August Hlond

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His Eminence
August Hlond
Cardinal Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw
Primate of Poland
August Hlond portr.jpg
See Primate of Poland
Installed 1926
Term ended 1948
Predecessor Edmund Dalbor
Successor Stefan Wyszyński
Other posts Bishop of Katowice (1925–1926)
Orders
Ordination September 23, 1905
Consecration January 3, 1926
Created Cardinal January 20, 1927
Personal details
Born July 5, 1881
Mysłowice-Brzęczkowice
Died October 22, 1948(1948-10-22) (aged 67)
Warszawa
Buried St. John's Cathedral, Warsaw
Nationality Polish
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Residence Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Warsaw
Parents Jan Hlond (1855–1919) and Maria Hlond (1858–1933)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Sainthood
Venerated in 1992
Styles of
August Hlond
Coat of arms of August Hlond.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Poznań, Gniezno and Warsaw

August Hlond (July 5, 1881 – October 22, 1948) was a Polish cardinal, who was Archbishop of Poznań and Gniezno in 1926 and primate (highest ranking church official) in Poland, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw in 1946. He was the only member of the Sacred College of Cardinals to be arrested and taken into custody by the Gestapo during World War Two, and for the final years of his life was a critic of the Soviet backed Communist regime in Poland.

Early life and Ordination[edit]

Second son of a railway worker, he was born in the Upper Silesian village Brzęczkowice (German: Brzenskowitz), then ruled by Austria, now part of Mysłowice (German: Myslowitz), on 5 July 1881. At twelve-years-of-age, Hlond went to Turin, Italy to study for the priesthood in the Salesian Congregation. He later studied a doctorate of philosophy in Rome, returned to Poland to complete Theology, and was ordained in Cracow in 1905.[1]

In 1909 Hlond was sent to Vienna to be headmaster at a boy's secondary school. He remained in the city for 13 years, and working with spiritual and charitable organisations for Poles, and becoming Provincial of the Salesians for Austria, Hungary and Germany in 1919. Following the break up of Austria-Hungary after World War One, Pope Pius XI appointed Hlond as Apostolic Administrator for Polish Upper Silesia in 1922, and Hlond became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Katowice in 1925.[1]

Bishop and Cardinal[edit]

Hlond was consecrated as Bishop of Katowice on January 3rd, 1926. He succeeded Cardinal Dalbor, as Primate of Poland soon after and in 1927, was appointed as Cardinal Priest of the title of Santa Maria della pace by Pope Pius XI. Through the tumultuous 1930s, Hlond condemned "escapism" and called on the Church should challenge the evil realities of the times, and, speaking 12 languages, became an influential member of the College of Cardinals on the international stage.[1]

In 1932, together with Ignacy Posadzy founded Society of Christ Fathers.[citation needed]

World War Two[edit]

The invasion of predominantly Catholic Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939 ignited the Second World War. The Nazi plan for Poland entailed the destruction of the Polish nation, which necessarily required attacking the Polish Church, particularly in those areas annexed to Germany.[2] In the territories annexed to Greater Germany, the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Catholic Church - arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered. Elsewhere in occupied Poland, the suppression was less severe, though still harsh.[3] The Papal Nuncio to Poland, Fillipo Cortesi had abandoned Warsaw along with the diplomatic corps, after the invasion. Other channels existed for communications, including Cardinal Hlond.[4]

On 18 September 1939, at the request of the Polish Government, Hlond left Poland, with part of the Army, in order to reach Rome and report on the actions of the Nazis in Poland, and inform the world via Vatican radio and press.[1] Hlond submitted an official account of the persecutions of the Polish Church to the Vatican, reporting seizures of church property and abuse of clergy and nuns in the annexed regions:[5]

Many priests are imprisoned, suffering humiliations, blows, maltreatment. A certain number were deported to Germany... Others have been detained in concentration camps... It is not rare to see a priest in the midst of labour gangs working in the fields... Some of them have even been shut up for the night in pigsties, barbarously beaten and subjected to other tortures... The Canon Casimir Stepczynski... was forced in company with a Jew to carry away the human excrement... the curate who wished to take the place of the venerable priest was brutally beaten with a rifle butt

— Excerpts from Cardinal Hlond's report to the Vatican.

