FYI to visit our other websites please click on the profiles and here you will embark upon a Journey of a Lifetime.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

rance of Racial Discrimination in the Infliction of the Death Penalty, 35 Santa Clara L. Rev. 433 (1995).

This is the html version of the file
G o o g l e automatically generates html versions of documents as we crawl the web.
To link to or bookmark this page, use the following url:

Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content.
These search terms have been highlighted: texas prosecutorial misconduct against welfare recipients



Lecture presented by Stephen B. Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and J. Skelly Wright Fellow at Yale Law School, at the Notre Dame Law School on February 15, 1996, and published in Volume 71, Notre Dame Law Review, page 845 (1996).

Copyright (c) 1996 University of Notre Dame; Stephen B. Bright

The use of capital punishment in America today presents a number of fundamental moral issues about our society and our system of justice. It is fitting that we address those issues here at Notre Dame Law School, which has a well-deserved reputation for raising moral issues, for a deep commitment to justice, and for responding to human needs with compassion.

Our society and the legal professional are failing to meet the need for legal services of many of those most desperately in need of such services in cases involving the highest stake, life itself. There are, of course, urgent needs in other areas besides capital punishment. Those accused of crimes which do not carry the death penalty, the poor, people of color, homeless people, people with mental impairments, people who are HIV positive, people in prisons and jails and many others are without lawyers to represent them in cases which involve their freedom, their shelter, their survival.

Those needs will be greater when you graduate from law school than they are today. But there could be fewer jobs and less resources for those who respond. And, as you know, you will be saddled with enormous debts. This presents a challenge, but it should not deter you from responding. Indeed, my message to you is that you have no choice except to respond Ä the needs and the times demand it.

Let's examine the needs and how individuals and institutions may respond to them.

Children and the poor are going to have a tremendous need for your services. The states are increasingly passing so-called welfare reform measures and Congress and the President are about to follow suit with a measure that will "end welfare as we know it." The result of these "reforms" will be to put thousands of children on heating grates to live.

This message to "get a job or starve" comes even as America's most prosperous companies are "down-sizing" Ä laying off thousands of workers who dedicated their lives to their companies. You will be practicing law in a world in which your fellow human beings are increasingly looked upon by the corporate structure and the government as disposable, as Charles Reich eloquently describes in his book, Opposing the System.1 A person can work hard all her life and suddenly, one day, lose her job, her health insurance, her home and everything Ä not because she did anything wrong, but because the company does not need her any more. Many of those who lose their jobs in this manner have little prospect of finding employment elsewhere.

Many of those growing up in our country today have little chance of obtaining a job because we have not met the promise of providing a quality education for all of our children. Of course, a quality education is essential for a job in today's world. Silicon Valley did not appear by coincidence in California. The opportunities offered there are the sweet fruit harvested as a result of the country's best system of higher education. But now that system is being raided to pay for unnecessary prisons. California now spends more money on its prison system than on its university system.

As a result of the denial of education, opportunity and even hope for so many of our children and their parents, the choice for many by age sixteen is not the one you had Ä which college to attend, what career to pursue. It is a choice between trying to find a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant or getting in on the material wealth of the American dream through the only business available, the selling of illegal drugs.

As was pointed out recently by Steven Duke and Richard St. John:

Those who would eviscerate welfare contend that welfare recipients need the threat of severe deprivation to motivate them to seek a job. But all the evidence proves that there are no jobs for most of the people now on welfare . . . . A recent study of fastfood workers found 14 applicants for every opening.

There is another glaring gap in the reasoning of those who want to rescind the war on poverty: They assume that the only alternative a welfare recipient has is legitimate work. This overlooks the omnipresent alternative of crime.2

But America's children can still count on their government to fulfill one promise. Both the federal and state governments are committed to spend up to $30,000 a year on every child in the United States. All that child must do to obtain this government support is to try to medicate his depression or despair with illegal drugs or commit some other crime. The state and federal governments are absolutely committed to having a maximum security prison cell for any child who commits a crime Ä especially if that child is a person of color.

Some of those accused of crimes will be entered in a lottery Ä a lottery rigged by race and poverty. Out of thousands eligible, about 250 will be condemned to be strapped down and shot, hung, gassed, electrocuted or injected with lethal drugs.

Other industrialized nations have abandoned the death penalty. Recently the Constitutional Court of South Africa unanimously found the death penalty to be cruel, unusual and degrading punishment under that country's constitution.3 But we continue to sentence people to death in the United States.

I was in a Georgia courtroom last fall defending an African American facing the death penalty for a crime committed against a white person. We were trying to persuade the judge to remove the Confederate battle flag from the courtroom Ä it is a part of the Georgia state flag. The flag was adopted in defiance of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education4 that schools be integrated.5 We were also asking the court to bar the state from seeking the death penalty against my client because of racial discrimination in the infliction of the death penalty in Georgia.

As we were litigating those motions, I was struck by several thoughts. The Olympic games are coming to Georgia next year. Georgia, like South Africa, has a long history of apartheid, racial oppression and racial violence. Yet now South Africa has moved ahead, it has joined the rest of the civilized world in abandoning capital punishment. But Georgia is still flying the Confederate battle flag in its courtrooms and burning people up in its electric chair while others celebrate their deaths outside.

But the problems are not limited to Georgia. The sad fact is that, increasingly, our state and federal governments are offering the young not hope, opportunity and equality, but the threat of incarceration and execution. Last summer, President Clinton began running television advertisements proclaiming his support for the death penalty and tough sentencing laws. In 1994, he signed into law a crime bill providing for the death penalty for fifty federal crimes.

The federal death penalty was brought back in 1988. Since that time the Justice Department has approved fifty-four capital prosecutions. All but nine have been against people of color. During the Clinton administration, Attorney General Reno has approved twenty-seven capital prosecutions. Twenty were against African Americans. Yet despite this sorry record, even more capital crimes were adopted last year.

In addition to providing for more death, state and federal governments pass new measures each year to provide for more incarceration. Longer prison sentences, mandatory minimum sentences, unreasonable and inflexible sentencing guidelines and other legislation such as "three strikes and you're out" result in more people serving longer periods of time behind bars at enormous cost. The United States now imprisons more people than ever before Ä over 1.5 million in both prisons and jails Ä and has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.6 To keep up with the growth in prison population will require the construction of 1,725 new prison beds each week.

And legislatures are moving to make life even more unbearable for those crowded into prisons and jails. Alabama has brought back the chain gang.7 Its only purpose is degradation and humiliation of human beings for political points. A person cannot get much work done chained to another person. Alabama has also returned to the practice of having prisoners stand in the hot Alabama sun for ten hours a day breaking rocks with ten-pound sledge hammers.8 This activity serves no practical purpose Ä there is no need for the crushed rock Ä but apparently it serves political purposes.

Not long ago such barbarism would be seen as just another aberrational act by Alabama. Today, it starts a national trend. Arizona and Florida have already reinstated the chain gang and other states are contemplating it as well. And the Alabama legislature, continuing its role as the trend setter, is now considering a bill to return to caning as punishment for crime. Children even as young as thirteen are being prosecuted as adults. Not just in Alabama, where fourteen and fifteen year old children are serving sentences of life imprisonment without any possibility of parole, but all across the land.

As prisons and jails become even more overcrowded, conditions deteriorate. Yet legislation proposed in the United States Congress would restrict the ability of federal courts to provide relief for unconstitutional conditions in prisons.9 This legislation is based on irresponsible assertions by the National Association of Attorneys General and members of Congress that prisoner lawsuits are about nothing more important than soggy sandwiches or being deprived of watching football games on television or the use of electronic games.

Nothing is said about the unconscionable degradation and violence in America's prisons that was corrected only by order of federal courts in response to suits brought by prisoners. Judge Frank Johnson ordered the correction of barbaric conditions in Alabama's prisons twenty years ago. Judge Johnson found "horrendous" overcrowding with inmates sleeping on mattresses in the hallways and next to urinals; prisons were "overrun with roaches, flies, mosquitoes, and other vermin"; mentally disturbed inmates were "dispersed throughout the prison population without receiving treatment"; and robbery, rape, extortion, theft and assault were "everyday occurrences" among the general inmate population.10

Prisons in thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have been put under some form of court supervision because of the failure of state officials to operate constitutional facilities. For example, a federal judge found that residents of the California State Prison at San Quentin were "regarded and treated as caged animals, not human beings."11 At a prison in Pendleton, Indiana, the federal court found that inmates were shackled spread- eagle to metal bed frames for up to two and a half days at a time and "frequently denied the right to use the toilet and had to lie in their own filth."12 At the Southern Center for Human Rights, our docket of suits on behalf of prisoners is not about melting ice cream, but about the most fundamental human rights of people, such as the right to safety and security, to basic medical and mental health care.

It is the threat of punishment and degradation, not the promise of hope and opportunity, that we hold out to children who have the misfortune to be born into poverty, the victims of brutal racism, those who have the misfortune to be born into dysfunctional families, those who are the victims of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and those who have the misfortune to be born with a deficit in intellectual functioning or some other mental impairment.

One would think that if all we hold out to these children is a prison cell, the chain gang and the electric chair, at least we could provide a little process Ä fair procedure with a good lawyer Ä before we take away their lives or freedom and subject them to such suffering and degradation for the suffering and degradation they caused others. And one would think that, at the very least, we would make sure that racial prejudice, which already puts so many at such a disadvantage, would not influence the severity of their punishment. But both fair procedures and the access to courts through competent and experienced counsel are being taken away even from those with the most desperate needs of all, those facing the executioner. And the courts are completely indifferent to the prominent role that race plays in the criminal justice system.

Since 1977, Chief Justice Rehnquist has waged a relentless war on the once great Writ of Habeas Corpus, which the Supreme Court described over thirty years ago as "the common law world's 'freedom writ."'13 It gives a person the right to go into federal court and assert that he or she has been imprisoned in violation of the Constitution. It gives a life-tenure federal judge the power, where there has been a constitutional violation, not to let the defendant go free, but to require the state to provide a new and fair trial. The Supreme Court once said "there is no higher duty than to maintain it unimpaired."14

But the Supreme Court under the leadership of Justice Rehnquist Ä later Chief Justice Rehnquist Ä has placed all manner of technicalities in the way of vindication of violations of the Bill of Rights.15 And now Congress and the President are poised to finish off the Writ. The Anti-Terrorism Bill that has passed the Senate includes provisions which would limit even further the ability of federal judges to set aside an illegally obtained death sentence.16 It will impose time limits that would treat capital cases like small claims cases.

