Pro-Axis, pro-Nazi, pro-fascist Pope

I would like to explore the possibility of an openly pro-Axis/pro-Nazi/pro-fascist Pope during WW2.

I tried to brainstorm about who could become this Pope. It would have to be some clergyman with preexisting radical right-wing beliefs that would support these forces once he gets elected by the College of Cardinals. The ones that came to mind were Theodor Innitzer and Alois Hudal. Innitzer seemed the less extreme of the two - he accepted the Anschluss, but then so did many other Austrians. He supported the war against the USSR, but apparently criticized Hitler's anti-Semitic policies. He stated "we must confess our faith in our Führer, for there is just one Führer: Jesus Christ." In general, it seems he put his faith above fascism/Nazism, especially when it seemed the Nazis were trying to suppress the Church in Germany. Naturally, this meant the Nazis were not happy with him.

Now Hudal, on the other hand, was something else. He spoke out about "the Semitic Race" like a typical Nazi, he hated Bolshevism, and he helped Nazi and Ustashe war criminals evade justice. He had some differences with the Nazis, namely regarding the role the Church would play in the future, clashing with the likes of Rosenberg, but overall, he was A-okay with their ideas, even as they were repressing the Church back home. He seems to have put ideology over faith.

So, what if Hudal somehow gets elected Pope? Let's say he understood that being open about his beliefs wouldn't improve his chances on getting the job, so he presents himself as moderate/apolitical, only to show his true colors once elected. To my knowledge, the Pope is considered infallible and his word is absolute within the Church, so he can't be ousted or anything like that, meaning he's here to stay. Hitler (and Mussolini too, I think) don't like Christianity, but in this scenario they see that playing nice could be very useful. They say all the right words ("The Catholic Church will be an integral part of the Thousand-Year Reich!") to get him on side - not hard to do, since he already thinks much like they do. He is convinced that they're sincere, and decides to provide all the support he reasonably can.

The Vatican is officially neutral, so he has no intention of sending Swiss Guards to help with the war effort (not that they would make a difference anyway) - instead, he basically runs interference and provides "moral" support. Persecution of Jews is, at best, ignored. Catholic priests trying to take a stand against Hitler and the Moose are reprimanded and threatened with excommunication. When the war begins, Hudal turns a blind eye to the abuses the Poles have to endure, or even outright justifies German actions as fighting partisans or something. As the Reich scores more victories, Hudal grows more confident, with vague allusions to "enemies of Christianity" growing ever more frequent and vivid. Once France has fallen, he is convinced that the Axis will win, and the quick conquest of Yugoslavia and Greece only reaffirms his belief. On the day of Barbarossa, he throws all caution out the window and openly declares his support for the "Great Crusade against Godless Bolshevism", urging all able-bodied men to join the fight. Presumably, when the war goes sideways, he'll start to backtrack.

1. How much of an effect will this have on the war effort? I'm guessing there will be more support in Catholic countries (obviously except those countries that got thrown under the bus like Poland), though I don't think it will tip the scales. Iron Curtain might end up farther East, but victory is still out of reach.

2. How is the Catholic Church affected in the aftermath? I would expect there to be a lot more disillusion with it. Poland would probably hate them and sever ties, establishing some independent Church instead. The Soviets would be out for blood, but they won't get to Rome in time by a long shot, so they might demand that the Allies put Hudal on trial, as his words were tantamount to a declaration of war.

3. Fate of the Vatican and Holy See? Maybe if people are angry enough, Italy can abrogate the Lateran treaty and re-annex the Vatican, and the Holy See might lose it's sovereignty, instead having to function like all other churches. Not very likely though.

4. Hudal himself. Is he put on trial? Imprisoned? Hanged?
 
I wonder how the Church could function if most of its constituents are opposed to this new pro-Axis bent of Hudal. The Pope technically has absolute authority, yes, but could there be ways to resist less openly, while maintaining that they're still following orders? I don't know enough to say how many priests in the Church would put ideology over faith the way Hudal seemed to do, though my gut tells me "not many". And if everyone said "no", he couldn't excommunicate all of them. If even a majority refused to participate, the Church might not be able to function. What then? Putting cassocks on dedicated fascists and stuffing them in the Church?

