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Religion: Vatican and Racism

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Continuing the Aryanization of Italy, the Italian Government last month decreed : that Italians may no longer marry non-Aryans; that Italian civil and military officials may not marry foreigners; that other Italians may marry foreigners only with permission of the Ministry of the Interior. These decrees incensed the Holy See. In practice the number of marriages involved is small; but in theory the laws violate the 1929 concordat between Church and State. By that concordat. Italy recognizes the validity of all marriages contracted in Roman Catholic churches.

Last week the Vatican Osservatore Romano pointed out that, “by the rights that God Himself conferred, which the Church grants to all her children without discrimination,” the Church holds it her mission to sanctify marriages—including those between Catholics of different races —which are valid under canon law. The Osservatore revealed that before the Italian decrees were published “the august person of the Holy Father himself intervened directly with two paternal letters, one addressed to the head of the Government, the other to the King-Emperor.” Last week Pius XI presumably had no reply from Mussolini. King Vittorio Emanuele, however, wrote him promising “the greatest consideration” for his views.

The question of racism, abhorrent to the international and supranational views of Catholicism, has lately been much on the Pope’s mind. There are rumors that he will soon issue an encyclical denouncing racism as a heresy; that a Catholic organization will be launched to combat anti-Semitism throughout the world. The extent to which racism is an issue between the Church and Italy became evident in a sermon preached last fortnight by Italy’s famed “Fascist” Cardinal, Archbishop Alfred Ildephonso Schuster of Milan. A lean, ascetic Benedictine, Cardinal Schuster has been spoken of as Mussolini’s candidate for the next Pope. He has repeatedly blessed Fascism’s achievements, such as carrying “to triumph the Cross of Christ” in Ethiopia. But in his sermon, published last week in Milan’s Catholic daily, Italia, Cardinal Schuster denounced Mussolini’s racist policy as “a kind of heresy . . . an international danger no less than that of Bolshevism itself.” Said he: “This Nordic philosophy, which has become theosophy and policy at the same time, does it not perhaps constitute a forge upon which are formed the most murderous weapons for war to come?”

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