Mit Brennender Sorge: An Exegesis on the Encyclical to the Third Reich


  • Alexandra Valdez



Spring 2008, humanities, history, theology


Throughout the 1930s, the ascendance of the Nazi regime not only diminished the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, but alos directly countered fundamental Catholic doctrines. In face of the mounting atrocities of the German government, Pope Pius XI, with the help of Eugenio Pacelli, nuncio to Germany, and German Bishop Michael Faulhaber, in an unprecedented outreach to the entire German faithful, issued the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge. Appealing particularly to the youth and the laity, the encyclical challenged Germans to use conscience as a final resort in assessing the validity of a religious institution or political movement. In its address to the German people, Mit Brennender Sorge reflected the delicacy of the relationship between the Holy See and the Nazi regime by not referencing any person, party, or organization specifically. Nevertheless, the purpose and the timeliness of the encyclical was lost on few, partially dispelling the widespread belief that the Catholic Church turned a blind eye to the Third Reich.

Author Biography

Alexandra Valdez

Alexandra Valdez, a native of Topeka, Kansas, is currently in the throes of her senior year at Boston College, planning to graduate with a B.A. in History and concentrations in Philosophy and German Studies. This work was her final project for a course taken at the Catholic University in Eichstaett, Germany entitled "The Catholic Church and National Socialism: 1933-1939." She is exploring the experiences of Catholic Youth under Nazism in her Senior Scholars Project. After graduation, she hopes to return to Germany to conduct research at the University of Heidelberg before returning to the States to earn a doctorate in History.




How to Cite

Valdez, A. (2008). Mit Brennender Sorge: An Exegesis on the Encyclical to the Third Reich. Elements, 6(1).