Another thing I can't figure out is just how much both Hudal personally and the Church in general would be punished. The Vatican would technically maintain neutrality and wouldn't send any troops to fight anywhere, but the Allies would have to take into consideration that Hudal's influence as Pope extends far beyond the Vatican as a moral and spiritual authority for a lot of people. Might there be a "clean Church" myth analogous to the "clean Wehrmacht"? As in, all the blame would be placed on Hudal alone while ignoring or whitewashing the role of everyone else to avoid offending Catholics. I can imagine this myth being even less accurate if everyone in the Church that takes a firm stand against him and his fascist benefactors gets excommunicated (and possibly imprisoned or killed) and the only ones left are those that played along. But what can the Allies do? Do they even have the legal right dissolve the Vatican and/or take away the sovereignty of the Holy See?

Does anyone have any ideas? Because my creativity and thoughts on this topic have basically been exhausted already. :D
 
People could always quit the Church.
Clergymen that are opposed to Hudal would see the Church as perverted and would either speak out or quit. Problem is, if they're opposed enough to jeopardize they're position or leave of their own accord, they probably won't just throw up their hands and say "well, that's unfortunate" and move on. They'll likely try to resist in other ways, like speaking out as private citizens to alert the laity of the true nature of Hudal's Church, or maybe even contacting or forming resistance movements. As a result, Hudal might come to an understanding with Rome and Berlin that they "take care of" any out-going priests, leaving only the ones that cooperated.

As for the lay people, I don't know. Religion tends to get a pass for a lot of horrible shit. Has the Church lost power since all the child molestation came to light? Hell, has there been a significant increase in people leaving the Church since all that? People will make justifications, they always do. And if all of the Church's crimes were directed at certain groups like the Jews or Roma or communists, groups that weren't exactly accepted back then to begin with, well... "So what?"
 
So how will this affect things in Poland given how integral the Catholic Church is in polish society?
The Nazis were pretty brutal on the Church in Poland IOTL. ITTL, they'll basically have the greenlight from Hudal to be even worse. In the areas annexed directly to Germany in particular, the Church will likely cease to exist, and it won't be pretty in the General Government either. After the war, I imagine there would be a schism between those clergymen that collaborated and those that didn't (and survived). The former group will be much larger and will have the backing of the Holy See (even without Hudal, it will likely be crawling with ex-collaborators who want to maintain a clean image, lest the whole ship goes down and brings them down with it). However, the Polish population will support the few priests that didn't collaborate, meaning they aren't likely to stomach Roman authority for long.

If Poland still goes red, I imagine any collaborators that are stupid enough to stay will be put on trial. There will probably be some formal break with the Roman Catholic Church, and a separate Polish Church might get established. OTL the Church in Poland was the only "acceptable" way of resisting the communist regime. It talked back at the government and there was not much the occupiers could do, as it had ties beyond Soviet reach (there was even a Polish Pope later on). Catholicism became inextricably linked with nationalism. Given the separation and consequent lack of foreign ties ITTL, it will have a harder time resisting the Soviet-backed regime. In the long run, Poland would likely end up less religious today.
 
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The Nazis saw the largely catholic centrist parties as a threat and murdered leading catholic prients who spoke against them (eg Father Klausener in mid 1934). They also imposed their own take on Christianity.
This doesn't exclude the possibility of a pro-nazi pope but it is the hardest to overcome, at least after mid 1934.
So you'd probably need a papal election in late 1933 or early 1934 where job creation and relative stability is seen as a good thing but before the murderous side of the Nazis was laid bare in the Night of the Long Knives.
 
