23 August: On this day, 1942; without comment.

Archbishop Jules-Gérard Saliège

During the German Occupation, Monsignor Saliège, the Archbishop of Toulouse, worked to improve the Jews’ situation in the detention camps of southwestern France. When he learned about the first deportations from there to the Drancy transit camp, on Sunday August 23 1942 he ordered all priests in the archdiocese of Toulouse to proclaim without comment this message, drafted with the women setting up networks to protect Jews:  

Et clamor Jerusalem ascendit.*

“Women and children, fathers and mothers treated like cattle, members of a family separated from one another and dispatched to an unknown destination – it has been reserved for our own time to see such a sad spectacle. Why does the right of sanctuary no longer exist in our churches? Why are we defeated? . . . The Jews are real men and women. Foreigners are real men and women. They cannot be abused without limit. . . . They are part of the human species. They are our brothers, like so many others; no Christian can forget this fact.

“France, our beloved France, you hold in the conscience of your children the tradition of respect for the human person; chivalrous and generous France, I have no doubt that you are not responsible for these horrors.

“Lord have mercy upon us.

“Our Lady, pray for France”  

The document became a manifesto; hundreds of thousands of copies were circulated by the Resistance throughout France. Saliège’s protest turned French public opinion against the Vichy government and led to practical action. Saliège instructed the clergy and religious in his diocese to hide Jews, particularly children. The Ministry of the Interior threatened priests who read out Saliège’s message.  The authorities tried to undermine his authority with slanderous propaganda, but they did not dare to silence Archbishop Saliège.

* the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. Jeremiah 14:2.

On July 8, 1969, Yad Vashem recognised Archbishop Jules-Gérard Saliège as Righteous Among the Nations.

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.