In the news recently was the issue of denying communion to those claiming to be Catholic, but allowing for late term abortions as a form of birth control. The Roman Catholic assumption, if I understand it correctly, is that the human life of a child in utero with detectable brain waves & heart beats should be given the same human rights as a child out of the womb.

At the Nuremberg trials, the Nazi state encouraged late term abortions as a form of birth control was considered a crime against humanity. However, in the defense of the Nazis, SS General Richard Hildebrandt argued:

Up to now nobody had the idea to see the interruption of [any] pregnancy as crime against humanity.

However, Prosecutor McHaney in the trial testimony, considered the unborn as human beings subject to the protection of the law. McHaney argued:

But protection of the law was denied to unborn children [emphasis mine] of the Russian and Polish women in Nazi Germany. Abortions were encouraged and even forced on these women.

Is there any evidence to indicate that the Catholic Church refused communion to those of its members that participated in government encouraged abortions during the Nazi era?

It's interesting to compare the Roman Catholic approach to the Lutheran approach during the Nazi era. Articles, a book & talks can be found of Rev. Henry Gerecke who served as a chaplain during World War II. He was assigned to the war trials of Nuremberg along with a Roman Catholic chaplain. Of particular note is that Goering claimed he was never refused communion by a pastor, though he did not believe. However, after the war, when he was given the conditions for a simple saving faith in Jesus and an acknowledgement of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, he refused to take communion from the chaplain. See 2 minutes into this talk.

Were the Catholics, like the Lutherans, in the practice of giving communion to Nazis without regard to what they did as leaders in the state? A similar question can be found here. But this question is more related to a church's view of denying the sacrament to those encouraging late term abortions as a form of birth control.


1 Answer 1


The Roman Catholic Church formally excommunicated all active members of the Nazi party in 1931.

Quoting from this answer:

In February 1931, the German bishops excommunicated all active Nazi party members. This included Hitler. This penalty was not imposed on those who merely voted Nazi. It was hoped to persuade them by argument. The same policy was in operation against the Communists. - The Catholic Response to Nazism

Excommunicated people are not eligible to receive communion, and so would have been refused it if they had attempted to receive it.

This was long before the Nazi leaders were in a position to effect abortion policy.

  • This is interesting in light of how in 1933, almost 40% of Germany’s population was Roman Catholic. Difficult questions can raised by the participation of, non Nazi party, Catholic priests and seminarians in Hitler’s army. This article explores that issue: repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:103/PDF
    – Jess
    May 22, 2022 at 1:28
  • This answer also raises the question of whether those convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials were all members of the Nazi party?
    – Jess
    May 22, 2022 at 1:41

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