Fr Malak was taken  by a priest friend to meet a German priest whom he’d met. They went to the chapel first.

“Come on” whispered Fr Kentenich.

When we got to the porch, he said “Let’s go to the bathroom, it’s empty at this time of day – we won’t find a better place”.

We sit on chests standing next to the wall. The conversation unfolds. Fr Kentenich makes ever longer contributions, and they turn into a sort of lecture.

“What we’ve been experiencing for years, whether it be communism, the oldest of these currents, or fascism, or nazism, in other words national socialism, is nothing else than a battle for the soul of man. That is why all religion, and especially the Catholic religion,  is for all of these currents an intolerable competitor. They themselves grow to a kind of religion, elevating the cult of some leader, surrounding him with a mysterious nimbus and wrapping him in legends even during his lifetime. All these currents want to take man entirely as their property. That is why there is less a battle for territory these days, though that also happens, but rather a battle for the man who inhabits those territories.


When one looks at the history of our Church, one can see that we had periods of heresies going in different directions. Thus the first centuries of Christianity bring one heresy after another against Our Lord himself. Then a second great age succeeded, that of heresies against the Church, against the Holy See. Today, and people are so little aware of it, we’ve entered into an entirely new age, th age of heresies concerning man himself, as a child of God and as a being created in the image and likeness of God. In the place of man, created as an individual, with free will and reason, given individual gifts and talents by the Creator, enriched individually by the grace of God, these currents want to create man of the mass, man of the collective, man a soulless cog in the organism of the state or the party, or some organisation in general, man who is not allowed to think ofr himself, not allowed to decided for himself, since he has only one obligation: to execute what has been thought up, planned, decided and ordered for him the will of one man.


You’re both theologians, so you won’t misunderstand what I’m going to say. Our religious orders sin somewhat in the same way, pushing obedience too far. There’s more than one superior, and especially among religious sisters, that she and only she has the right to use reason, and the sisters under her are merely reasonless executors of her will. This is so very close to contemporary anthropological heresies. Just as Jansenism once crept into the life of believers and caused untold damage before it was noticed, so anthropological heresies have cunningly broken into religious life and a good deal of time will pass before we chase it out. But to return to the subject. We live in a time of terrible heresies that are precisely anthropological, which rule out man as an individual, created in the image of God, a free and rational individual, and in his place want to train a soulless executor of the will of him who rules a given society. They want to make of man a soulless robot, or at least a trained animal. Therefore none of these currents tolerates any other political or social grouping that would direct man in a different direction, and is driven to fury by every religion holding the rule of souls in its hands.


That is why Hitler declared such a rabid war against religions, and espiically the Catholic religion. Now, during the war, when he realises that he would alienate to the very end those millions of German Catholics, he has greatly restrained his aggression. All the more, though, he deliberately destroys all religion in the occupied lands, and especially those which his delusions say will belong forever to us, to Germany. That’s why there are most of you in Dachau, most Polish priests. He plans to create a “German nation church”, in which he, as the head of the state, would be at the same time its head. […] He desires that in Germany the head of the state would be the same head of the national church as the Russian czar was, as the English king is. Then the horrendous moloch of a godless state would truly possess also power over souls. “

– “But, Father,” interrupts Zdzich, “your German nation, your nation of thinkers, poets, writers …”

“And Prussian military discipline” finished Fr Kentenich. “Don’t forget that this nation has for years been fed blind, unthinking standing “to attention” – from the emperor to the least corporal in the army.  This education brought forth its fruits. What do we need? Education in democracy, based on evangelical humanism. Only when we educated generations on these principles, with full respect to the person as an individual, having full rights to deciding of himself in the context of the teaching of the gospel and ethics, only then will we be able to speak of our rebirth. But, [here he spoke slowly, with emphasis] also of the rebirht of the contemporary world. The anthropological heresies that found ideal fodder in our German nation, in the Italian, in the Russian, not knowing sacred democratic freedom and accustomed to the despotism of the emperors – these heresies infect to a greater or lesser degree most peoples in the world.”

“Where do you see the means of counteracting this, Father? What is the medicine, what…”

“Only one!” he interruped. “The return of man to God and to the principles of His teaching. Man’s realisation that he is not just some higher kind of animal, but a child of God. Man’s divinisation by grace, by participation in the sacraments. In a word,  all our work must consist in this, in going to every individual, regardless of skin colour or nationality or langauge, to enkindle love in him or her. Not by word alone, but in act and example. The whole of our battle in the coming half centure will have this one goal, to pull man out of the spiritual kolhoz and lead him into the gate of the freedom of the child of God. …”

*   *   *

Two years late,  Nazi court president Freisler, … sitting in judgement on count Moltke in connection with the assasination attempt on Hitler, will say “Count, Catholicism and National Socialism have in common this, and only this: that we, as they, demand that the whole person belong to us!”