In his final observations for Pope Pius XII, Hlond wrote:[5]

Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and fertile territories of Poland which have been incorporated into the Reich... It is known for certain that 35 priests have been shot, but the real number of victims... undoubtedly amounts to more than a hundred... In many districts the life of the Church has been completely crushed, the clergy have been almost all expelled; the Catholic churches and cemeteries are in the hands of the invaders... Catholic worship hardly exists any more... Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed... [Church properties] all have been pillaged by the invaders.

— Excerpts from Cardinal Hlond's report to the Vatican

In 1939 Hlond spent several months in Rome for the conclave of 1939. In January 1940, Vatican Radio broadcast Hlond's reports of German persecution of Jews and the Catholic clergy in Poland. These reports were included in the report of the Polish government to the Nuremberg Trials after the war.[citation needed]

In March 1940, Hlond went on a pilrimage to Lourdes, in France. Following the Fall of France, he remained in the country, staying at the Benedictine Abbey at Hautecombe, in Savoy, where remained, unable to leave, until Himmler ordered the Gestapo to arrest him in February 1944 (the only member of the Sacred College of Cardinals to be arrested by the Nazis). The Gestapo held him at their headquarters in Paris for two months, and, with the Soviet armies now driving the Nazis back from Russia, attempted to have him declare public support for the German war against the Soviet Union, in order to secure his release. The Gestapo offered to make Hlond Regent of Poland, but, according to The Tablet, "The withdrawal of all German troops from Poland was necessary, the Cardinal implacably insisted, before he could even discuss any matter whatsoever with a German officer." Hlond remained in the custody of the Gestapo, first at a convent at Bar-le-Duc, until the Allied advance forced the Germans to shift him to Wiedenbrtick, in Westphalia, where he remained for seven months, until released by American troops in 1945. The Americans flew Hlond to Paris, and then to Rome on April 25th, finally returning to war ravaged Poland on 20 July 1945.[1]

Hlond reported in August 1941 to the secretary of state that the Polish people believed Pope Pius XII had abandoned them. This was said in light of the Nazi persecution of the Polish church and clergy.[citation needed]

After the war[edit]

Hlond's tombstone in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist in St. John's cathedral in Warsaw
Coat of Arms of August Hlond as Archbishop of Gniezno and Poznań (1926-1946)
Coat of Arms of August Hlond as Bishop of Katowice (1925-1926)

Pope Pius XII appointed Hlond as Archbishop of Warsaw, on 4 March 1946 and he was installed on May 30th, amid immense crowds of supporters. The Polish Church faced great challenges: thousands of Polish clergy had been killed by the Nazis, and the Church and the Soviet-sponsored new regime in Poland were soon to clash. Hlond set about placing bishops on the empty Sees and reconnecting the Church with Rome.[1]

He spoke out against the Communist persecution of the Church. He issued a series of Pastoral Letters on behalf of the Polish Church regarding the new Poland, but these faced censorship at the hands of the new regime, and the government launched a nationalisation of church schools. In a May 1947 Pastoral Letter, Hlond wrote that ""Since the days of St. Peter, the Church has not been subjected to a persecution such as that to which she is subjected today". Following Hlond's death in 1948, The Tablet wrote that "the nations of Eastern Europe which lie today beneath the police-regimes imposed from Moscow lost their most powerful spokesman".[1]

He was buried in the crypt of St. John's cathedral in Warsaw. In March 2006 his body was transferred to the Chapel of St. John the Baptist.[6]

Relations with ethnic Germans[edit]

Hlond has been accused of overstepping his authority by forcing German officeholders to resign their church posts in 1945 in favor of Poles, thereby supporting the Polish integration of formerly eastern German territories that had been given to Poland by the Allies as compensation for territory taken by the Soviet Union. Maximilian Kaller was one of the bishops who was removed from his diocese and deported to West Germany. Kaller is now in process of beatification. Another bishop forced out was Carl Maria Splett, Bishop of Danzig.[citation needed]