This legislation would leave enforcement of the Bill of Rights primarily to state court judges. This sounds reasonable, but it overlooks that state court judges in all but a handful of states must stand for election.17 Those judges are not independent. In high publicity, high profile cases, enforcing the law may cost them their jobs. In the present political climate, an elected judge who grants relief in a capital case signs his or her own political death warrant. It has happened in California. Three justices of the state supreme court were swept from office because of their votes in capital cases.18 It happened in Mississippi.19 It has happened in other places, but often it does not happen because judges pay more attention to the next election than to the law in making their rulings.

There was an election last year for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Stephen W. Mansfield ran for a seat on the court on a three-plank platform: greater use of the death penalty, greater use of the harmless error doctrine, and fines for lawyers who file "frivolous appeals" in death penalty cases.20 Mansfield challenged an incumbent, a former prosecutor, who had served for twelve years on the court. Before the election, it was revealed that Mansfield had been a member of the Texas bar only a couple of years, that he had been fined for practicing law without a license in Florida, that he had almost no criminal law experience.21 Nevertheless, Mansfield won the election. The Texas Lawyer aptly described him after his election as an "unqualified success."22

Of course the most fundamental element of a fair process is the right to counsel. Because without a lawyer, a person untrained in the law has no idea what his rights are or how to assert them. I am sure that many of you were inspired to go to law school, as I was, by Anthony Lewis' marvelous book, Gideon's Trumpet. It is the story of Clarence Earl Gideon who was convicted in Florida and then filed his own handwritten petition with the United States Supreme Court saying it just was not fair that he did not have a lawyer at his trial. This ultimately led to the case of Gideon v. Wainwright,23 which held that the poor person accused of a felony is entitled to a lawyer. Anthony Lewis observed after the decision:

It will be an enormous task to bring to life the dream of Gideon v. Wainwright Ä the dream of a vast, diverse country in which every person charged with a crime will be capably defended, no matter what his economic circumstances, and in which the lawyer representing him will do so proudly, without resentment at an unfair burden, sure of the support needed to make an adequate defense.24

Over thirty years after Gideon was decided, this dream has not been realized. There is no public defender office in many jurisdictions; in some jurisdictions, the indigent defense work is assigned to the lowest bidder.25 It was recently discovered that in Putnam County, Georgia, the local sheriff appointed lawyers to the cases of poor defendants and refused to appoint lawyers who would not agree to the plea dispositions proposed by the sheriff.26

Congress cut off all funding in the fall of 1995 for a very modest program to provide some measure of justice to those facing the death penalty Ä the post-conviction defender organizations or resource centers that had existed in twenty states. The resource centers, created in 1987, were a relatively small program for the size of the problem. All together they had about 200 lawyers to deal with the post-conviction representation of over 3,000 people condemned to death. But the young lawyers who were at the resource centers during their eight years of existence proved what a difference you can make if you tackle a problem, work hard at it, build an expertise and are committed to justice.

Some of the resource center attorneys were right out of law school. They were not paid very much by the prevailing standards of the legal profession. But after two or three years, those young lawyers had mastered the complex areas of criminal law, the sub-specialty of capital punishment law, and the procedural maze of state and federal post-conviction law. Besides building their own expertise and applying it, they recruited lawyers from firms to provide pro bono representation. Many lawyers responded to the call. And they, working with the resource center lawyers, provided the highest quality of representation.

And they made a difference. Walter McMillian, who spent six years on Alabama's death row, is a free man today because the Alabama Resource Center proved that he was innocent of the murder for which he was condemned to die.27 Lloyd Schlup is alive today because the resource center in Missouri established his innocence.28 Curtis Lee Kyles is alive today because the resource center in Louisiana marshalled evidence of his innocence.29

In addition, these young lawyers, and the pro bono attorneys with whom they worked, exposed constitutional violations in other cases Ä violations such as failure to disclose exculpatory evidence, racial discrimination, and prosecutorial misconduct. These are not technicalities. These are constitutional violations that go to the very integrity and reliability of the system.

And because these lawyers and these programs made a difference, they came under attack by the National Association of Attorneys General, led by the new Attorney General of South Carolina who ran on a promise to replace the state's electric chair with an electric sofa so that more people could be executed at one time.30 Apparently the attorneys general consider it a bad reflection on our criminal justice system that innocent people are being sentenced to death. The House and the Senate responded by cutting off all funding last fall.

Those who depend upon government funding must recognize that a reality of our times is that if they are effective in helping the poor or people of color, there is a very substantial risk that the government will take away or reduce the funding or, as with the federal Legal Services Corporation, which makes legal assistance available to the poor in civil cases, interfere with their ability to help their clients by placing restrictions on their practices. Of course, that has always been the case in many states; the only programs that received funding were the ones that were completely ineffective. But at least the federal government could be counted on for some programs and the federal courts for some measure of justice that could not be obtained in the state courts. But now there is no commitment to access to the courts or to fairness on the part of our national leadership in either party.

The result is that many who most need legal assistance are without it. Many of the 3,000 men, women and children on death rows throughout the country are without counsel. Many of the lawyers from the capital resource centers who would have provided representation have gone to other jobs in other states. This leaves two choices. One is the states can execute the condemned without providing counsel for the post-conviction stages of review. The Supreme Court has held there is no right to counsel in state post-conviction proceedings.31 The other choice is to assign a lawyer who knows nothing about post- conviction practice and pay the lawyer a token amount for providing the appearance of some process. Alabama compensates lawyers $600 for handling post-conviction representation. An attorney who devotes the necessary time will be earning less than ten cents an hour. But the fees in Alabama are better than in Georgia, Mississippi and some other states. They pay nothing.

If the states do provide counsel, we can expect to see the same quality of representation during post-conviction that we see at trial. And the quality of representation at trial in capital cases has been a disgrace to the legal profession.32 For example, judges in Houston, Texas have often appointed to defend capital and other criminal cases a lawyer who occasionally falls asleep during trial.33 When a defendant in a capital case there once complained about his lawyer sleeping, the judge responded that the Constitution guarantees the accused a lawyer, but it does not guarantee that the lawyer must be awake.34 The trial of a woman facing the death penalty in Alabama had to be suspended for a day because the lawyer appointed to defend her was too drunk to go forward.35 The judge sent him to jail for a day to dry out and then produced both the client and lawyer from jail and resumed the trial. She was sentenced to death.

Last month, I handled a post-conviction proceeding in a capital case in Georgia in which the court-appointed lawyers did not make one objection during the entire trial, which lasted only one and a half days.36 Only one motion was filed prior to trial. One of the attorneys appointed to defend the accused had never heard of two important Supreme Court decisions in Georgia capital cases, Furman v. Georgia37 and Gregg v. Georgia,38 which provide the structure for much of the Eighth Amendment law governing capital trials. Another lawyer who has handled a number of criminal and capital cases in Georgia was asked to name all of the criminal law decisions of which he was aware. He could answer only Miranda and Dred Scott.39

The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a conviction and death sentence in a case after receiving a brief from the lawyer that was only one page long.40 The lawyer did not show up for oral argument. One might have expected the Alabama Supreme Court Ä or the courts in the other cases I have described Ä to call a halt to proceedings where the lawyering was so bad and appoint new counsel, not only to protect the rights of the accused, but also so that the court could do its job. Do these courts care at all about justice? How can a court decide a capital case based on a one-page brief and without oral argument? But the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed without ever having adequate briefing or any argument. The client was eventually executed.

Poor people do not choose their lawyers. They are assigned lawyers by state court judges, many of whom are elected and are more concerned about the next election than the Bill of Rights. We must ask, is it morally right to assign a poor person a lawyer who does not know the law, who does not care enough to investigate, who is incapable of properly handling such a serious case, and then penalize the poor person for errors made by the lawyer?

Another great moral and legal issue that courts continue to ignore is the role that racial prejudice plays in deciding who dies. Edward Horsley was executed in Alabama's electric chair on February 16, 1996. He was the eleventh African American put to death by Alabama of the fourteen that have been executed since the Supreme Court allowed resumption of capital punishment in 1976. He and his codefendant were sentenced to death by all- white juries selected in Monroeville, Alabama.

Two African American men sentenced to death by an all-white jury in Utah were executed even though jurors discovered during a lunch recess a note which contained the words "Hang the Nigger's" [sic] and a drawing of a figure hanging on a gallows.41 No court, state or federal, even had a hearing on such questions as who wrote the note, what influence it had on the jurors, and how widely it was discussed by the jurors. William Henry Hance was executed in Georgia without any court holding a hearing on the use of racial slurs by jurors who decided his fate.42 The racial disparities in the infliction of the death penalty are undeniable,43 yet courts refuse even to hold hearings on such ugly racial incidents as I have described here.

But even if our system could provide the person facing the death penalty with a fair and impartial judge, a responsible prosecutor who was beyond political influences, a capable defense lawyer, and a jury which represented a fair cross-section of the community, it would not eliminate the discrimination and unfairness in the infliction of the death penalty. No procedure employed by the court during jury selection or trial can eliminate the centuries of racial prejudice and discrimination in our history. Beyond that, the task of deciding who should live and who should die is simply too enormous for our court system. And our courts do not function best when caught up in the politics and passions of the moment, which is almost always the case when a capital trial is taking place.

I am reasonably confident that this sad situation is only going to get worse because no one in a leadership position speaks out against it. That was not always the case. Over thirty years ago, the Attorney General of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy, observed, "the poor person accused of a crime has no lobby." And he did something about it. He, the Attorney General of the United States, became a lobby for the poor person. He found responsible leaders on Capitol Hill who responded to his call. Together they brought about passage of the Criminal Justice Act to give lawyers to poor people accused of crimes in the federal courts. One opportunity that will be open to you upon graduation is to work at one of the federal defender offices all across the country now in existence thanks to the leadership of Attorney General Kennedy. Attorney General Kennedy supported the Criminal Justice Act not because he was soft on crime Ä Robert Kennedy was a tough prosecutor Ä but because he believed in fairness. It was as simple as that.

