They Are Our Brothers, Like So Many Others
The Fellowship | December 21, 2016
Monsignor Jules-Gerard Saliege
Life: February 24, 1870 – November 5, 1956
Why you should know him: A French cardinal, Monsignor Jules-Gerard Saliege helped the French Resistance during World War II and protected French Jews from the Nazis.
As Archbishop of Toulouse, Monsignor Saliege was at the forefront of the French fight against the occupying Nazis. While the rest of French Catholics either stayed silent about the Nazis’ policies against Jews, or even worse, supported them, Saliege began by sending a protest letter in 1941 to the Vichy authorities.
Another public protest was read from the pulpit on Sunday, August 23, 1942. The letter read:
“Women and children, fathers and mothers treated like cattle, members of a family be 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.”
Seliege’s letter became an important manifesto. Hundreds of thousands of copies of it were circulated by the French Resistance. Because of the Archbishop’s words, public support in France of the Nazis and the Vichy regime disappeared. His words not only changed how a nation believed, but how they acted – making way for changes in anti-Semitic policies.
Saliege also urged the clergy under him to resist. He told priests and nuns to hide Jews, especially Jewish children. While the government threatened Saliege, the elderly man withstood their pressures, and remained energetic and faithful despite his old age and failing health.
Monsignor Jules-Gerard Saliege was posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem on July 8, 1969, for the brave stand he took against the Nazi regime.