Relations with Jews[edit]

In 1936, Cardinal Hlond, as Primate of Poland issued a pastoral letter articulating his stance towards Poland's Jews: "There will be a Jewish problem as long as the Jews remain...It is a fact that the Jews fight against the Catholic church, they are free-thinkers, and constitute the vanguard of atheism, bolshevism and revolution. It is true that the Jews are committing frauds, practicing usury, and dealing in white slavery. It is also true that in the schools the Jewish youth is having an evil influence, from an ethical and religious point of view, on the Catholic youth."[7]

Hlond tempered these remarks with admonitions to not harm Jews: "But let us be just. Not all Jews are like that. One does well to avoid Jewish shops and Jewish stalls in the markets, but it is not permitted to demolish Jewish businesses. One should protect oneself against the influence of Jewish morals...but it is inadmissible to assault, hit or injure Jews. In a Jew you should also respect and love a human being and your neighbor." (August Cardinal Hlond's Pastoral Letter of February 29, 1936 which was read from pulpits across the country.) Hlond also offered support for a boycott of Jewish businesses,[8] and indicated a willingness on the part of the church to accept conversion of Jews.[9] Hlond's letter was criticized by Polish Jewish groups, who saw it as offering support and a rationalization for anti-semitism.[10]

However, while Hlond promoted the expulsion of German civilians after World War II, he had always consistently condemned the Nazi persecution of the Jews and had been openly opposed to all actions hurting Jews materially and physically.[citation needed]

Controversy was caused by Hlond's reaction to the Kielce pogrom, that took place in Polish town of Kielce on July 4, 1946. While condemning murders, Hlond denied the racist nature of this crime.[11][12] He saw pogrom as a reaction against Jewish bureaucrats serving Communist regime.[12] This position was echoed by Cardinal Sapieha, who was reported to have said that the Jews brought it on themselves.[11]

Beatification proposal[edit]

The process of beatification is from 1992. Professor Franz Scholz, a German theologian, as well as many others have expressed their opposition to the proposed beatification of Cardinal Hlond. Scholz opposes his actions against post-war German expellees and civilians from territories ceded by Allies to the Polish Republic.[citation needed]

Hierarchical offices[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
N/A
Bishop of Katowice
1925–1926
Succeeded by
Arkadiusz Lisiecki
Preceded by
Edmund Dalbor
Archbishop of Poznań
1926–1946
Succeeded by
Walenty Dymek
Preceded by
Edmund Dalbor
Primate of Poland
1926–1948
Succeeded by
Stefan Wyszyński
Preceded by
Aleksander Kakowski
Archbishop of Warsaw
1946–1948
Succeeded by
Stefan Wyszyński

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g August, Cardinal Hlond; The Tablet; Page 4, 30th October 1948
  2. ^ Jozef Garlinski; Poland and the Second World War; Macmillan Press, 1985; p 60
  3. ^ http://www.yadvashem.org/download/about_holocaust/christian_world/libionka.pdf
  4. ^ Jozef Garlinski; Poland and the Second World War; Macmillan Press, 1985; pp. 71-72
  5. ^ a b The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church; National Catholic Welfare Conference; Washington D.C.; 1942; pp. 34-51
  6. ^ Orczykowski, Andrzej. "Wędrówka ku świętości". niedziela.pl. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Brian A. Porter. Making a Space for Anti-Semitism: The Catholic Hierarchy and the Jews in the early 20th Century. Polin, 16 (2003):415-429.
  8. ^ Joseph Marcus. Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland, 1919-1939. Walter de Gruyter, 1983.
  9. ^ Brian Porter. Anti-Semitism and the Search for a Catholic Modernity. In Robert Blobaum, Ed. Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland. Cornell University Press, 2005:103-123.
  10. ^ Richard S. Levy. Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution. ABC-CLIO, 2005.
  11. ^ a b The Lonely Cold War of Pope Pius XII: The Roman Catholic Church and the Division of Europe Peter C. Kent
  12. ^ a b The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965 Michael Phayer

External links[edit]