Lecture examines role of priests in Hitler Germany

According to an announcement received by Historic City News today, on September 26, the Judeo-Christian Lecture Series at Flagler College will feature Father Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., who will speak on “Entreaty and Supplication: Catholic Clergy and Jews in Hitler’s Germany”.

Spicer’s current work explores the varying ways Catholic priests responded to persecution of Jews through the end of World War II.

The Spicer address examines what Catholic priests did in regard to speaking out for Jews and is part of the Cecile & Gene Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series; made possible through a generous endowed gift to Flagler College.

“Under Hitler’s rule, a minority of German Catholic clergy spoke out on behalf of Jews; the majority did not,” Spicer said. “Even among those who raised their voices, religious anti-Semitism was often present and, of course, like much of history, the answers are not black and white.”

Spicer’s public presentation takes place in the Flagler College Auditorium, 14 Granada St. at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 26th. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not required. Sign language interpreters are provided.

In addition to Spicer’s public address, he will also work with Flagler College students and faculty, and will lead discussions on topics including theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the “Brown Priests” who worked for the Third Reich.

Spicer is the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College, Easton, Massachusetts. His research centers on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the German state under National Socialism. He was the first researcher given access to privileged archives where clergy were listed by the Nazis for their political allegiances.

“I am in the process of examining the entire spectrum of responses within the Catholic Church to the Holocaust,” Spicer said. This work is the topic of his next book, tentatively titled “Catholics, Nazis, Jews: The Complexities of History”.

About the series: His love of St. Augustine inspired Gene Usdin, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at Louisiana State University School of Medicine and former president of the American Psychiatric Association, to give back to the community by fostering dialogue about Jewish and Christian principles. Through his endowed gift to Flagler College, the Cecile & Gene Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series of presentations were created.

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