong, or has been deliberately suppressed. Moreover, it is now coming to the public’s attention that the “ratlines” that allowed notorious war criminals to escape justice after the Second World War, to South America and elsewhere, was organised by leading Catholic clerics within the Vatican itself.
Why? Why did the Vatican make this pact with the Devil? — The Lateran Pact (1929) with Mussolini or the Reichskonkordat (1933) with the still very young Nazi Regime in Germany? Or, to lend active support to the fascist Falange in the Spanish Civil War against the Republic?; or to aid and abet the depraved and brutal Ustase movement in Croatia? In fact, the Ustase was so primitive and brutal in its extermination of Orthodox Christian Serbs and Jews that even the Nazis, hardly sentimental about such things themselves, were appalled by Ustase brutality. Leading clerics in Croatia (Franciscans!) not only encouraged the massacres, but were actively involved in the slaughter. Some of the worst war criminals were leading clerics. As one Italian Parliamentarian (Laura Diaz) stated after the war: “The Pope’s hands dripped with blood”.
Drescher states that the Vatican under Pius XI and Pius XII, at least, made common cause with the fascists, and countenanced (even encouraged) the Black Terror, in order to preserve and protect the “interests” of the institutional Church — for reasons of self-preservation against what it saw as the principal threat, “godless Bolshevism” which had become the Red Scare after the Russian Revoluion. To this end, even certain clerics identified with fascism, and in the early twenties in Italy, at least, “clerical fascism” became a term to describe Catholic clerics who identified and aided the fascist cause, or who actively sought to create a synthesis of National Socialism and Roman Catholicism (as, for example, Father Jozef Tiso in Slovakia). Such a “synthesis” would certainly be considered heresy. So, why wasn’t it denounced by the Vatican as such and its advocates excommunicated from the Church? In fact, the phrase “Christofascism” is not of recent vintage. It was first coined by Dorothee Sölle in 1970 to describe the alliance of institutionalised Christianity with totalitarian ideology and with “imperialistic attitudes”.
This “imperialistic attitude”, as Sölle puts it, is more to the point than portrayals of the Church as either reluctant collaborators with fascism for “defensive” reasons (against “godless Bolshevism”) or even as heroic resisters against fascism. True, many lower clergy and lay Catholics distinguished themselves through heroic defiance and resistance to Nazism and fascism, and paid the ultimate price for their resistance. But they did so as individuals of conscience, and not as representatives of the Catholic Church or the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In fact, the Catholic Church abandoned them to their fate — perhaps even welcoming their purging as clergy tainted by secularism or “Bolshevism”. And so hundreds, even thousands, of lower ranking clerics, especially those who had worked with the poor, were abandoned to fascist execution squads, especially in Spain and Poland. In Poland alone, some 2,400 Catholic priests were executed by Nazi death squads.
Apparently, lower-ranking clerics (especially anti-fascist ones) were not part of the “interests of the Church” and were not covered by the Concordat.
Of course, the Vatican portrayed all this as a “defensive” struggle, even an existential struggle — including Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia! The Vatican provided diplomatic and propaganda cover for the invasion, presumably to remain in the Duce’s good books, but also for reasons of cupidity — hopes to incorporate Abyssinia into the “universal Church” militant and triumphant. And so Italian troops carried into Abyssinia portraits of the Madonna along with poison gas. “The cross follows the sword”.
“The cross follows the sword”. That principle pretty much sums up the unholy alliance of the Vatican with fascism and provides the justification for the Black Terror. The Vatican hoped to harness the fascist movement and the fascist armies to effect the Counter-Reformation and to restore the Holy Roman Empire. This Drescher did not say, but it follows from his own evidence. Counter-Reformation was the Church’s sole interest in aiding and abetting the fascist movement and the Black Terror.
Defense against “godless Bolshevism” was mainly propaganda cover for a greater ambition — to roll-back secularisation and destroy “modern rationalism” in all its forms. The Vatican welcomed fascism (“instrument of divine Providence”, “holy crusade”, “work of God”, etc, etc) in the hopes of seeing its “enemies” annihilated — liberalism, democracy, socialism, communism, “modern rationalism”. In broader terms, secularisation and secularism, and therewith also Protestantism. For it is also a peculiar fact that, after Franco’s forces seized power in Spain, the Church had all Protestant Churches shut down and, moreover, had all Bibles confiscated!
“Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly were now banned again in Spain; literature, film, and radio were massively censored; all parties apart from the Fascist Falange were banned, all non-Catholic religious faiths suppressed, and all Protestant churches and schools closed. Catholicism became the state religion; the remarkable thing here is that all the Bibles disappeared in the rural districts. The police confiscated one hundred thousand copies in Madrid. Bibles were simply taken at borders. In the last year before the civil war, the constantly increasing sales figure had reached 211,000 copies” (pp. 83 – 84)
Apparently, the peasants might get “ideas” if allowed to read the Bible, or come to the conclusion that there was a glaring contradiction between Catholic faith and Catholic practice. In fact, the hypocrisy and self-contradictions in the Church had become systemic, as the then Pope Pius XI explained to a group of Spanish refugees,
— “It is said in recent days… that religion and the Catholic Church have shown themselves to be too weak and ineffective to counter this devastation and horror [The Black Terror]. But this is disproved by the words of Manzoni’s work: ‘One never needs to retreat into examples to justify the Church. It is sufficient to research its basic principles.'”