But after the election of 1994, as the state attorneys general and politicians in both parties moved to take away funding for the resource centers Ä to remove the small fig leaf of fairness that did not begin to cover the injustices and inequities in the use of the death penalty Ä not a word of protest was heard from the White House or the Department of Justice.

Those of us who remember Robert Kennedy hoped that someone might at least say: "Wait, if we are going to have the death penalty, if we are going to kill our own people Ä even our children Ä at least we must give lawyers to those accused of crimes." And not just a stable of plug horses that would not be accepted by a decent glue factory, but real lawyers who know what they are doing. It is a matter of fairness. We hoped that someone might say: "Wait, we cannot gut the great Writ of Habeas Corpus. Life and liberty are too precious. Even in this material world, life and liberty should have the protection of the federal courts." Our country could have benefitted from a lesson in fairness and due process from the President or the Attorney General or some of the leaders in Congress.

Those are some of the challenges. What can we do about them?

It can be difficult to find a public interest job Ä not as hard as some think, but it is certainly more difficult than finding a job with a law firm. As I said earlier, there are no public defender offices in many jurisdictions where those accused of crimes have the greatest need for competent legal counsel. And it is getting harder. Many of the capital resource centers have closed. The civil legal services programs are also under attack for providing too much justice. They are being cut back and restrictions placed on their work. And of course you have those law school debts.

Law schools and human rights organizations must come to the rescue. The legal profession must respond to the challenge. And you as individuals must respond to the problems I have described.

A number of law schools have responded. The University of Texas Law School now has a capital punishment clinic which provides an outstanding experience for students and desperately needed help for lawyers defending capital cases in that state. The Capital Clearinghouse at the Washington and Lee College of Law has helped improve the quality of representation in Virginia. Loan forgiveness programs are making it possible for law school graduates to take jobs which pay very little but allow them to respond to desperate needs. Yale and New York University are among the leaders in providing full loan forgiveness for students who go into public interest careers. Law students at many institutions have created public interest foundations, through which those who have well paying jobs make contributions to enable other graduates to accept public interest jobs and pay their loans.

Our program, the Southern Center for Human Rights, has benefitted tremendously in the last six years because each year we have had a Skadden Fellow, a new law graduate whose salary and benefits were paid for by the fellowship foundation of the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Now in its seventh year, the Skadden program provides two-year fellowships for twenty-five law graduates. Thanks to that program, we have had three outstanding lawyers who would not have been with us otherwise. There are clients who are alive today who would be dead were it not for our Skadden Fellows. It is time for other firms to follow Skadden's lead.

Some people concerned about the death penalty created last year the Harry A. Blackmun Fellowship at our office. That fellowship is making it possible for us to put another recent law graduate in the field to respond to these desperate needs.

Judy Clarke, the federal public defender in Spokane, Washington, recently donated her fees for representing Susan Smith in South Carolina, $83,000, to the South Carolina Post-Conviction Defender Organization so it could establish a fellowship to provide representation for condemned inmates.44 This contribution was made by a public defender who is providing representation in the courts to poor people every day. Where is the rest of the legal profession? Lawyers have a monopoly on access to justice; they have a duty to see that it is not only available to those who can pay.

But what is also needed is the response of individuals who are willing to go where the needs are. The legal services offices that survive, the public defender offices that exist, and the various public interest law projects, like my office, are not going to offer you jobs a year before you graduate like the law firms do. The reason is we do not know if we will be cut back thirty percent or eliminated completely.

But those offices will need you at some point. Last year, two of my third-year students at Yale Law School were discouraged in January because they could not find public defender jobs. But by May they were calling for help in deciding between the three public defender offices that had made offers. Another recent graduate worked for a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta while he waited for his bar results and an opening at a public defender office. He passed the bar and will start practicing with the public defender office in Atlanta next month.

I also urge you to explore creating your own programs, your own non-profit public interest law projects Ä not offices where lawyers get rich, but places where people get justice. But to do that, you must settle for less in material rewards than what other lawyers are receiving for their work.

It is easy to lose perspective. Remember that it is no sacrifice to receive the same income as that received by teachers, farmers, workers on the assembly line and other good, decent working men and women who raise families and contribute to their communities. To the contrary, it is a great privilege to devote one's life to things that are important and about which you care passionately.

You who will someday graduate from law school have the opportunity to become what Martin Luther King, Jr., in one of his many great sermons, called "drum majors for justice." Dr. King described the drum major for justice as one who speaks the truth Ä no matter how unwelcome it may be and no matter how uncomfortable it may make the listener Ä and as one who gives his or her life to serving others: to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and Ä particularly important for lawyers Ä to visiting those who are in prison, and to loving and serving humanity.45 He described his goal as a drum major for justice: "I just want to be there in love and justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world."46

Follow the example of a young lawyer who graduated from Howard Law School, opened a practice in Baltimore and handled civil rights cases and became a great drum major for justice Ä Thurgood Marshall. Follow the example of a nun who ministered to the poor in the projects of New Orleans and on death row at Angola Ä Sister Helen Prejean.47

I offer my office as an example of what you can do only because it is the one I know something about and we have had some experience in surviving in hard times without much money. We have never received any government money. We must spread very thinly what little money we have to provide justice for those most in need of it. And that requires living a simple life, not letting a lot of material things clutter our existence.

We pay everyone the same, whether secretary, senior lawyer, or junior lawyer. Our annual salaries have been as low as $8,500. Now, everyone makes $23,000. You can live on this amount. I have lived on such a salary for the last thirteen years. But, of course, so have many other people in our society who work at jobs that are not nearly so interesting and fulfilling as what we do.

A law firm may pay one partner $600,000 or even more. At the Southern Center for Human Rights, that is the entire operating budget for a year for nine lawyers, three investigators, one paralegal, three administrative people and a number of law students. With that we provide representation in fifty capital cases and twenty-four cases challenging prison and jail conditions.

There are other possibilities. The new technology of today enables us to practice law from our homes with a computer, a modem, a printer, a telephone and a fax machine. It is possible to maintain very low overhead so you can charge reasonable fees for services or even barter, as William Kunstler often did with his neighbors.

Consider practicing law not in Washington, New York or the Bay Area, but in communities where there has never been a lawyer who would question the status quo, who would give African Americans the same representation as white people, who would give the poor the same representation as the rich. You can change that. Those communities are not hard to find. Get a map of any state in the Union. It will be full of them.

We live in a society where it is possible to isolate ourselves from the poverty, the racism, the injustices that affect the lives of so many people. The culture of becoming a lawyer is one in which there is almost overwhelming temptation to take the job that pays the most money to pay those debts; but then it is so easy to fall into a costly culture of BMWs, big houses, and summer homes. There is so much money available and so many good uses we can think of for it, that it is easy to give in to the twin evils of complacency and complicity.

I urge you to commit yourselves today not to do that. As Elie Wiesel said in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, "Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately."48 I have not had enough time to describe all the desperate needs, only some of what needs to be done to work toward finally realizing the promise of Clarence Earl Gideon's case.

Your time, your talents and your commitment are urgently needed. Let me give you an example of how much you are needed. Cornelius Singleton, a mentally retarded African American youth on death row in Alabama, went eight years without seeing the lawyer assigned to represent him in post-conviction proceedings. Can you imagine what it must be like to be on death row for eight years and not see a lawyer? Not to know whether you are going to be executed the next day, the next week, the next year? To have no idea what is even happening on your case? Do you see what a difference you could make if you had been Cornelius Singleton's lawyer? Just by going to see him, by counseling him, you would have provided a valuable service.

We cannot solve all the problems, but we can lend a helping hand and our professional skills to those who most need us. Like those who helped slaves escape to freedom as part of the underground railroad before the Civil War, we can help people reach safe passage, one at a time, from the injustices which threaten to destroy them.

And what a difference you can make to those individuals whom you help. Last summer, one of my clients, Tony Amadeo, who had been condemned to die by Georgia when he was only eighteen years old, but whose death sentence was set aside due to racial discrimination,49 graduated summa cum laude from Mercer University. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot make a difference as a lawyer.

And we can bear witness to the injustices we see until we shake our fellow citizens out of the indifference which we see about us.

I leave you with the challenge issued by Justice Thurgood Marshall, six months before he died, in accepting the Liberty Bell Award in Philadelphia. Justice Marshall was frail. He was in a wheelchair. But by the end of his remarks, it was observed that "his voice was as booming as [it had been] in those magnificent times when he argued before the Supreme Court."50 Justice Marshall said:

I wish I could say that racism and prejudice are only distant memories . . . and that liberty and equality were just around the bend. I wish I could say that America has come to appreciate diversity and to see and accept similarity. But as I look around, I see not a nation of unity but of division Ä Afro and white, indigenous and immigrant, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. . . .

Look around. Can't you see the tensions in Watts? Can't you feel the fear in Scarsdale? Can't you sense the alienation in Simi Valley? The despair in the South Bronx? The rage in Brooklyn?

We cannot play ostrich. Democracy cannot flourish among fear. Liberty cannot bloom among hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage. We must go against the prevailing wind. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. . . . We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education or hope. We must dissent from the poverty of vision and an absence of leadership. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better. Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences that divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison. Reach out; freedom lies just on the other side.51

That's the challenge. To continue the work which Justice Marshall so nobly advanced in his great career at the bar. Now it's your turn.

I hope to see you in the courts.

. Charles Reich, Opposing the System (1995).

. Steven B. Duke & Richard St. John, Less Welfare: More Crime, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 14, 1996, at B1.

. The State v. Makwanyane, Constl. Ct. of South Africa, June 6, 1995, reprinted in 16 Hum. Rts. L.J. 154 (1995).

. 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (holding that racial segregation in the public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause); see also Brown v. Board of Educ., 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955) (requiring that desegregation of the public schools proceed "with all deliberate speed").

. Coleman v. Miller, 885 F. Supp. 1561, 1569 (N.D. Ga. 1995) (finding that the flag was adopted "as a statement of defiance against federal desegregation mandates and an expression of anti-black feelings").

. 1,725 New Prisons Beds a Week; Biggest 1-Year Spurt in Inmate Population, Atlanta Const., Dec. 4, 1995, at 1A (reporting a Department of Justice announcement that there are 1.1 million inmates in prison and another 484,000 in jails, giving the United States an incarceration rate of 565 per 100,000, higher than even Russia, which had been the world leader).