The Nazis saw the largely catholic centrist parties as a threat and murdered leading catholic prients who spoke against them (eg Father Klausener in mid 1934). They also imposed their own take on Christianity.
This doesn't exclude the possibility of a pro-nazi pope but it is the hardest to overcome, at least after mid 1934.
So you'd probably need a papal election in late 1933 or early 1934 where job creation and relative stability is seen as a good thing but before the murderous side of the Nazis was laid bare in the Night of the Long Knives.
It would help a bit I suppose, but the vibe I got from reading about Hudal is that he wouldn't much care. Even while priests were getting repressed, monasteries closed and Catholic institutions banned, he continued to support Hitler. Seems to me that he wants the Church to have a role in the future New Oder, but any naysayers within can be "removed".
 
Hmmm... honestly, this could have some major rammifications over during and after the War.

The Catholic folk over of the United States would no doubt be in something of a crisis of faith here in seeing the Pope himself support such atrocious acts and so on. I don't know if this may cause either conversions or possibly something more radical.

A new Schism.

While I could see the Catholic churches of the US and possibly Canada splitting off from the one in Rome to operate independently. We know some of it happened before, like here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Catholicism#Subsequent_departures_from_the_Catholic_Church

However, as for Latin America, I can see a potential movement for the Catholic Churches to actually splint off and become their own branch, much like what happened with the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. I could see this being combined with nationalist sentimentalities over self-rule rather than be influenced over by Rome. I don't know the potential religious leaders that could do this though.
 
Hmmm... honestly, this could have some major rammifications over during and after the War.

The Catholic folk over of the United States would no doubt be in something of a crisis of faith here in seeing the Pope himself support such atrocious acts and so on. I don't know if this may cause either conversions or possibly something more radical.

A new Schism.

While I could see the Catholic churches of the US and possibly Canada splitting off from the one in Rome to operate independently. We know some of it happened before, like here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Catholicism#Subsequent_departures_from_the_Catholic_Church

However, as for Latin America, I can see a potential movement for the Catholic Churches to actually splint off and become their own branch, much like what happened with the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. I could see this being combined with nationalist sentimentalities over self-rule rather than be influenced over by Rome. I don't know the potential religious leaders that could do this though.
How effective would these attempts to split off be, in your opinion? I'm having a hard time imagining how it would play out if half the Catholics in, let's say, Argentina want to maintain ties to Rome, while the other half want to go independent. Priests from opposing sides can't exactly duke it out on the streets.

And how would the CC cope with losing influence across entire chunks of the planet as you described? Might the continued sovereignty of the Holy See or existence of the Vatican city state be called into question?

Thanks for your thoughts. :)
 
How effective would these attempts to split off be, in your opinion? I'm having a hard time imagining how it would play out if half the Catholics in, let's say, Argentina want to maintain ties to Rome, while the other half want to go independent. Priests from opposing sides can't exactly duke it out on the streets.

And how would the CC cope with losing influence across entire chunks of the planet as you described? Might the continued sovereignty of the Holy See or existence of the Vatican city state be called into question?

Thanks for your thoughts. :)
Honestly, it would likely have to be voted within each nation. Could see like a majority of the churches of say Mexico aligning together and forming their own religious group and then over time, if this would butterfly in South America, then this would likely prompt them coming together to form their own version of the Holy See over for the Americas. Honestly, while some nationalists may try to lean for state churches, I could see more that if they do it together, they would form then let's see the New American Catholic Church or something along those lines.

State churches honestly may be more likely though it would depend per area and the organizational skills and the details. Central America may for example have a unified church while Mexico goes its own way (especially given we've got one party rule there for a while). South America is a toss-up and I could see the indigenous people try to exploit this as they would decide which choice could allow them more influence. State churches in theory may do so, especially if they remain seperated, then the dogma may change.

Honestly, if the Americas abandoned the CC, then it'd be a pretty startling blow, but not crippling, at least at first. I do reckon that Eurocentralism would be more in their minds and it is only later when the dust settles may they realize what they lost.
 
If the Pope is signing off entire catholic communities in Poland to the benefit of nazism alone, then he is more a nazi than he is a Pope!
 