A quite remarkable rationalisation of duplicity and justification for holy terrorism.
So, here I will complete Drescher’s thoughts, of what his evidence for Vatican complicity in the rise of fascism and the Black Terror really points to, for it is still the rationale and motive used by Anders Behring Breivik for the Norwegian massacre as he himself declared in his “manifesto”.
The Vatican State is, after all, a state with worldly and geopolitical interests.
“Remember that you are called upon to reconquer for Christ the nation of his chosen that was wrested from him by others. If you dedicate yourself completely to this noble task and sacrifice your life for it, then praise the divine mercy that shines over the conscience with sublime light of the martyr’s halo. Your heroic courage, your readiness to be a martyr, leads to the ideal: For God and Fatherland!” — From Franco’s army regulations handbook
What the Church wanted from the fascists was the restoration of “the Kingdom of Jesus Christ” which, when decoded, means the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire — a theocracy. That is still the implicit and secret ambition of the Catholic Church — to effect and bring about a Counter-Reformation. In this it even has some willing dupes and stooges amongst the Protestants and even secularists, and this even despite the present Pope’s more noble reformist ambitions (and you can bet that there are very conservative and reactionary forces at work in the Vatican to sabotage him and cut short his tenure as Pope).
The Vatican’s ambitions are best expressed in its own words (which I reprint here verbatim from the Vatican’s own website)
“How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church.” [Their emphasis].
So, what did the Vatican (and at least Piux XI and Pius XII) hope to achieve by its “solemn accommodation”, as was said, with Nazism and fascism — with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and Pavelic amongst others?
Firstly, rolling back the Modern Era in its entirety under the banner of “anti-communism”, but which was, in fact and consistent with the evidence, code for “modern rationalism” and “secularism”, for the Vatican also longed for the destruction of liberalism, democracy, socialism, and Protestantism too, (all portrayed as “Anti-Christ”) and the re-establishment of the “Kingdom of Jesus Christ”, otherwise known as “Holy Roman Empire”.
Secondly, the Vatican hoped to harness the fascist movement and its armies for the destruction of the USSR, as well as the Orthodox Church, and Russia’s forcible incorporation into the “universal Church militant and triumphant” as an old saying goes. To this end, it sanctioned the massacres of the Orthodox Serbs and Jews in the Balkans by the Catholic Ustase, in which even clerics participated in the most brutal, barbarous, and depraved manner. Some 700,000 Orthodox Serbs were massacred by the Ustase, which conflict has not even ended to this day. “Anti-communism” does not explain this. The Vatican — or at least elements within the Vatican — wanted the destruction of the Orthodox Church in the East, and the destruction of the Protestant Churches in the West. To this end, it even described the fascists as its “loyal sons” or “instruments of divine Providence”! The fascist Hlinka Guard in Slovakia was even named after a Catholic Prelate, Fr. Andrej Hlinka.
Thirdly, when it became apparent that the fascist cause was lost, elements within the Vatican organised the “ratlines” to help notorious war criminals and its “loyal sons” to escape to other jurisdictions, notably South America, and began scripting revisionist histories of the Church’s involvement in the Black Terror, which is perhaps only now coming to light.
Why do I mention any of this? Because there is not much of a difference between this “Christofascism” and what is now called “Islamofascism”. In fact, religion doesn’t really explain any of this — or at least much of this. Religion did not determine whether men and women put up heroic resistance to fascism or whether they became fascist or terrorist. It’s not religion that causes this, it’s something else entirely — something within, some inner quality, that ultimately is decisive and for which religion becomes merely a mask, in which even the “powers of darkness” come disguised as “Christian love”. What’s behind all this if not just naked “will to power”?
Or perhaps a very misguided and perverse — even demonic — understanding of the conditions necessary for human unity and the meaning of “integration”? I tend to think it is this more than anything — an inner ideal that becomes perversely expressed as the totalitarian idea.
Nor has the totalitarian idea been abandoned yet, despite its miserable and wretched failure to date — the oceans of blood and fields of destruction that have proved it’s failure, whether as communist totalitarianism or fascist totalitarianism (or for that matter clerical totalitarianism and cupidity that comes disguised as “Christian love” or in other forms — Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, etc).
Here in Canada, a group called “Tribute to Liberty” wants to erect a controversial monument to the Victims of Communism in the nation’s capital. It seems pretty selective in its choice of worthy victims of the totalitarian idea. I object. I’ld have no objections if it were reconsidered as a monument to the Victims of Totalitarianism. But its bias in this respect seems all too blatant, which makes mockery of its claim to be a “tribute to liberty”.
To discover the “roots of fascism” or totalitarianism more generally in economics, politics, religion or psychology is only part of it. Behind all this there seems to be a good — the ideal of unity — ill-conceived and even more badly (and evilly) implemented. Today, the totalitarian idea of global capital (neoliberalism or economism) is yet another competing totalitarian idea. The Islamicists have their own totalitarian idea. But behind the frequent official Vatican denunciations of capitalism there is probably a recognition that the capitalist totalitarian idea is in direct competition with the Catholic Church’s own totalitarian idea — Counter-Reformation and the longed for restoration of the Holy Roman Empire.