Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Church as bulwark against totalitarianism

A thoughtful piece from David Aaranovitch in today's Times -- part of the "what do we think of religion now the Pope's coming?" series of articles which have appeared in newspapers in these days. After the usual "well obviously I'm an atheist, and obviously I think religion is silly" paragraphs which begin this genre of article -- establishing one's freethinking credentials early on -- Aaranovitch has a nice twist. He's been speaking to Bernard Shlinck, author of The Reader, about whether nowadays people would better resist Hitler.

Schlink, who has studied this and spoken to people alive in Germany at the time, has observed that those who belonged to some kind of association — often religious — had more capability of avoiding the worst corruption of the Hitler years. It was the Catholic Church that organised against the policy of euthanasia of the handicapped. The individual stood little or no chance of making his or her conscience count in such a battle.