. Rick Bragg, Chain Gangs to Return to Roads of Alabama, N.Y. Times, Mar. 26, 1995, at 16; Brent Staples, The Chain Gang Show, N.Y. Times Mag., Sept. 17, 1995, at 62.

. Alabama to Make Prisoners Break Rocks, N.Y. Times, July 29, 1995, at 5.

. Stop Turning Out Prisoners Act, H.R. 667, 104 Cong., 1st Sess. (1995). After some modification, the restrictions were adopted as the Prison Litigation Reform Act by the Congress as a rider to the Omnibus Rescission and Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-134, and signed into law by President Clinton on April 26, 1996.

. Pugh v. Locke, 406 F. Supp. 318, 322-27 (M.D. Ala. 1976), aff'd as modified, 559 F.2d 283 (5th Cir. 1977), rev'd in part on other grounds, 438 U.S. 781 (1978) (per curiam).

. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F. Supp. 1388, 1400 (N.D. Cal. 1984), aff'd in relevant part, 801 F.2d 1080 (9th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1069 (1987).

. French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1253 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 817 (1986). These are, of course, only a few of the many examples of unconscionable constitutional violations that could be found in America's prisons before they were corrected by federal lawsuits brought on behalf of prisoners. For an excellent and sobering account of conditions in the Mississippi State Pentitentiary over the decades before federal court intervention, see David M. Oshinski, "Worse than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (1996); see also Nils Christie, Crime Control as Industry: Toward GULAGS, Western Style? (1993) (a description of failures of the American prison system by an eminent Norwegian criminologist); Susan P. Sturm, The Legacy and Future of Corrections Litigation, 142 U. Pa. L. Rev. 639 (1993) (describing reforms accomplished through corrections litigation).

. Smith v. Bennett, 365 U.S. 708, 712 (1961).

. Id. at 713 (quoting Bowen v. Johnson, 306 U.S. 19, 26 (1939)).

. The Court has limited the availability of the Writ to vindicate constitutional rights by adopting strict rules of procedural default, see, e.g., Smith v. Murray, 477 U.S. 527, 533-36 (1986); Engle v. Isaacs, 456 U.S. 107, 130-34 (1982); Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 88-91 (1977); Timothy J. Foley, The New Arbitrariness: Procedural Default of Federal Habeas Claims in Capital Cases, 23 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 193 (1989); by excluding most Fourth Amendment claims from habeas corpus review, Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976); by requiring deference to fact finding by state court judges, see, e.g., Patton v. Yount, 467 U.S. 1025 (1984); Sumner v. Mata, 439 U.S. 539 (1981), after remand, 455 U.S. 591 (1982), after second remand, 464 U.S. 957 (1983); by making it more difficult for a petitioner to obtain an evidentiary hearing to prove a constitutional violation, Keeney v. Tamayo- Reyes, 504 U.S. 1 (1992); by adopting an extremely restrictive doctrine regarding the retroactivity of constitutional law, Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989); James S. Liebman, More than "Slightly Retro:" The Rehnquist Court's Rout of Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction in Teague v. Lane, 18 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 537 (1991); by reducing the harmless error standard for constitutional violations recognized in federal habeas review, Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619 (1993); and by restricting when a constitutional violation may be raised in a second habeas petition, McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467 (1991).

. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton on April 24, 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, requires deference by federal courts to decisions of state courts unless the decision is "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law," id. s 104(3); establishes a statute of limitation for the filing of habeas corpus petitions, id. s 101; further restricts when a federal court may conduct an evidentiary hearing, id. 104(4); and adds new barriers to hearing a successive habeas corpus petition, id. s 105; see David Cole, Destruction of the Habeas Safety Net, Legal Times, June 19, 1995, at 30.

. Stephen B. Bright & Patrick J. Keenan, Judges and the Politics of Death: Deciding Between the Bill of Rights and the Next Election in Capital Cases, 75 B.U. L. Rev. 759, 779 n.89 (1995) (in 32 of the 38 states that have the death penalty, state court judges must stand for periodic election or retention).

. Governor George Deukmejian announced his opposition to Chief Justice Rose Bird because of her votes in capital cases and warned two other justices he would oppose them unless the death penalty was upheld. Leo C. Wolinsky, Support for Two Justices Tied to Death Penalty Votes, Governor Says, L.A. Times, Mar. 14, 1986, at 3; Steve Wiegand, Governor's Warning to 2 Justices, S.F. Chron., Mar. 14, 1986, at 1. He eventually campaigned for the removal of all three justices and the voters responded by voting all three from their positions. Frank Clifford, Voters Repudiate 3 of Court's Liberal Justices, L.A. Times, Nov. 5, 1986, pt. 1, at 1 (describing results of election and commercials in the last month of the campaign which insisted "that all three justices needed to lose if the death penalty is to be enforced").

. David W. Case, In Search of an Independent Judiciary: Alternatives to Judicial Elections in Mississippi, 13 Miss. C. L. Rev. 1, 15-20 (1992) (describing how Justice James Robertson was defeated by a "law and order candidate" who had the support of the Mississippi Prosecutor's Association). Robertson was the second justice to be voted off the Mississippi Supreme Court in two years for being "soft on crime." Andy Kanengler, McRae Overwhelms Justice Joel Blass, Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), June 6, 1990, at 4A; Tammie Cessna Langford, McRae Unseats Blass, Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), June 3, 1990, at A1.

. Janet Elliott & Richard Connelly, Mansfield: The Stealth Candidate; His Past Isn't What it Seems, Tex. Law., Oct. 3, 1994, at 1, 32.

. Id.; John Williams, Election '94: GOP Gains Majority in State Supreme Court, Houston Chron., Nov. 10, 1994, at A29.

. Jane Elliott, Unqualified Success: Mansfield's Mandate; Vote Makes Case for Merit Selection, Tex. Law., Nov. 14, 1994, at 1.

. 372 U.S. 335 (1963).

. Anthony Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet 205 (1964).

. For a description of the lack of indigent defense systems and the state of indigent defense, see Stephen B. Bright, Counsel for the Poor: The Death Sentence Not for the Worst Crime but for the Worst Lawyer, 103 Yale L.J. 1835, 1849-55 (1994).

. Judy Bailey, Does Sheriff Run Putnam's Indigent Defense?, Fulton County Daily Rep., Nov. 10, 1995, at 1.

. Peter Applebome, Black Man Freed After Years on Death Row in Alabama, N.Y. Times, Mar. 3, 1993, at A1.

. See Schlup v. Delo, 115 S. Ct. 851 (1995).

. Kyles v. Whitley, 115 S. Ct. 1555 (1995) (finding a violation of due process by the prosecution due to failure to turn over exculpatory evidence).

. Marcia Coyle, Republicans Take Aim at Death Row Lawyers, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 11, 1995, at A1, A25 (describing the effort of South Carolina's Attorney General and other members of the National Association of Attorneys General to eliminate funding for the post-conviction defender organizations even though the organizations had established the innocence of at least four men condemned to die); David Cole, Too Expensive or Too Effective? The Real Reason the GOP Wants to Cut Capital-Representation Centers, Fulton County Daily Rep., Sept. 8, 1995, at 6 (pointing out that eliminating funding for the capital representation centers would increase the cost of providing representation, but decrease the quality).

. Murray v. Giarratano, 492 U.S. 1 (1989).

. For a more comprehensive discussion of the problems of deficient representation in capital cases and the reasons for it, see Bright, supra note 25.

. Paul M. Barrett, Lawyer's Fast Work on Death Cases Raises Doubts About System, Wall St. J., Sept. 7, 1994, at 1 (describing Houston lawyer Joe Frank Canon, who is known for hurrying through capital trials like "greased lightening," occasionally falls asleep, and has had 10 clients sentenced to death); Ex Parte Burdine, 901 S.W.2d 456, 457 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995) (Maloney, J., dissenting) (noting testimony of jurors and court clerk that defense attorney slept during trial).

. John Makeig, Asleep on the Job; Slaying Trial Boring, Lawyer Said, Houston Chron., Aug. 14, 1992, at A35.

. Record at 846-49, Haney v. State, 603 So. 2d 368 (Ala. Crim. App. 1991), aff'd, 603 So. 2d 412 (Ala. 1992), cert. denied, 113 S. Ct. 1297 (1993).

. Judy Bailey, A Poor Example of Indigent Defense, Fulton County Daily Rep., Jan. 16, 1996, at 1 (describing hearing in Fugate v. Thomas, Super. Ct. of Butts Co., Ga., No. 94-V-195 (Jan. 10-11, 1996)).

. Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) (striking down Georgia's death penalty statute).

. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976) (upholding the death penalty statue enacted by the Georgia legislature in 1973 in response to the Court's decision in Furman).

. Transcript of Hearing of Apr. 25-27, 1988, at 231, State v. Birt, Super. Ct. of Jefferson Co., Ga. No. 2360 (1988) (on file with author). The lawyer was referring to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857). Dred Scott was not a criminal case.

. Brief for Appellant, Ex parte Heath, 455 So. 2d 905 (Ala. 1984). The brief is set out in full in Bright, supra note 25, at 1860-61 n.154.

. See Andrews v. Shulsen, 485 U.S. 919 (1988) (Marshall, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari).

. See Hance v. Zant, 114 S. Ct. 1392 (1994) (Blackmun, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari); Bob Herbert, Mr. Hance's 'Perfect Punishment,' N.Y. Times, Mar. 27, 1994, at D17; Bob Herbert, Jury Room Injustice, N.Y. Times, Mar. 30, 1994, at A15.

. For further discussion of the influence of race on the imposition of the death penalty and the failure of legislatures and courts to deal with the problem, see Stephen B. Bright, Discrimination, Death and Denial: The Tolerance of Racial Discrimination in the Infliction of the Death Penalty, 35 Santa Clara L. Rev. 433 (1995).

. Clif LeBlanc, Smith Lawyer Donates $83,000 in Fees, The State (Columbia, S.C.), Feb. 2, 1996, at B3; Andrew Blum, Defender Proffers Fees, Nat'l L.J., Apr. 15, 1996, at A7.

. Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. 259- 67 (James M. Washington ed., 1986).

. Id. at 267.

. See Helen Prejean, C.S.J., Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States (1993) (describing her work with death row inmates).

