Catholic bishop apologises for Jews massacred in WWII Poland

Seventy-six years ago during World War II over 300 Jews were massacred in their Polish home town of Jedwabne. They were forced into a barn and burned alive by a few dozen perpetrators.

On Monday, a Catholic bishop apologized in the name of the Catholic Church for their murder, at a ceremony to mark their passing.

“The Catholic Church mourns the death of all those who suffered torture, pain and humiliation, and who died here in vain,” Bishop Rafal Markowski said.

Markowski heads the Council for Religious Dialogue and the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism. It was the first time he had attended the annual memorial service.

“At the same time, the church strongly feels the pain of the members of the Polish nation, particularly the Catholics who contributed to this pain, to the humiliation and, ultimately, to death.”

Historians have been critical of the wartime Church for not preventing Catholics from participating in the massacre, and for contributing to anti-Semitic incitement against the Jews in the Jedwabne region.

Exactly who planned and executed the massacre is the subject of an ongoing dispute in Poland.

Some say the Germans, rather than the Poles, were responsible for the atrocity. Some claim even mentioning Polish involvement is a libel that is meant to disgrace the proud name of the Polish nation.

On the other hand, Polish-Jewish historians Jan Tomasz Gross and Anna Bikont, say the Poles were wholly responsible for planning and carrying out the atrocity.


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