French Catholic Church Apologizes to Jews for Its Silence
During the Holocaust
On the eve of the 57th anniversary of the passing of the first anti-Semitic laws by the French government, the French bishops of the Catholic Church have issued an apology to God and the Jewish people for the church's silence during the Holocaust. According to Reuters, the apology was read on September 30 during a ceremony at Drancy outside Paris, where many French Jews were held before being transferred to the death camp at Auschwitz. The bishops' statement says that the Catholic Church of France "shoulders the blame for not helping the Jews right at the start when protests were possible and necessary." The statement goes on to say, "We implore the pardon of God and ask the Jewish people to hear our words of repentance."
Rabbi Charles Liche, who was sent to Drancy after being arrested in a Paris synagogue at age 15, told Reuters that he was pleased that the ceremony took place, though it ought to have taken place 20 years ago. Said Rabbi Liche, "I was taken from Drancy by French gendarmes, put on a Paris bus driven by a French driver and taken east on a French train driven by French railwaymen. I didn't see a German until the SS whipped us off the boxcars on arrival.''
©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson