During World War II, the Catholic Church hid more than three thousand Jews in Rome. This is clear from documents that recently appeared at the Pontifical Bible Institute.
The documents contain the names of 3,600 people who found shelter thanks to 155 different monastic communities. Among them were 3,200 of Jewish origin. The names of about seven hundred other people in hiding are not yet known.
The documents date back to 1944, and were used more than fifteen years later in a study by Italian historian Renzo De Felice. They have been considered missing for decades. After their rediscovery, Pope Francis ordered the publication of the documents, in addition to the archive, which has been made accessible to the public since 2020.
The Vatican’s role during the Nazi dictatorship and Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy remains sensitive today. Pope Pius XII in particular faced criticism during his lifetime over his attitude toward Nazi Germany. He has been criticized for remaining silent about the Holocaust. On the other hand, there are also historians who defend it.
At the beginning of World War II, between ten thousand and fifteen thousand Jews lived in Rome. Nazi forces killed more than two thousand. German forces occupied the city for nine months until its liberation by the Allies in June 1944.
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