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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Maybe Bonhoeffer wasn't wrong

I saw mention in a comment to a post at Women in Theology of an upcoming book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer which asserts that he was not, after all, linked to attempts to kill Hitler. You can listen to a podcast lecture on the subject by Mark Thiessen Nation, professor of theology at Eastern Mennonite University, here (scroll to the bottom of the post)

I find this pretty interesting - I have a past post, Bonhoeffer was wrong, in which I argue that he disregarded the pacifism of the sermon on the mount by advocating a murder attempt and I quote an article by Raymond A. Schroth SJ - Bonhoeffer was wrong.

When I think of Bonhoeffer I think of Alfred Delp SJ, a German Jesuit also executed for his resistance to the Nazi régime. I wonder if they knew each other. Mary Frances Coady writes in With Bound Hands: A Jesuit in Nazi Germany : The Life and Selected Prison Letters of Alfred Delp ..... He also shared Tegel [prison] with Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the last twelve days of the latter's stay there; Bonhoeffer's cell was in another part of the prison where more privileges were granted, so the two most likely never met.

You can download an interesting article on Delp and Karl Rahner - 'A Symbol Perfected in Death: Rahner's Theology and Alfred Delp (1907-1945)', The Way, 43/4 (October 2004), 67-82 - by Philip Endean SJ at his website under the heading 'publications'.


2 Comments:

Blogger Carnival said...

I wonder if it is not wrong for us to question Bonhoeffer's actions even if he was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. After all, the German Lutheran Church was not even fighting Hitler. It was utterly indifferent to Nazism. To Bonhoeffer, Hitler was pure evil. He had to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's (yes) but he also had to render unto to God what's God's. When pure evil claims to be God, this is when action is absolutely necessary, this is when Caesar cannot be tolerated anymore. Is it wrong to kill a man who murdered 2/3 of the Jews in Europe? All people are God's children. Following the commandments can never be an excuse to not follow God and to be indifferent to suffering and persecution in the world.

3:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Carnival,

You're right - I don't think we should ever be indifferent to suffering, and that's one reason I so dislike Pope Pius XII, who should have done much more, I believe, to help the Jews during the Holocausr.

I'm especially aware too of how awful anti-Semitism is and how the Catholic Church has contributed to it over the centuries, and I'm probably among the few political "liberals" who supports Israel.

But I don't think a Christian preacher should condone or collude in murder. Jessus preached non-violence. That doesn't mean efforts shouldn't be made to stop bad people from hurting others. But to say murder is only wrong if you're murdering the wrong people seems like a scary slippery slope to me.

3:51 PM  

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