Catholic bishops in Germany “made themselves complicit” in Nazi crimes according to a report by the German Bishops’ Conference.
At a video news conference Wednesday, the president of the conference, Bishop Georg Baetzing, presented the findings of a 23-page report, “German Bishops in the World War,.”
“Inasmuch as the bishops did not oppose the war with a clear ‘no,’ and most of them bolstered the [German nation’s] will to endure, they made themselves complicit in the war,” the document said, according to a report in Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur.
The report also said that while the bishops did not share Hitler’s racial ideology, they still helped support “both soldiers and the regime,” The Times reported.
Hundreds of bishops provided spiritual guidance on the German front lines during the war and thousands of church properties were converted into military hospitals, staffed by Catholic nuns, the report notes.
One prelate described the report to The Times as a “confession of guilt.”
Critics have long accused Pope Pius XII, who led the church from 1939 to 1958, of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis. His role during the Holocaust has been a bone of contention for years.
On March 2, the Vatican opened its archives on Pius to scholars. The archives were closed a week later due to the spread of the coronavirus, but in that short window researchers already found documents showing that Pius knew about the Nazi death camps and that the Vatican hid that information to protect Pius’s image, the Religion News Service reported.
*The article was published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on May 3, 2020.