. Wiesel's Speech: This Honor Belongs to All the Survivors, N.Y. Times, Dec. 11, 1986, at A2.

. Amadeo v. Zant, 486 U.S. 214 (1988).

. A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Justice Clarence Thomas in Retrospect, 45 Hastings L.J. 1405, 1430 (1994).

. Carl T. Rowan, Dream Makers, Dream Breakers: The World of Justice Thurgood Marshall 453-54 (1993).


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 01, 2008

Only an a Licensed Attorney and Only in Latin to hoard and exploit a people

In 1380 John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor and theologian translated the Latin Vulgate into English, which was the only Bible available to him. He made dozens of hand written Bibles. He opposed the teaching of the Catholic Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. The Pope was so angry at him that 44 years after Wycliffe died, the Pope ordered his bones to be dug-up, crushed and scattered in a river. A follower of Wycliffe, John Hus, promoted his idea that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415.

It was not until the Guttenberg Bible in Latin, published in 1456, (becoming the first Bible to be mass-produced) that ordinary people who could read Latin could learn what the Bible really said. In 1514, a Greek New Testament was printed. The Roman Catholic Church would allow its members to have a copy of only the Old Testament, while the Protestants included both the Old and New Testaments into their Bibles.

In the 1490’s Thomas Linacre, another Oxford professor learned Greek and compared a Greek version to the Latin Vulgate. He wrote in his diary, “Either this is not the Gospel….or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer followed the Gospel, yet the Church still killed anyone who read the scriptures in any language not Latin.

In 1516 the scholar Erasmus caused a Greek and Latin version to be printed as a parallel New Testament text. In 1522, a Polyglot Bible was published in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. Erasmus used this Bible to revise his later editions of the New Testament.

William Tyndale used the Polyglot Bible to translate into English from Hebrew, Greek and Latin, to print the New Testament in 1526 and the Old Testament in 1530. He is credited with printing the first English Bible. Tyndale's English prose was beautiful. He was a teacher of Shakespeare.

The Bishops burned every copy they could find. In 1534 Tyndale was killed by the Catholic Church for translating the Bible into English. He was strangled and burned at the stake. King Henry VII hid many copies of Tyndall’s Bible in his bedroom. Disciples of Tyndale continued his work and many versions were print. By 1580 the Catholic Church realized they had lost the battle for Latin only and approved use of the English language. By 1610 the Roman Church had its English Version.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Best Defense: Exploitation of the elderly by the losers who fall for gold diggers....

The Best Defense: Exploitation of the elderly by the losers who fall for gold diggers....

1933 by signing the Concordat, the Vatican gave Hitler international respectability and told millions of Catholics in Germany and worldwide .........

The Emperor's New Clothes

Subscribe to the free Emperor's Clothes Newsletter;
receive articles from TENC. Just send a blank email to:

(You will immediately receive a confirmation email; please
click 'reply' and 'send' to finalize your subscription.)

Please forward this text or send the link to a friend.

Emperor's Clothes *

Our readers are our only sponsors.
Please make a donation to Emperor's Clothes!


The Pictures Accuse: The Catholic Church and Nazism in Germany and Croatia

Photo montage and text by Jared Israel
[Posted 22 April 2005. New Introduction, 11 April 2006]


Did the Catholic Church help German Nazism?

"Antagonism to the Jews of today must not be extended to the books of Pre-Christian Judaism."

-- Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber in the Advent sermons, delivered in 1933. According to the Vatican statement, "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," the Advent sermons "clearly expressed rejection of the Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda." For more on Faulhaber, see below.

The Vatican claims Nazism was the antithesis of the Catholic Church:

[Excerpt from "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," starts here]

At the level of theological reflection we cannot ignore the fact that not a few in the Nazi Party not only showed aversion to the idea of divine Providence at work in human affairs, but gave proof of a definite hatred directed at God himself. Logically, such an attitude also led to a rejection of Christianity and a desire to see the Church destroyed or at least subjected to the interests of the Nazi state.

It was this extreme ideology which became the basis of the measures taken first to drive the Jews from their homes and then to exterminate them. The Shoah was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime. Its anti-semitism had its roots outside of Christianity and, in pursuing its aims, it did not hesitate to oppose the Church and persecute her members also.

[Excerpt from "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," ends here]

If you read the text of "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," you will see that the Vatican refuses to acknowledge that the Church ever officially aided Nazism; it names only Church officials who allegedly opposed the Nazis. (Regarding this, I have posted the argument, made in "We Remember," that Cardinal Faulhaber stood up to Nazi antisemitism, plus two excerpts from Faulhaber's actual remarks.)

Indeed, "We remember" quotes Pope John Paul II saying that the Church not only opposed Nazism and repudiated Nazi racial doctrines, but that it had always rejected the views held by some Christians that Jews were to blame for supposedly killing Jesus:

"In the Christian world--I do not say on the part of the Church as such--erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people."
-- John Paul II as quoted in "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust"

Pope John Paul II and "We Remember" are widely praised for supposedly facing up to errors made during the Holocaust.

I ask: if the Church never aided, and indeed opposed, the Nazis, and never even accepted religion-based antisemitism, to what errors did the Vatican face up?

Here's how Joseph Ratzinger explains it. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote the following when he was a top advisor to John Paul II:

"'Even if the most recent, loathsome experience of the Shoah (Holocaust) was perpetrated in the name of an anti-Christian ideology, which tried to strike the Christian faith at its Abrahamic roots in the people of Israel, it cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians.'" (My emphasis - Jared Israel.)
-- Joseph Ratzinger as quoted by Abe Foxman in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) press release welcoming Ratzinger's election as Pope.
Also quoted on

So Joseph Ratzinger claims that: a) Nazism was "anti-Christian"; b) Christianity erred only by "insufficient resistance" to Nazism, not by complicity or active support; c) even this error resulted from individual Christian's religious hostilities to Judaism - "an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians" - rather than widespread and virulent antisemitism and the policies of religious organizations, such as the centralized Catholic Church.

But the evidence shows that:

A) The Catholic Church hierarchy - especially Eugenio Pacelli, before and after he became Pope Pius XII - aided the Nazis. Indeed, Pacelli and the Church played a central role in making Hitler the dictator of Germany.

B) The Catholic Church was active in Nazi movements outside Germany, especially in the Baltic region and in the Balkans, where the Church helped run the Nazi puppet State of Croatia. After the war, the Vatican sheltered Croatian Nazi war criminals.

C) Although at Yad Vashem, Pope John Paul II described the Nazis as having "a Godless ideology," this is not how the Nazis presented themselves or how the Catholic Church described the Nazis when they were in power.

The German Catholic Church's Centre Party (Zentrum) did clash with the Nazis in the 1920s, but as Hitler wrote (see quote below) their quarrel was over politics, not Catholic religious teachings, let alone belief in god. I can find no record from the period of Nazi rule of the Catholic Church attacking the Nazis as atheists, perhaps because they weren't. The Nazis themselves claimed they were fighting against atheism, specifically Bolshevist atheism, which they charged was a Jewish-created movement. In attacking the Jews, the Nazis routinely employed Christian symbolism and traditional Christian antisemitic arguments, with which Europeans were familiar.

On 23 March 1933, the Nazi government put forward the Enabling act, which would allow Hitler to create new laws without parliamentary approval. This was after the Nazi-staged Reichstag fire; after the banning of the huge Communist party and subsequent arrest of thousands of communists and other anti-Nazis; and amidst a campaign of violent antisemitism. To become law, the Enabling act needed a 2/3 parliamentary vote. Before the vote, Hitler addressed the Reichstag (parliament) saying:

"While the Government is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and insuring prerequisites for a truly religious life. The Government sees in both [Catholic and Protestant] Christian confessions the most important factors for the maintenance of our folkdom. It will respect agreements concluded between them and the States. However, it respects that its work will meet with a similar appreciation. The Government will treat all other denominations with equal objective justice. It can never condone, though, that belonging to a certain denomination or to a certain race might be regarded as a license to commit or tolerate crimes. The Government will devote its care to the sincere living together of Church and State." (My emphasis - Jared Israel)

The Social Democrats fiercely opposed the Enabling act. Hitler needed a 2/3 majority, so the balance lay with Zentrum, the Catholic Center Party. Zentrum leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, a close friend and advisor to Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, addressed the Reichstag. Far from attacking the Enabling act, or disputing Hitler's claim that Nazism was based on Christianity, Kaas called for a 'yes' vote. The Zentrum faction did vote 'yes,' and the act became law. According to National Catholic Reporter correspondent John Allen, a liberal Catholic and student of Vatican history (he has written a biography of Joseph Ratzinger):

[Excerpt from John Allen's Telegraph article starts here]

Kaas acted in co-ordination with the German bishops. Four days later, on March 28, the German bishops rescinded their ban on Nazi party membership. On April 1, Cardinal Adolf Bertram of Breslau addressed German Catholics in a letter, warning them "to reject as a matter of principle all illegal or subversive activities". To most Catholics, it looked as if the church wanted a modus vivendi with Hitler.

The same impression was created a few weeks later when Hitler held a plebiscite to endorse his decision to pull Germany out of the League of Nations, which received the endorsement of the Catholic press and of several Catholic bishops. When Hitler and the Church came to terms for a concordat, it cemented the impression that Hitler was a man the Church "could do business with".

[Excerpt from John Allen's Telegraph article ends here]

Three and a half months later, on 6 July 1933, the Catholic Church's Center Party, Zentrum, dissolved itself. Two weeks after that, the Vatican and the Nazi government signed the Concordat, confirming the alliance between the Catholic Church and the Nazi state. Article 16 of the Concordat, published below, required that Catholic bishops swear to honor the Nazi government, to make their subordinates honor it, and to shun acts that would endanger it. (Notice that the Church was not promising to avoid just illegal acts, but any acts that might endanger the Nazi state, even if such acts were not yet outlawed.)

