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Every Fifth Diocesan Priest in Poland Was Murdered During World War II  

‘The faith of the Church in Poland survived this dark period of German Nazi terror,’ tells Spokesman of Polish Bishops Conference

During World War II, every fifth diocesan priest in Poland was murdered when it was occupied by the Germans and Russians. Four Polish bishops were killed in the concentration camps, and nearly half of the Roman Catholic dioceses were deprived of diocesan bishops. It was also a war with religion – said the spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, on the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

The spokesman of the episcopate reminded that during the World War II in Poland there was massive persecution of the clergy. “Priests, monks, nuns were shot, sent to concentration camps, imprisoned and tortured. The Germans confiscated the Church’s goods and closed the churches. Nevertheless, the faith of the Church in Poland survived this dark period of German Nazi terror” – he added.

Fr. Rytel-Andrianik pointed to the tragic data from World War II. “According to scientific research, for about 10,000 diocesan priests (in 1939) German Nazis murdered about 2,000 priests, that is every fifth priest. Among about 8,000 monks (in 1939), 370 were murdered. Among about 17,000 nuns, the Nazis murdered about 280 sisters. Additionally, during World War II about 4,000 priests and monks and about 1,100 nuns were imprisoned in German concentration camps. Those who were at large were also repressed” – said the spokesman of the Polish Episcopate.

During the World War II, almost half of the Polish dioceses were deprived of diocesan bishops. In twenty-one Roman Catholic dioceses in Poland, nine were without bishops who were interned or forced to emigrate, and one of the diocesan bishops was murdered.

“In situations where contempt and hatred of any man appear, one must always recall the consequences of the World War II, that is, the fall of European civilization, the mass persecution of civilians and the Holocaust. Hence the Church reminds the natural law that consists in the respect for the life of every human being from conception to natural death. There can be no exceptions here. The war showed how tragic are the consequences of trying to negate God. Therefore, we must constantly remind the words of St. John Paul II: ‘no more war’, anywhere in the world, but also ‘no more war’ in our communities and families” – said Fr. Rytel-Andrianik.

Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

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