Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Kulturkampf in the News at Last

I realized just today that nobody seems to mention the Kulturkampf as an influence on the German Catholic response to Nazism and an influence on the new pope. A bit of googling led to this article by former Clinton advisor Sid Blumenthal that, while mentioning the Kulturkampf's influence on Ratzinger, is so tendentious as to be worthless for all but political reference.
Blumenthal says:

In response, Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor, launched what he called a Kulturkampf to break the church's hold. He removed the church from the control of schools, expelled the Jesuits, and instituted civil ceremonies for marriage. Bismarck lent support to Catholic dissidents opposed to papal infallibility who were led by German theologian Johann Ignaz von Dollinger. Dollinger and his personal secretary were subsequently excommunicated. His secretary was Georg Ratzinger, great-uncle of the new pope, who became one of the most notable Bavarian intellectuals and politicians of the period. This Ratzinger was a champion against papal absolutism and church centralization, and on behalf of the poor and working class -- and was also an anti-Semite.

"Holy Warriors, originally at

This seems odd, because Georg Ratzinger has an entry in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia which doesn't say a bad thing about him, which one wouldn't expect from that source if its article covered an excommunicated priest. Nor does it mention him working for Dollinger, who also has an entry that does confirm him as an excommunicated supporter of the Kulturkampf. Perhaps there were some creative liberties that fueled this article.

Still, it is telling that an influential Democrat thinks Bismarck's Kulturkampf was all sweetness and light.

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