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Reich Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich (July 20, 1933)

Although the Catholic Church represented only a third of the German population, the Nazi regime saw it as a particular challenge. On a political level, Catholic interests were traditionally represented by the Center Party. Moreover, as an international institution, the church rested upon a considerable power base. The following Reich Concordat, which was supposed to regulate the relationship between the German Reich and the Catholic Church, was signed by representatives of both entities on July 20, 1933, and ratified on September 10 of the same year. The Vatican, which sympathized with the Nazi regime’s anti-liberal, anti-Communist stance, hoped that by withdrawing from all political areas it could buy a legal guarantee of its special institutional rights – i.e., self-administration and confessional freedom. Although the Nazi regime had no intention of keeping its contractual obligations, it did appreciate the international prestige this agreement brought and hoped that it would placate the Catholic Church for the time being.

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Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich

His Holiness Pope Pius XI and the President of the German Reich, moved by the common desire to consolidate and promote the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the German Reich, and wishing to regulate lastingly, in a manner satisfying to both parties, the relations between the Catholic Church and the State for the entire territory of the German Reich, have decided to conclude a solemn agreement supplementing the concordats concluded with individual German States and also ensuring for the remaining states a fundamentally uniform treatment of the questions to which it pertains.

For this purpose:

His Holiness Pope Pius XI has appointed as his Plenipotentiary His Eminence the Most Reverend Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, his Secretary of State.

The President of the German Reich has appointed as Plenipotentiary the Vice Chancellor of the German Reich, Herr Franz von Papen.

Who, having exchanged their respective credentials and found them to be in good and proper form, have agreed on the following articles:

Article 1.

The German Reich guarantees the freedom of the profession and public practice of the Catholic religion.

It recognizes the right of the Catholic Church, within the limits of the law that applies to all, to regulate and administer her own affairs independently, and, within the framework of her competence, to publish laws and ordinances binding on her members.

Article 2.

The concordats concluded with Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929), and Baden (1932) remain in force, and the rights and liberties of the Catholic Church recognized in them remain unchanged within the territories of the respective states. For the other states the agreements reached in the present Concordat apply in their entirety. The latter are also binding for the three States named above in so far as they deal with matters not regulated by the State Concordats or supplement the regulations previously adopted.

In the future, the conclusion of concordats with individual States shall be effected only in accord with the Government of the Reich.

Article 3.

In order to foster good relations between the Holy See and the German Reich, an Apostolic Nuncio will as heretofore reside in the capital of the German Reich and an Ambassador of the German Reich at the Holy See.

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