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July 29, 1988 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-29

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about the deportations and
mass murders almost as soon
as they had begun. Had the
pope, in 1941 or 1942 in-
structed his officials all over
Europe to do what he finally
charged them to do in 1944 in
Hungary, instead of timidly
allowing each nuncio and of-
ficial a free hand, more
Jewish victims might certain-
ly have been saved. ,

Individual Catholics did
rescue Jews; an estimated
4,000 priests were killed in
concentration camps; cons-
cientious people like
Lichtenberg and Kolbe, Car-
dinal Faulhaber of Munich,
Archbishop Szeptycki or Lvov,
the Ursuline Sisters risked
and in some cases sacrificed
their lives out of their faith.
The voices they heard were
still, small ones inside of
them. They did not hear the
voice of the spiritual leader of
their church — publicly
silent, publicly creating a
moral vacuum.
In my experience interview-
ing non-Jewish rescuers, or in
reading the written testi-
monies of Catholics who risk-
ed their lives to hide or
somehow assist Jews, not one
has cited the pope's spiritual
leadership; not one has men-
tioned the 1937 encyclical;
not one has referred to the
saintly model set by the Vicar
of Christ.
The deportment of the pope
must be placed in the context
of that epoch. Innuendo and
subtle condemnation in the
face of such catastrophe ob-
viously did little or nothing to
halt the murder. Beyond
religious sensibilities lie the
facts of the destruction of
families and the silence of
Were I to refer to Chrsitian
theologians, one of them
would be the Rev. Franklin
Littell, who wrote that "the
murder of 6 million Jews by
baptized Christians, from
whom membership in good
standing was not (and has
not been) withdrawn, raises
the most insistent question
about the credibility of Chris-
The actions of the Catholic
Church during the Holocaust
are part of the history of the
Holocaust and cannot be ex-
amined as if the Vatican and
the pope existed in a self-
contained world. I have no
"old scores with the Catholic
Church" to settle, only the
concerns of honest and ac-
curate scholarship. Tenden-
tiousness and "selective cita-
tion of facts" appear to be in
the eyes of the beholder.

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