There’s a very interesting article on
MercatorNet about a Nazi attempt to smear the Catholic Church in Germany with
paedophilia in 1937. Italian sociologist Massiomo Introvigne says that Hitler’s
henchman Joseph Goebbels, a master of propaganda, used some admitted cases of
paedophilia amongst priests to launch a vitriolic attack upon the Church. The
Nazis were furious that Pope Pius XI had denounced their ideology in a searing
encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge.

“Unfortunately it’s not a matter of
individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural
history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and
disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s
no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the
justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that
many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

Sound familiar?

Introvigne cites it as an example of “moral
panic”, an attempt to take a small problem and exaggerate it into a
societal-wide emergency. In the end, however, the campaign did not succeed:

effort to discredit the Catholic Church on an international scale through
accusations of immorality and pedophilia among priests, however, did not
succeed… The perfidy of the campaign of Goebbels aroused more indignation than
the eventual guilt of some religious. The father of all moral panics in the
area of pedophile priests blew up in the hands of the Nazi propagandists who
had tried to organize it.


Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.