Yad L’Achim has issued a direct appeal to Pope Benedict XVI to call on Catholic families in Europe to reveal to Jewish orphans they raised during the Holocaust their true identities.In an urgent letter, which can be read below, the organization’s chairman, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipschitz, notes that many Jews placed their children with monasteries and families in the hope of returning to retrieve them.
After the war, Pope Pius XII, who is now being considered for sainthood, ordered that these children be raised as Christians, and not be told their true identities.
The letter’s text is as follows:
Dec. 22, 2009
The Honorable Pope Benedict XVI,
In the wake of media reports regarding the Catholic Church’s intention to beatify Pope Pius XII, and to bestow upon him sainthood, we appeal to you on a matter of great urgency.
Yad L’Achim has been active in efforts to locate Jewish children who were taken in by monasteries and Catholic families during the Holocaust, but never returned to their parents. Tragically, many of the parents perished during the war, and the foster families, acting on the express orders of Pope Pius XII, never revealed to the children their true identities.
There are no words to express the pain and bitter frustration of surviving relatives, who were thus barred from finding their loved ones’ descendants and raising them as Jews.
At the very least, the holy martyrs deserve to have their children returned to the Jewish people.
To declare Pope Pius XII a man of “heroic virtues,” without addressing the issue of these orphans, would be a slap in the face to the Jewish people. We therefore urgently appeal to you to rectify this terrible injustice and call on all Catholic families with information on the whereabouts of Holocaust orphans to reveal to them their identity or to bring this information to the official representatives of their local Jewish communities.
I would like to take this opportunity to make an additional request. A year ago, your official representative in Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, sent us a letter saying that the Vatican was prepared to “try to provide more precise information” on the Jewish children taken in by the church during the Holocaust.
We haven’t heard anything since, and time is running out. As I wrote then: “We must act quickly. These children are now older individuals themselves, and must be informed of their Jewish identity before it’s too late. There is no doubt that the parents and grandparents of these orphans, most of whom don’t even know they are Jewish, won’t find Heavenly rest until their descendants return to the religion of their fathers.”
Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipschitz
Chairman, Yad L’Achim