"Article 16

Before bishops take possession of their dioceses they are to take an oath of fealty either to the Reich Representative of the State concerned, or to the President of the Reich, according to the following formula: "Before God and on the Holy Gospels I swear and promise as becomes a bishop, loyalty to the German Reich and to the [regional - EC] State of . . . I swear and promise to honor the legally constituted Government and to cause the clergy of my diocese to honor it. In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interests of the German Reich, I will endeavor to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it." (My emphasis - Jared Israel)

Notice that the Vatican committed German bishops to "honor the legally constituted Government." The Vatican was publicly asserting that the Enabling act, which could not have passed absent Catholic Church-controlled votes, made the Nazi dictatorship "legally constituted." So first the Catholic hierarchy fights to get the Center party to vote for the Enabling act (because there was an internal fight over this that Monsignor Kaas, who was very close to the Vatican, won) thus giving the dictatorship a pseudo legality and then the Vatican orders the German Church from bishops on down to honor the Nazi Reich because... it was legally constituted!

The Nazis pledged, among other things, to give certain organizational Church decisions the force of criminal law. For example:

"Article 10

The wearing of clerical dress or of a religious habit on the part of lay folk, or of clerics or religious who have been forbidden to wear them by a final and valid injunction made by the competent ecclesiastical authority and officially communicated to the State authority, is liable to the same penalty on the part of the State as the misuse of military uniform."

Defenders of the Catholic Church, such as the Vatican official, Jesuit Peter Gumpel, argue that:

"As the Vatican authority itself and the most astute Catholics foresaw, Hitler never had any intention of respecting the Concordat, rather, with the exception of the strictly liturgical or para-liturgical functions, the rest of the Church’s activities were systematically hampered and later gradually suppressed."

-- Quoted by the Catholic news agency, ZENIT, at

To read Emperor's Clothes articles supporting the charge that Gumpel, the main Vatican advocate for Pope Pius XII, is also a public advocate for antisemitism, see and

It is certainly true that the Nazis reneged on parts of the Concordat, especially over issues involving control. And the German Church did sometimes criticize Nazi policies, for example regarding forced sterilization (which contradicts Catholic doctrine) but not, as the Vatican now claims, over Nazi treatment of the Jews. But the secondary fact, that German Catholic-Nazi relations were not always smooth sailing, does not mitigate the horrific truth: by voting to give Hitler dictatorial powers, the Catholic Center Party made it possible for Hitler to set up his dictatorship with a (phony) appearance of legality; by dissolving the Center party, the German Church eliminated a potential source of resistance and, for many Catholics, took away their only vehicle of political expression; by dropping the ban on Catholics joining the Nazi Party, the Church made Nazism an alternative vehicle for political action; and by signing the Concordat, the Vatican gave Hitler international respectability and told millions of Catholics in Germany and worldwide that the Pope was cooperating with the Nazis.

Put yourself in the position of a 1933 German Catholic as you read the text of the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican, the Reichskonkordat.

The German Catholic Church has rescinded its ban on joining the Nazi Party. The Catholic Center party has dissolved itself. In the Reichskonkordat, the Vatican has promised that German Bishops and their subordinates will be obedient to and honor the Nazi state (Article 16). It has promised that German Catholic educators will teach children patriotic love for the Nazi state (Article 21). It has requested and received the Nazi dictatorship's promise to enforce internal Church decisions (Article 10). Cardinal Bertram of Breslau has called on Catholics to avoid all subversive or illegal (by Nazi definition) activities. How should you respond to the Nazi's new nightmare state? Doesn't the Catholic Church teach you to view Church officials as exemplary? Shouldn't they be emulated? Isn't the Pope's word law, and didn't the Pope sign the Reichskonkordat, an agreement with the Nazi dictatorship, that reads:
"In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interests of the German Reich, I will endeavor to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it."
--Mandatory pledge for newly appointed Catholic Bishops, as stated in the Reichskonkordat, or Concordat Between the Holy See and the German [Nazi] Reich, Article 16

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote:

" cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity [the Holocaust] on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians."

Sure, there was plenty of "anti-Judaism," not to mention plain antisemitism. But the Vatican had committed the German Church to honor the Nazi dictatorship and "Avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it." Is Pope Benedict XVI, formerly the Vatican's Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and before that a German professor of Theology, perhaps unfamiliar with the Reichskonkordat? Or does Ratzinger think the German Catholic Church should have rebelled against the Vatican?

And what if Fr. Peter Gumpel is correct? What if, as Gumpel argues, "the Vatican authority itself and the most astute Catholics" expected the Nazis to renege on some or all of what they promised in the Concordat? What if, in other words, the German Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican ordered Catholic deputies to vote for the Enabling act and negotiated the Concordat while expecting that Hitler would not deliver promised guarantees to the German Church? What then was the motive of the Vatican and the German Catholic hierarchy for taking actions which put the Nazis firmly in power, permitted Catholics to join the Nazi party, and gave Hitler a document, signed by the Pope, which committed the German Church to honor the Nazi Reich and shun actions "which might endanger it"?

Catholic Church participation in Nazism was visible to the world starting in 1933, and despite recent Vatican efforts to whitewash the past, a pictorial record survived. These pictures accuse.

- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes
11 April 2006

Related articles:

Emperor's Clothes has published the first three parts of a series on John Paul II's policies:

Part 1: "Did the Pope Really Reject Church Antisemitism? Mr. Foxman's Mistake"

Part 2: "Mr. Laughland's adulation"

Part 3: "As the Pope flew to Israel, a Top Adviser Attacked the Jews on TV"

Adolf Hitler converses with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, at a New Year's reception in Berlin. (January 1, 1935)
[Photo source, US Holocaust Museum]

"On February 10, 1939, Pius XI died, at the age of 81. [Vatican Secretary of State Eugenio] Pacelli, then 63, was elected Pope by the College of Cardinals in just three ballots, on March 2. He was crowned on March 12, on the eve of Hitler's march into Prague. Between his election and his coronation he held a crucial meeting with the German cardinals. Keen to affirm Hitler publicly, he showed them a letter of good wishes which began, "To the Illustrious Herr Adolf Hitler." Should he, he asked them, style the Führer "Most Illustrious"? He decided that that might be going too far. He told the cardinals that Pius XI had said that keeping a papal nuncio in Berlin "conflicts with our honor." But his predecessor, he said, had been mistaken. He was going to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Hitler. The following month, at Pacelli's express wish, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the Berlin nuncio, hosted a gala reception in honor of Hitler's 50th birthday. A birthday greeting to the Führer from the bishops of Germany would become an annual tradition until the war's end."
--- From text excerpted from John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope" and posted at

Cornwell reports that he was given access to secret Vatican archives with the understanding that he would write a defense of Pius XII but changed his mind after studying the record.

Forced conversion of Serbs to Catholicism

The Nazi-like Croatian Ustashi state, set up immediately after the Nazi German invasion of Yugoslavia, was based on fanatical Catholicism. Orthodox Christian Serbs who refused to convert were butchered in their villages, or at the Jasenovac death camp, or thrown into mountain crevaces. Hitler referred to the Ustashi as "Our Nazis."

The Catholic Center Party's support for the Enabling act, which gave Hitler dictatorial powers; the Center Party's subsequent decision to dissolve itself; and the signing of the Nazi-Vatican Concordat two weeks later - these actions told Catholics it was OK to work with Nazis or even to be a Nazi. This was a big boost for Nazi forces, not only in Germany but worldwide. Case in point: the Croatian Ustashi. When the German Nazis invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustashi terrorist organization set up the so-called 'Independent State of Croatia.' The Ustashi attempted to wipe out Yugoslavia's Jewish population and made a full-scale attack on the Serbs, who were members of the Serbian Orthodox Church, bitterly opposed by the Catholic hierarchy that was the mainstay of the Ustashi. The Ustashi state went to war against the Serbs:

[Quote from "Encyclopedia of the Nations" starts here]

"Slavko Kvaternik explained [in a radio program on April 10, 1941, the day the 'Independent State of Croatia' was formed] how a pure Croatia should be built - by forcing one third of the Serbs to leave Croatia, one third to convert to Catholicism, and one third to be exterminated. Soon Ustasha bands initiated a bloody orgy of mass murder of Serbs unfortunate enough not to have converted or left Croatia on time.

"The enormity of such criminal behavior shocked even the conscience of German commanders, but Pavelic had Hitler's personal support for such actions which resulted in the loss of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.In addition, the Ustasa regime organized extermination camps, the most notorious one at Jasenovac where Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and other opponents were massacred in large numbers."

[Quote from "Encyclopedia of the Nations" ends here]
-- 'Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations,' (Europe, 1995) 91

The above-quoted report describes German commanders as being shocked by Croatian Ustashi barbarity. However, the Germans used equally brutal methods to destroy Jewish villages in the Soviet Union after the German Nazi invasion. Perhaps the Germans were shocked because the people being slaughtered were perceived as human, that is, they were not Jews...

The forced conversion of tens of thousands of Serbs to Catholicism by the Ustashi regime proves its fanatically Catholic character; hence the 'Independent State of Croatia' is commonly referred to as a 'Clerical-Fascist' state. Since the Vatican controlled the Catholic hierarchy worldwide, and since the Croatian Catholic hierarchy accepted papal infallibility and organizational direction, how can we explain the Ustashi's Catholic violence except as an expression of the policies of the Church under Pope Pius XII?

The Germans invaded Yugoslavia on April 10, 1941. According to the following report from the Yugoslav Embassy in Washington, Croatian Catholic Archbishop Stepinac helped the Ustashi terrorists create their pro-Nazi state. As in Germany, the stance taken by the Church hierarchy guided lower clergy and lay Catholics:

[Excerpt from Yugoslav Embassy report starts here]

[On April 10, the day of the Nazi invasion, Croatian Ustashi leader Ante Pavelic was in Italy.] On that very same day Pavelic's [lieutenant], Slavko Kvaternik, leader of the illegal Ustashi movement, proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia and formed the first Ustashi government. [Croatian Catholic] Archbishop Stepinac at once sided with the Ustashi traitors and helped them take over the government. On April 12, 1941, while fighting between the Germans and the Yugoslav Army was still going on in the Bosnian mountains -- while millions of patriotic Yugoslavs were still determined to resist the invaders -- Archbishop Stepinac openly called on Kvaternik and congratulated him on his success.

The day before Easter, Slavko Kvaternik visited Archbishop Stepinac. The official organ of the Archbishopric, Katolicki List, reported that the Archbishop had expressed his highest satisfaction to Kvaternik. The Ustashi newspaper Krvatske Novosti, in its Easter issue, underlined the significance of this interchange of visits and pointed out the cordiality with which the Archbishop of Zagreb had greeted the deputy of Dr. Pavelic. This newspaper drew the conclusion that the foundation was laid for intimate cooperation between the Ustashi movement and the highest representative of the Roman Catholic Church in the Croatian State.