If the Pope is signing off entire catholic communities in Poland to the benefit of nazism alone, then he is more a nazi than he is a Pope!
But if the conclave picks the wrong pope I don't think there's much they can do.
Maybe Nazis didn't look that bad when the cardinals voted - eg in early 1934, and then it's a collective case of "Whoops!" and probably a long-lived and active pope to just rub it in.
 
If the Pope is signing off entire catholic communities in Poland to the benefit of nazism alone, then he is more a nazi than he is a Pope!
Yep, that's the idea!

Honestly, it would likely have to be voted within each nation. Could see like a majority of the churches of say Mexico aligning together and forming their own religious group and then over time, if this would butterfly in South America, then this would likely prompt them coming together to form their own version of the Holy See over for the Americas. Honestly, while some nationalists may try to lean for state churches, I could see more that if they do it together, they would form then let's see the New American Catholic Church or something along those lines.

State churches honestly may be more likely though it would depend per area and the organizational skills and the details. Central America may for example have a unified church while Mexico goes its own way (especially given we've got one party rule there for a while). South America is a toss-up and I could see the indigenous people try to exploit this as they would decide which choice could allow them more influence. State churches in theory may do so, especially if they remain seperated, then the dogma may change.

Honestly, if the Americas abandoned the CC, then it'd be a pretty startling blow, but not crippling, at least at first. I do reckon that Eurocentralism would be more in their minds and it is only later when the dust settles may they realize what they lost.
Would it only be the Americas? I'm no expert on the CC and its influence, but if staunchly Catholic Latin Americans decide to go their own way, I imagine a lot of others throughout the world would too.
 
This probably majorly undercuts post war Christian democrats across Europe. In France and Italy, that might mean less obstacles to communist or communist dominated governments. It would significantly alter the national narrative in Italy for example, where you had Catholics and Communists both being against fascism. Elsewhere, well, Belgium and the Netherlands would likely see far weaker Christian Democratic and catholic parties. That could mean that the PvdA might get enough seats in the 1940s to exclude them from government, ally with the liberals half a century earlier. In Belgium, I don’t know what ramifications it could have in the King crisis. Depending on what lay Catholics and the lower priests do, might we see an abdication, or even a republic?
 
I wonder if this could lead to a temporary split between British Empire Catholics and the rest - which could become permanent after the war and then change the shape of Anglican-Catholic ecumenism and even potentially the Troubles?
 
This probably majorly undercuts post war Christian democrats across Europe. In France and Italy, that might mean less obstacles to communist or communist dominated governments. It would significantly alter the national narrative in Italy for example, where you had Catholics and Communists both being against fascism. Elsewhere, well, Belgium and the Netherlands would likely see far weaker Christian Democratic and catholic parties. That could mean that the PvdA might get enough seats in the 1940s to exclude them from government, ally with the liberals half a century earlier. In Belgium, I don’t know what ramifications it could have in the King crisis. Depending on what lay Catholics and the lower priests do, might we see an abdication, or even a republic?
Not necessarily. Christian Democrats Mmay lean more toward non-Catholic leanings and potential influences for that, though I do see there being definitive weakenings there.
 
2. How is the Catholic Church affected in the aftermath? I would expect there to be a lot more disillusion with it. Poland would probably hate them and sever ties, establishing some independent Church instead. The Soviets would be out for blood, but they won't get to Rome in time by a long shot, so they might demand that the Allies put Hudal on trial, as his words were tantamount to a declaration of war.
Hmm, I think the Old Catholic movement, the Liberal Catholic movement, and for Poland in particular the Mariavite Churches would all get a major boost from this. I don't think most people would abandon Catholicism as a whole, but Roman Catholicism is probably screwed in this TL.

As for state churches like others have mentioned, I'd be interested if there was any contemporary movements at the time that aimed for creating an "Anglican" situation? I know that IRL Dr. Francia of Paraguay nationalized the Catholic Church, but that was WAY before this. Can't think of any others. I can definitely see it happening though.
 
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