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[ this file's actual name is :]
Roman-Catholic heroes

heroic individuals who
saved Jews on their own :

        As of 08 / 26 / 10 , 23,226 non-Jews who risked their own lives to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust had been officially recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous among the Nations".
        Thanks to the great Schindler's List movie that Spielberg made about his great exploits, most everyone knows the story of Oskar Schindler. What I would like to do here is publicize some of the less well-known heroes.

The heroism of "the White Rose" society:

With only a tiny fraction of the resources available to the powerful Catholic and Lutheran churches, five university students in Munich formed a secret society which managed to learn what the Nazi agenda was all about and published six leaflets they produced on hand-crank mimeograph machines. Knowing full well that it would cost them their lives, they managed to distribute between 6 and 9 thousand copies before the Gestapo caught them and sent them to the guillotine.
        In their first leaflet they wrote, "It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes ... reach the light of day?
       In their second, " Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way ... The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals ... Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!" [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose ]

"Red Orchestra",
the story of the Berlin underground

and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler, by Anne Nelson, Random House (2009)
        The story of a 100 or so loosely allied individuals who strove to counter the masses who blindly followed Hitler, and demonstrated what people with moral courage could do even without the help of powerful institutions like the churches.

a Portuguese priest who saved
dozens of Roman Jews from the Holocaust

As a member of Rome's Pontifical College from 1940 to 1954, Dom Joaquin Carreira hid Jews and others wanted by the Nazi authorities, first in 1943 from the security forces of Italy's Fascist government, which was an ally of Nazi Germany, and then from the Nazi occupiers of Italy, through to the end of World War II in 1945.

As Portugal's envoy to France
when it was under Nazi control,
Aristides de Sousa Mendes saved
about 30,000 people, 10,000 of them Jews.

AristidesDeSousaMendesSince his Fascist government was unofficially allied with the Axis powers, this very devout Roman Catholic had to disobey his government's direct orders not to help those fleeing Nazi persecution. In the decades following World War II, he was consigned to ignominy by his own government as a reward for his actions. Stripped of his job and pension, he and his family were forced into a life of poverty even past his death in 1954.
        see http://forward.com/news/world/306652/a-righteous-diplomat-disgraced-for-saving-jews/
        Here is a link to a lengthy article from the "JewishWeekly" online magazine that features the heroism of the above Aristides de Sousa Mendes along with several others, i.e.

Several other heroes :

Irena-Sendler.jpgIrena Sendler (1910 – 2008)
a heroic social worker.

A social worker named Irena Sendler (who like most Poles at the time was a Roman Catholic) is credited with risking her own life repeatedly to smuggle some 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto and saving them from almost certain death. Catholics may try to steal her glory, but she attributed her motivation - not to her church, but - to her parents who taught her that she "was ethically bound to help a drowning person even if she could not swim herself." (See http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/printedition/sunday/chi-sendler_bdoct21,0,1265159.story?page=2&coll=chi-newsopinionperspective-utl ). Her church, by contrast, consistently maintained that it couldn't risk injury to itself as an institution in order to try to help the Jewish people,

The heroism of ordinary housewives :

"Though the Nuremberg laws had forbidden marriages between Jews and Aryans, they had not annulled existing mixed marriages.  With the progress of the Final Solution, however, this loophole was now to be closed. . . (And so, in 1943) the Gestapo seized several thousand Christian non-Aryans (i.e. Jewish converts) in mixed marriages.  In Berlin alone about 6,000 such men were arrested on February 27.  But then something unexpected and unparalleled happened: their Aryan wives followed them to the place of temporary detention and there they stood for several hours screaming and howling for their men.  With the secrecy of the whole machinery of destruction threatened, the Gestapo yielded and the non-Aryan husbands were released.  Here was an example of what an outraged conscience could achieve, even against Hitler's terror apparatus.
        The German episcopate, after the downfall of the Nazi regime, has taken credit for preventing the compulsory divorce of mixed marriages.  There is strong reason to assume that the lion's share of the credit belongs to the courageous women of Berlin who, in the last days of February 1943, dared to defy the seemingly all-powerful Gestapo and caused the Nazis to fear similar outbursts in the future if they moved to break up these marriages by divorce or deportation."  [ Lewy, pp. 288-289 ]

NuncioAngeloRoncaliAngelo Roncalli (1958-1963)

When the future liberal pope John XXIII was the papal nuncio in Turkey, Angelo Roncalli was so heroic in his efforts to save Jews that he has been honored with the title of "Righteous among the Nations". But Jews have made a point of saying that Roncalli acted alone, not as Pope Pius XII's official representative.
        "A special recognition deserves Nuncio Roncalli's decision of sending priests from different countries "temporary baptismal certificates", religious documents that allowed thousands of Jews to save their lives. The historical and documentary sources brought together in this work clearly prove that Nuncio Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli acted in his humanitarian actions by his own initiative, without following express orders of any Vatican hierarchy, in a disinterested and altruistic way." (from a summary of extensive research done on this subject by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
        Although Catholic apologists try to credit Pope Pius XII with saving the lives of 860,000 Jews, Jews view Pius XII very differently and have resisted efforts to have him declared one of the "Righteous among the Nations".

Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa

The archbishop of Florence was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in 2012 for "the central role he played during World War II in the organization and operation of a widespread rescue network.
[ www.db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=9606411 ] along with one of the Cardinal's heroic allies (in 2013), the devout Catholic Gino Bartali, Italy's wartime cycling champ and—unbeknownst to all but a few—secret agent for the Italian Resistance who saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust.
[ www.thedailybeast.com/a-cycling-legends-secret-war-mission-saving-italys-jews ]

The Catholic Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky

MetropolitanAndreiSheptytskyHe was the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for nearly half a century until his death on November 1, 1944. In February 1942, the Metropolitan dared to lodge a protest with Heinrich Himmler against the destruction of the Galician Jewish community. The Nazi functionary who delivered Himmler's response bluntly told the Metropolitan that if it were not for his age, he would have been shot for meddling in matters that should not concern him. The Metropolitan saw things differently. He persisted with works of Christian charity. He soon mobilized a Christian opposition to Nazi rule in western Ukraine. He let the Vatican know what was happening, in late August 1942, when he wrote to Pope Pius XII, alerting the Holy Father to the "almost diabolical" nature of the German regime. A few days later he repeated that condemnation in a letter to Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, Prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches.
        He also encouraged Christian resistance. Working with his brother, Klymenti, leader of Lviv's Studite monks, the Metropolitan gathered together a small army of nuns and priests who would risk their own lives in clandestine rescue and sanctuary operations. False baptismal certificates were arranged for no less than 200 Jewish children, who were then smuggled to monasteries, orphanages and convent schools in and around Lviv. All of these children's lives were saved – fifteen in the Metropolitan's own residence. This at a time when sheltering Jews was a criminal offense punishable by death. Rabbi Dr. David Kahana also survived thanks to the Metropolitan's intervention. Later he drew up a list of over 240 Ukrainian Catholic priests who saved Jews. This good rabbi noted that his list was not exhaustive.
        The lives of thousands of Ukrainian Jews were saved at the Metropolitan's command. And all remember how, in November 1942, Metropolitan Sheptytsky issued what was to become his best-known pastoral letter, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." His message on the sanctity of human life was a clear condemnation of genocide."
[ from http://www.ukrweekly.com/old/archive/1998/189815.shtml ]
        He was honored with the 'Jan Karski Courage to Care Award' during the Anti Defamation League's centennial meeting in November, 2013.

Jan Karski, the unbelievably brave spy


Jan grew up as a Roman Catholic in a very Jewish part of Poland. As a member of the Polish underground he spent most of his twenties going behind the Nazi lines, into the Warsaw ghetto and into concentration camps and then reporting on the horrors he had witnessed personally to Polish, French, British, Jewish, Catholic and American authorities, even including President Roosevelt. Sadly, his valuable reports were so "incredibly" horrible that some of those authorities didn't believe them, until months later, when they had been confirmed by other sources.
        Jan has been recognized as a "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. See more at
[ www.sdjewishworld.com/2015/12/15/jan-karskis-holocaust-reports-were-unheeded/ and
www.christiansanonymous.info/honoring-the-catholic-spy-who-warned-about- the-holocaust-jewish-world-features-haaretz-daily-newspaper-israel-news ]

Father Patrick Desbois,
documentarian of "the Eastern Holocaust"

LastUkrainianJew Father Desbois is a French priest who set out to document what he called "the Eastern Holocaust".  Whereas the well-known holocaust in western Europe was organized and methodical, the eastern holocaust (in what later became the Soviet Union), was chaotic, decentralized and undocumented.
       "German officers wanted to appear efficient, so they documented one mass grave and declared the place 'judenfrei' (free of Jews). In reality, the killings went on for years," he says. "The only way of documenting these [other] graves is asking the locals. Time's running out, and we're the only organization on the ground there."
        "One of the iconic images of this holocaust is this photo, found in a German soldier's photo album with the inscription on the back : 'The last Jew in Vinnitsa' (an important city in the Ukraine) 1941."

During the course of the last decade, Father Patrick Desbois and his team from Yahad in Unum, a French organisation dedicated to Christian-Jewish understanding, have recorded conversations with more than 1,000 witnesses to the mass murders on Hitler's Eastern Front. So far they have discovered some 850 unmarked gravesites – the majority of them previously unknown – including a site at Bodgdanivka which contained the remains of some 42,000 Jews."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/a-holy-mission-to-reveal-the-truth-about-nazi-death-squads-1690595.html as of 05 / 26 / 09

Poland issues coins honoring
Poles who saved Jews

"Some 30,000 to 40,000 Jews survived the occupation of Poland because of such (heroic Catholic) families". http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/03/11/3092075/poland-to-issue-coins-honoring-poles-who-saved-jews

Not so fast, Giovanni Palatucci !

For several years, his country and his church thought that this police chief had been a savior of thousands of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Italy in the 1940's. But more recent research suggests that despite being sent to Dachau and dying there at age 35, far from being "the Schindler of Italy",   Palatucci had been more likely a villain   than a hero in those years. ( see the 2013 report at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/downfall-how-the-italian-schindler-was-exposed-as-a-nazi-collaborator-8667485.html )
        Reponding to the Vatican's attempt to discredit the above report, another serious news outlet published the following :
        "The New York Times article said more than a dozen scholars from the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish History in New York reviewed nearly 700 documents before concluding that Palatucci was a Nazi collaborator and not a savior of Jews. Among other things, the scholars concluded that Palatucci was sent to Dachau not because he helped Jews but because German occupiers accused him of embezzlement and treason."

Father Salvatore Rufino Niccacci, who risked his life to save 300 Jews in Assisi said of Pope Pius XII: "Isn't his role as the spiritual leader of the Church more important than his role of politician or head of state?. . . Why have You not given us a leader who would have stood up to the devil who twisted Your cross?"
The Assisi Underground:The Priests Who Rescued Jews, p.175

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