What other conclusion could the lower clergy reach, despite the knowledge that both Kvaternik and Pavelic had been sentenced to death in absentia for their roles in the murder of King Alexander and French Foreign Minister Barthou?

On April 13, 1941, Ante Pavelic reached Zagreb from Italy. On the very next day -- the Royal Yugoslav Army was still fighting -- Archbishop Stepinac paid him a visit, to greet him and voice his congratulations.

Two weeks later, on April 28, 1941, Archbishop Stepinac issued a pastoral letter asking the clergy to respond without hesitation to his call that they take part in the exalted work of defending and improving the Independent State of Croatia. He emphasized his deep conviction that the efforts of the Poglavnik [i.e., the leader of the Croatian Ustashi state, Ante Pavelic - J.I.] would meet with complete understanding and support, basing this confidence on his acquaintance with the men now directing the destiny of the Croatian people. He believed and hoped, his letter said, that in the resurrected Croatian State the Church would be able in complete freedom to preach "the invincible principles of eternal truth and justice." The pastoral letter, which was also published in Nedelja and Katolicki List on April 28, 1941, declared:

"Honorable brethren, there is not one among you who did not recently witness the most significant event in the life of the Croatian people among whom we act as herald of Christ's word. These are events that fulfilled the long-dreamed of and desired ideal of our people.... You should therefore readily answer my call to do elevated work for the safeguarding and the progress of the Independent State of Croatia.... Prove yourselves, honorable brethren, and fulfill now your duty toward the young Independent State of Croatia."

The Ustashi section of the clergy, which had been active in terrorism even before the war, did not need this circular to tell them how to act. But a great part of the Catholic clergy, not earlier involved in the Ustashi movement, accepted the circular as a directive, an order from their most responsible chief; and in accordance with its exhortations placed themselves at the disposal of the Ustashi. Answering the call of the Primate of the church, many priests then engaged actively in supporting the Ustashi regime. [My emphasis - J.I.]

[Excerpt from Yugoslav Embassy report ends here]

Croatian Ustashi fuehrer Ante Pavelic giving Nazi salute (far left) with Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (far right) and other Catholic Church leaders

A Cardinal marches with the German Nazis

A religious leader, apparently Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, marches between rows of SA men at a Nazi rally in Munich.

Some claim the religious figure in the photo is papal nuncio Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, not Cardinal Faulhaber. Regardless, no one denies he is a high ranking representative of the Catholic Church.

(Source: A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen - Posted on the Internet by Jim Walker; the text is my edited version of Mr. Walker's text - J.I.)

In the Vatican's much-praised, "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," we read:

"The well-known Advent sermons of Cardinal Faulhaber in 1933, the very year in which National Socialism came to power, at which not just Catholics but also Protestants and Jews were present, clearly expressed rejection of the Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda."

Could it be that the Jesuit scholars who wrote "We Remember" never read Cardinal Faulhaber's 1933 Advent sermons? If so, let me help. I have the full text in front of me. The Cardinal's position was the exact opposite of what the Vatican claims. Faulhaber stated that:

"From the Church's point of view there is no objection whatsoever to racial research and race culture." (page 107)

What Faulhaber did oppose was the demand by some Nazis that Christians reject the 'Old Testament' (the Torah) which would in effect have negated the Catholic doctrine that Christianity is "the true Israel," which requires that it be the inheritor of the Torah.

Consider this excerpt, reproduced exactly at it appears in the official translation of the Advent sermons:

"By accepting these books, Christianity does not become a Jewish religion. These books were not composed by Jews; they are inspired by the Holy Ghost, and therefore they are the word of God, they are God's books. The writers of them were God's pencils, the psalm-singers were harps in the hand of God, the Prophets were announcers of God's revelation. It is for this reason that the scriptures of the Old Testament are worthy of credence and veneration for all time. Antagonism to the Jews of today must not be extended to the books of Pre-Christian Judaism." - p.14
[My emphasis - J.I.]
- Faulhaber, Cardinal Michael von, "Judaism, Christianity, Germany." (New York, Macmillan: 1934)

So Faulhaber was not saying Christians should reject racist attitudes towards Jews. He was saying he had no problem with "race culture," but hatred of Jews should not extend to pre-Christian Hebrew religious texts, which were a Christian legacy of heavenly origin.


Croatian Ustashi dictator Ante Pavelic with Franciscan monks. The Franciscan order was active in the genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma.

Catholic clergy and Nazi officials, including Joseph Goebbels (far right) and Wilhelm Frick (second from right), give the Nazi salute. Germany, date uncertain.
[Photo source, Holocaust Encyclopedia,]

In 1933, under the leadership of its Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli (who became Pope Pius XII), the Vatican negotiated a Concordat with Adolf Hitler. Catholic historian James Carroll writes:

"Even an indirect endorsement meant everything to Hitler as he sought to establish his legitimacy at home and abroad. In these early months of 1933, Catholic leaders went from being Hitler's staunch opponents to his latest allies. This transformation was dramatically symbolized by the fact that in 1932, the Fulda Episcopal Conference, representing the Catholic hierarchy of Germany, banned membership in the Nazi Party and forbade priests from offering communion to anyone wearing the swastika; then, on March 28, 1933, two weeks after Pacelli offered his overture to Hitler, the same Fulda conferees voted to lift the ban on Catholic membership in the Nazi Party. The bishops expressed, as they put it, 'a certain confidence in the new government, subject to reservations concerning some religious and moral lapses.' Swastika bearers would now be welcomed at the communion rail."

As part of its Concordat with the Nazi regime, the Vatican had the huge Center Party, the Catholic Party, which had previously opposed the Nazis, vote for the so-called 'Enabling Act,' which gave Hitler dictatorial powers, and then dissolve itself. Carroll writes:

"The Reichskonkordat effectively removed the Catholic Church from any continued role of opposition to Hitler. More than that, as Hitler told his cabinet on July 14, it established a context that would be 'especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry.' The deep well of Catholic antisemitism would be tapped, to run as freely as any stream of hate in Germany. The positive side of the long-standing ambivalence, which had again and again been the source of impulses to protect Jews, would now be eliminated, allowing the negative side to metastasize."
-- J. Carroll, Constantine's Sword, (New York, 2002) 498-500

In the above-quoted excerpt, Mr. Carroll seems to suggest that it was the "long-standing ambivalence" of the Catholic Church as an organization that had been, prior to the Reichskonkordat, "again and again... the source of impulses to protect Jews." There are several problems with this.

First, the existence of a human impulse to decency, whether among Catholics or anyone else, is not proof of official policy. As a youthful participant in the US Civil Rights movement, I saw whites who objected to - and even took brave action to oppose - harsh treatment of black people. Such actions, while heartening, do not disprove the existence of an officially sanctioned system of abuse predicated on a theory (in this case, that blacks were supposedly less human). Similarly, of course many Catholics have been kind towards Jews and even drawn towards Jewish culture and thinking. But this does not contradict a 2,000 year policy of the Church hierarchy which has a) stigmatized Jews as "killers of Jesus," which belief has fed and justified antisemitism, including the Nazi variety and b) discriminated sharply and/or subtly against Jews (e.g., the ghettos in which Jews were forced to live in the papal states) and c) conducted brutal campaigns against Jews (the inquisition is only one example.)

Second, the seeming ambivalence of the official Church is rooted in a doctrinal contradiction: since Christianity is presented as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, the Church hierarchy needs to have some Jews around, but it has not wanted them to prosper, or at least not for long, because ordinary Catholics might see that as evidence that God had not rejected the Jews for failing to accept Jesus as divine. This policy was first enunciated by St. Augustine, who cited Psalm 59: "Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield."

In other words, don't wipe them out, or at least not all of them, because Catholic doctrine presents the Bible (i.e., Jewish scripture) as predicting the coming of Jesus. But scatter them (i.e., don't let them return to Judah, let alone have a state there) and bring them down (make sure they suffer) so that Christians will see what happened to the Jews because they rejected the doctrine that Jesus was divine. And, by all means, provide a steady stream of much-publicized Jewish converts as proof of the benevolence and divinity of Christianity, the acceptance of which constitutes, according to Church doctrine, the salvation of Jews.

Thus the Vatican is perfectly capable of making statements against abuse of the Jews (who are presented as constituting "our Abrahamic roots" which is not necessarily a statement of brotherly affection, but can be one of religious self-justification!) even as it encourages - sometimes in the same statements - abuse of Jews. I am in the midst of writing a series on Pope John Paul II that deals in part with the above-described phenomenon. Three articles are posted: and

Priests give Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukolln stadium in August 1933.

[Source: A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen]

Adolf Hitler greets his favorite, Ante Pavelic, leader of the Croatian Ustashi and soon to be fuehrer of the Ustashi state, upon Pavelic's arrival at the Berghof for a state visit. (June 9, 1941)

Hitler had reason to smile. The Nazi German Army would invade Yugoslavia April 10; Pavelic's Ustashi (Clerical-Fascist) forces would immediately set up a dictatorship based on fanatical Catholicism and so-called "racial purity." By April 28th Croatian Archbishop Stepinac would issue a pastoral letter telling Catholics to support this Nazi-like dictatorship.

Croatian Catholic Cardinal Stepinac, front center, was a deputy in the Sabor, the pseudo-legislature of the Nazi-like Croatian Ustashi dictatorship.

After WWII, Yugoslavia put Cardinal Stepinac on trial. The Catholic Church fiercely defended Stepinac against the charge that he had helped the Ustashi even as the Vatican secretly worked with US military intelligence to help Ustashi war criminals escape from Europe, using a network known as the Ratline.

In 1991 the political heirs to the Ustashi took leadership of the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia and led a secessionist rebellion. They rehabilitated Ustashi leaders and renewed war against the Serbian people. The title of an Emperor's Clothes article accurately describes the Western response: "The Media Suppressed the Truth about the Rebirth of Croatian Fascism."

