VIENNA (ChurchMilitant.com) - An outspoken Jewish anthropologist is comparing the Austrian bishops' endorsement of the nation's totalitarian vaccine fiat to the Austrian Catholic hierarchy's support for Hitler under the National Socialist regime.
"The Austrian bishops are yet again guilty of placating evil. They supported the Anschluss [Hitler's annexation of Austria], with Cdl. Innitzer flying the Nazi flag for Hitler," Karen Harradine told Church Militant.
Austria has become the first Western democracy to mandate COVID-19 jabs for its entire adult population, with the government earlier threatening conscientious objectors with fines of 3,600 euros ($4,080) per day and prison sentences if they refuse to pay the prohibitive penalties.
Children down to the age of 14 — Austria's age of criminal responsibility — will be covered by the legislation, and parents held responsible for the noncompliance of their children.
The law, which takes effect on Feb. 1, 2022, will remain active for three years, and will amend Austria's strict data-protection legislation to permit the linkage of private electronic health records with centralized vaccination registers.
On Monday, the Austrian Bishops' Conference issued a statement championing the State's "temporary legal obligation to vaccinate" and emphasizing that the government has full discretionary power to decide if a vaccine mandate "is now the appropriate means to protect the common good."
While appearing to support individual rights by labeling "compulsory vaccination" a "serious interference with the physical integrity and freedom of the individual," the bishops went on to invalidate this qualification by offering the State carte blanche over bodily autonomy.
The bishops added that compulsory vaccination is "only permissible if all other possibilities have been exhausted, taking proportionality into account, in order to protect the population — in the event of a pandemic, the health system and thus human life."
"Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the government to assess whether the prerequisites for this are met," the prelates observed (having already concluded that the pandemic is extremely serious and that vaccines prevent transmission and save lives).
The bishops urged Catholics to be vaccinated, quoting Pope Francis' declaration that "vaccination is an act of charity." Since "previous calls have not been sufficient," the government's legal obligation to force the jab is justified, the bishops argued.
"It is as if the State had written the text of the bishops' statement," Austrian Catholic activist Alexander Tschugguel told Church Militant. "Despite the weasel words and the doublespeak of the statement, it is more than clear our shepherds support the State's health tyranny."
Tschugguel explained that the bishops had not only violated the principle of conscientious objection but also a directive from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that states that vaccination "must be voluntary."
"All the bishops needed to do was to reissue the CDF decree or to insert the sentence from the decree on vaccination not being obligatory," said Tschugguel — who shot to fame after dunking five Pachamama idols in the Tiber River during the Amazon Synod.
The Catholic convert from Lutheranism also confirmed that Austrian democracy had virtually collapsed with the government's refusal to invite Herbert Kickl (leader of Austria's Freedom Party) and other elected representatives to discuss the mandate.
Tschugguel predicted the situation would worsen now that Austria's former interior minister, Karl Nehammer, is the chancellor. Nehammer abused his office as interior minister, giving police disproportionate powers to crack down on the unvaccinated.
Tschugguel told Church Militant that he was prohibited by Austrian law from drawing any comparisons between the prevailing health dictatorship and Austria's capitulation to Hitler under the Third Reich.
Blasting the bishops for "their mediocre and forked-tongued [sic] response to what is essentially the persecution of the other — the unvaccinated," popular writer Karen Harradine told Church Militant that "as a Jew, anthropologist and human being" she was horrified by the prelates' attitude.
"Their use of the words 'common good' in their response are not virtuous words but ruinous ones, steeped in the bloody history of Fascism and socialism," Harradine warned.
"Given that COVID-19 has a low mortality rate and most people who get it experience nothing more than a light cold, the plans of the Austrian regime — for they are no longer a government — to imprison the unvaccinated is [sic] monstrous," Harradine said.
Remarking on "how history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes," the author, who herself experienced both apartheid and anti-Semitism, elaborated:
We cannot compare Austria's tyranny to the Shoah, but we do need to heed the lessons of history. If we do not, then we dishonor my fellow Jews, who suffered and perished. The parallels with 1930s Nazi Germany are stark and have been so for a long time.
Austrian Catholic bishops sure have form when it comes to siding with authoritarian regimes. Why is their response to heinous regimes one of support first and question later? They need to learn that if countries don't honor democracy and freedom, they are always plunged into darkness.
Historian Stefan Moritz documents the shameful alliance between the Nazis and the Catholic hierarchy in his book Grüß Gott und Heil Hitler! Katholische Kirche und Nationalsozialismus in Österreich (Hail God and Heil Hitler! Catholic Church and National Socialism in Austria).
During the Anschluss, Austrian bishops signed a document declaring themselves supporters of National Socialism and asked Catholics to vote in favor of joining the German Reich. The declaration was signed by:
A protocol of the Austrian Bishops' Conference (dated March 20–21, 1939) stated: "Fiftieth birthday of Der Führer — agreement on: sounding of the bells every quarter of an hour on the preceding Sunday, and a sermon with prayer for fatherland and Führer."
By 1942, several Austrian bishops were using the salute "Heil Hitler" to sign off official letters. Bishops also authorized priests to display the swastika.
Rome-based Austrian bishop Alois Karl Hudal bragged about helping over 50,000 war crimes suspects to hide or escape. Among them was Franz Stangl, commander of the Treblinka death camp in Poland, where 800,000 Jews were killed.
In 1940, the Vienna archdiocese asked parishes to "combat the Gypsy chaos" by reporting Gypsies to police — at a time when the Nazis were deporting Gypsies (along with Jews) on the death trains.
Ironically, the Austrian bishops' statement on mandatory jabs condemns attempts to draw parallels with the Nazi regime: "The State measures to contain the pandemic are increasingly related to the Nazi regime of injustice. Such shameful trivializing of Nazi crimes must not be tolerated."
In neighboring Germany, the city of Munich banned demonstrators from wearing Nazi-era yellow stars to protest forced jabs and lockdowns. Anti-lockdown protesters have also dressed in striped inmate uniforms, seeking to draw parallels to concentration camp prisoners.
While the left-wing Anti-Defamation League has condemned the use of Holocaust imagery in anti-vaccine mandate protests, Jews in Israel have also used the symbols to draw comparisons between the Third Reich and the current COVID dictatorship.
Writing satirically on the adverse effects and fatalities caused by the COVID vaccines, Rabbi Chananya Weissman explained why "today's more enlightened methods of mass poisoning" pale in comparison to the barbaric methods used by the Nazis.
"During the Holocaust, there were no Big Tech companies washing the brains of humanity every moment of every day, while censoring dissenters in real time. The Nazis were playing with one hand tied behind their backs compared to their spiritual descendants," wrote Weissman.
"Today's version of the yellow star [the vaccine] has become a badge of honor. It is a meritorious deed to become enslaved, and the symbols of servitude are a badge of honor," the rabbi concluded. "Today's Amalekites ... make Hitler look like a chump."
The archbishop of Salzburg (and chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference) Franz Lackner did not respond to Church Militant's request for comment.