The Conference of German Bishops has admitted the “shared responsibility” of the Catholic Church for anti-Semitism during World War II.
In a statement issued here, the bishops said they regretted the “absence of resistance by many Catholic against the Nazim.”
“Many Catholics allowed themselves to be taken over by Nazi ideology,” the statement said.
The statement was issued as political and religious leaders from around the world gathered in Poland to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops.
The bishops also admitted that the Catholic Church was guilty during the Third Reich of harboring anti-Semitic attitudes.
Because of the absence of church leadership on the issue, they said, many Christians failed to show the necessary resistance against the Nazis’ racist ideology.
Also in Germany this week, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl honored 10 Germans who had dared to mount a resistance to Adolf Hitler during World War II.
Accompanied by members of his Christian Democratic Party, Kohl laid a wreath at the site where the 10 were hanged from meathooks for attempting to defy Hitler’s regime.
“These men were ready to sacrifice their lives for human dignity and freedom,” Kohl said during a ceremony Wednesday at the prison where the 10 were executed.
The most prominent among those executed on Jan. 23, 1945, was Count Helmut James von Moltke, who was the leader of a resistance group of young idealists known as the Kreisau Circle.
Moltke was among those who drafted a plan to establish a German democracy after Hitler’s overthrow.
In a separate development, the German Greens Party expressed support on Tuesday for a proposal calling for the establishment of a special Holocaust memorial day in Germany. The idea was introduced by Michael Friedman, chairman of the Frankfurt Jewish community and a member of the presidium of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.