Just as the Catholic Church hierarchy helped to establish and lead the Ustashi 'Independent State of Croatia' during World War II, so the Church helped neo-Ustashi leaders create a new independent Croatia in the 1990s.When, in June 1991, neo-Ustashi extremists launched the Yugoslav wars of secession by attacking federal troops in Croatia, the Church hierarchy painted a sympathetic picture of the secessionists. A few days after the Croatians declared war, the Pope sent a letter to the Yugoslav government demanding it not suppress the rebellion. On June 29th, the Pope spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square:

[Excerpt from United Press International starts here]

Pope calls on Yugoslav leaders to respect 'legitimate aspirations', United Press International, June 29, 1991, Saturday, BC cycle, International, 546 words, By Charles Ridley, Vatican City


''My thoughts today turn in particular to the dear peoples of Croatia and Slovenia,'' the pope said. ''I feel close to those who are grieving for their dead, to the wounded and to all those who are living in sorrow and fear.

''I repeat once again that one cannot and must not suffocate with force the rights and legitimate aspirations of the peoples,'' the pope said.

''I want in this way to encourage all those initiatives aimed at seeking just solutions, which alone can guarantee peace and fraternal coexistence among the peoples,'' he said.

John Paul called on ''the authorities of all the Yugoslav republics to show a constructive will for dialogue and long-sighted wisdom.''

The pope's appeals, and his repeated reference to ''legitimate rights'' appeared to support a declaration made by Yugoslav Catholic bishops Thursday which strongly defended the right of Slovenia and Croatia to declare their independence.

Vatican radio broadcast the full text of the declaration Saturday, around the same time the pope spoke in St. Peter's square. [My emphasis]


[Excerpt from United Press International starts here]

Over the next four years, independent Croatia drove about 600,000 Serbs from their homes, with never a word from the Pope protesting this "suffocat[ion] with force [of ] the rights and legitimate aspirations" of Serbs. About half the Serbs were expelled from Croatia proper and the other half from the neighboring territory of Krajina, claimed by Croatia; the overwhelmingly Serbian population of the Krajina had opposed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The most explosive and violent act of ethnic cleansing occurred in August 1995, when the Croatian army, led by US forces, drove a quarter million Serbian residents from the Krajina.

The media talks endlessly about a supposed massacre in Srebrenica, the existence of which is contested, whereas the media very rarely mentions the liquidation of Serbian Krajina, the greatest act of genocide in Europe since World War II.

The Trail of Tears.
Click picture for full-sized image.

In August 1995 the Croatian Army's 'Operation Storm' drove 250,000 Serbs from their homes. Unknown numbers were slaughtered in the onslaught, which included armored and aerial bombardment of cities and towns, and subsequent house to house operations in Serbian villages, during which many more civilians were butchered. I have posted a (London) Guardian article, "Victorious Croats 'Burned Villages," which presents an understated description of what the Croats did after seizing the Krajina.

Three years after the eradication of the Krajina, the Pope was in Croatia, kissing the soil and beatifying the notorious Cardinal Stepinac. At a time when hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, recently driven from their homes by the Croatian leaders, were living in poverty in refugee camps in Serbia, with no effort at reconciliation - let alone compensation - by Croatia, the Pope blessed the neo-Ustashi leaders with his presence and his words:

"I greet the members of the Government and the other distinguished persons who honour this meeting with their presence." [5]

While beatifying Cardinal Stepinac, the Pope also beautified Croatian war crimes, speaking as if Croatia had not itself launched the wars of secession, and, in Orwellian fashion, praising Croatia for having a spirit of reconciliation:

"After the violent and brutal war in which it found itself involved, Croatia is finally experiencing a period of peace and freedom. Now all the population's energies are dedicated to the gradual healing of the deep wounds of the conflict, to a genuine reconciliation among all the nation's ethnic, religious and political groups, and to an ever greater democratisation of society." [5]

He had met a genocide, and he called it love.

To read the case against Cardinal Stepinac, the man Pope John Paul II beatified in Croatia, go to

Hitler praying after a rally in Vienna
Pope John Paul II's claim (quoted below) that Nazism was a "Godless" movement is false, as suggested by Hitler's own words (also quoted below)

Pope John Paul II gave a speech at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in which he claimed the Holocaust was carried out by people with a "Godless ideology":

"How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he had reached the point of contempt for God. Only a godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people." [My emphasis - J.I.]

[-- To read the full text of the Pope's speech at Yad Vashem, go to
On that page, click the link "Pope John Paul II at Yad Vashem." Then scroll down to the link "Text of Pope John Paul's speech in the Hall of Remembrance."]

But the German Nazis embraced both the Protestant and Catholic religions. Below is a quote from Hitler's Mein Kampf. Not only does he state that in the Nazi movement, "the most devout Protestant could sit beside the most devout Catholic, without coming into the slightest conflict with his religious convictions," he also states that while the Nazis fought the Center party (the Catholic party in Germany) during the 1920s, they did so for 'racial' and political reasons, not over religion. Later of course, in 1933, based on a decision taken in Rome, the Center Party went over to Hitler's side and then dissolved itself. Hitler states that it was "the highest duty of the top leadership of the National Socialist movement to offer the sharpest opposition to any attempt" to involve the Nazis in fighting "Ultramontanism." The term "Ultramontanism" is defined differently by different factions in the Catholic Church, but all agree that it means (at least) a Catholic Church organizationally/ideologically dominated by the Bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope, who is viewed as infallible. So Hitler was saying the Nazis should *support* having the Pope dominate the Catholic Church even as he was fighting the Catholic party, the Center Party.

[Except from Mein Kampf begins here]

For the rest, the facts speak for themselves. The gentlemen who in 1924 suddenly discovered that the highest mission of the folkish movement was the struggle against 'Ultramontanism' did not break Ultramontanism, but tore apart the folkish movement. I must also lodge protest against any immature mind in the ranks of the folkish movement imagining that he can do what even a Bismarck could not do. It will always be the highest duty of the top leadership of the National Socialist movement to offer the sharpest opposition to any attempt to drive the National Socialist movement into such struggles [against the papacy! - JI], and immediately to remove the propagandists of such an intention from the ranks of the movement. And actually, by autumn, 1923, we succeeded entirely in this. In the ranks of the movement, the most devout Protestant could sit beside the most devout Catholic, without coming into the slightest conflict with his religious convictions. The mighty common struggle which both carried on against the destroyer of Aryan humanity had, on the contrary, taught them mutually to respect and esteem one another. And yet, in these very years, the movement carried on the bitterest fight against the [Catholic] Center [Party], though never on religious, but exclusively on national, racial, and economic-political grounds. The results spoke in our favor, just as today they testify against the know-it-alls. [My emphasis, J.I.]

-- A. Hitler, Mein Kampf, (Berlin, 1926), 564-565

[Except from Mein Kampf ends here]

"When you see a cross..."

Above is a page from the Nazi children's book, Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom). The caption reads, "When you see a cross, remember the gruesome murder of the Jews on Golgotha..."

[Excerpt from Nazi children's book starts here]

[A peasant mother points to a cross.] "Children, look there! The Man who hangs on the Cross was one of the greatest enemies of the Jews of all time. He knew the Jews in all their corruption and meanness... Because this Man knew the Jews, because He proclaimed the truth to the world, he had to die. Hence the Jews murdered Him. ...And in a similar way they have killed many others who had the courage to tell the truth about the Jews. Always remember these things, children. When you see the Cross, think of the terrible murder by the Jews on Golgotha."

[Excerpt from Nazi children's book ends here]

[Source, Jewish Virtual Library]

Front page of the Nazi publication, Der Stuermer.

Contrary to Pope John Paul II's remarks when he spoke at Yad Vashem, the Nazis were not "Godless." This headline from the infamously antisemitic Nazi periodical, Der Stuermer, reads, "Declaration of the Higher Clergy. So spoke Jesus Christ: You hypocrites who do not see the beam in your own eyes." [from Matthew 7:3-5] The cartoon depicts a group of Hitler Youth. The caption reads, "We youth step happily forward facing the sun... With our faith we drive the devil from the land." The devil in question was, of course, the Jews.

(Source: US Holocaust Museum)

Hitler leaves the Marine Church in Wilhelmshaven.

Hitler at Nazi party rally

Note the (Lutheran) Frauenkirch or Church of our Lady in the background; the rally was staged as if to say Christianity was the foundation of the Nazi Party . Photo taken in Nuremberg, Germany (circa 1928).

[Posted at 20th Century History, from US Holocaust Museum]

Church & State

Hitler in front of the Church of our Lady in Nuremberg, Sept. 1934. Photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann.

[Source: US Holocaust Museum]

'Further Reading' follows fundraising appeal

Emperor's Clothes
Needs Your Donation!

Our work depends on donations. If you find Emperor's Clothes useful, please help us to pay website, research and technical expenses. Every donation helps, big or small.

If you would like to donate but can't afford to now, you can help by posting Emperor's Clothes articles on websites and discussion lists, and distributing them by email.

If you can afford to donate now, please do!

Our best is yet to come.

Here's how to make a donation:

* At the Emperor's Clothes secure server
(Accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover)

* Using

* By mail. Please send checks to:
Emperor's Clothes
P.O. Box 610-321
Newton, MA 02461-0321

* Or, donate by phone at 1 617 916-1705
(If you get voicemail, please leave your phone
number and we'll call you back!)

Thank you!


Subscribe to the free Emperor's Clothes Newsletter;
receive articles from TENC. Just send a blank email to:

(You will immediately receive a confirmation email; please
click 'reply' and 'send' to finalize your subscription.)

Please forward this text or send the link to a friend.

Further reading

1) Emperor's Clothes is publishing a series of articles comparing the factual record to media claims about John Paul II's policies regarding:
* Jews and the Holocaust
* Yugoslavia, especially the secessionist wars in Croatia and Kosovo
* The murder of Catholic officials by death squads in El Salvador.

Parts1-3 are published:

Part 1: "Did the Pope Really Reject Church Antisemitism? Mr. Foxman's Mistake"

Part 2: "Mr. Laughland's adulation"

Part 3: "As the Pope flew to Israel, a Top Adviser Attacked the Jews on TV"

2) A long excerpt from John Cornwell's book, "Hitler's Pope," at

3) Articles on Yugoslavia, at

4) Articles on antisemitism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and related issues at

5) The Pope's Speech At The Zagreb's Airport (October 2, 1998) at * Emperor's Clothes

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Listed on BlogShares