The Church's Duty and Failure to Represent Humanity

. . . . The church exists in relation to the world and thus must also define its behavior with regard to the temporal aspect of its existence in the world. On both sides, the spiritual side from revelation and the noetic side from philosophy, the representative function—being human in history—has traditionally been encumbered by the fact that the insight became part of the respective dogma.

This means, that on the one side, the temporal side, there is the insight that the order of society has to be at the level of humanity— in the sense that the nature of man achieves fulfillment in the order of society and has to determine its order. But this insight is restricted, because the order only occurs within a limited community, so that the interests of the limited community in history enter into an amalgam with the general problematic of order at the level of humanity. And the particular interests of a society can thus appear in the cloak of more universal formulations of humanity—and thereby again denature and deform humanity in general.

In the church, the matter is even more critical, because here we have the problem that there is not one particular church but several concrete churches, Evangelical, Catholic, Greek-Orthodox Churches, and so on, each one claiming for itself the specific purity of representation of man under God, which only they can preach. Moreover, this specific historical form again amalgamates with the claim of generality, so that this church with the claim of generality, since it must indeed exist in the world and in specific societies, somehow balances its interests with those of the temporal aspect of the society.

We come again then to the grotesque situations that when a war breaks out anywhere, the priests on both sides willingly explain that the society is engaged in a just war, that the others are really bad types, and that God is always on their side. Always the same God.

That can, in the extreme case, as we have seen in Germany in the National Socialist period, lead to the fact, first, that from the purely ecclesiastical problematic no one is seen as human who does not belong to the church—he lies outside the interests of humanity. And second, when it's a matter of coming to terms with the temporal aspect of the society, the respective church in the specific society will always side with those who are the strongest at the time. And if those who are strongest, as for example the National Socialists, exclude from humanity everyone who is not a National Socialist, then arises the terrible consequence of mass murder, where the church does not intervene.

You must remember, for example, that the Einsatz commandos— who, to make Lebensraum for Germans, perpetrated mass murder on the civilian population in Poland in order to exterminate Poles—were 22 percent Catholic. Yet no representative of the German Catholic Church, and even less any representative of the German Evangelical Church, told any of these members of the SS (if they themselves did not know that already), who very happily still remained members of the church, that one was not allowed to shoot people dead. So, a complete decline, because the historically concrete actions were encumbered with the National Socialist idea that they were representative of the whole of humanity, with the result that the general humanity gets lost.

CW VOL 31,
Descent into the Ecclesiastical Abyss
The Catholic Church,
pp 209-211.