Christians and Jews: The Aftermath
Bérard had reported the alleged papal reaction to the persecutions in 1941. How did the Vatican view a year later the declarations of the bishops and the harsh measures against the Jews, which they now criticised? A German source reported that the Pope had intervened to ask for milder treatment, having seen how the average Catholic reacted. The French had not complained at the deportation of foreign Jews; now their fellow countrymen were being drawn into the net their attitude had changed. 1 On August 12 Vichy denied American radio reports that Laval had rebutted papal intervention. Yet it is certain some remonstrance was made through Valerio Valeri, which Laval had deemed unacceptable. He had in fact instructed Mgr Rocco, the Paris Nuncio's deputy, to inform the Vatican that the Church should keep well out of affairs of State; clergy aiding Jews must expect the police to act against them. 2 However, a story circulated that at a lunch attended by the Nuncio Pétain had mentioned the round-up of the Jews in Paris and had remarked, 'The Pope understands and approves my attitude', which brought a 'respectful' rejoinder from Valerio Valeri: 'The Holy Father neither understands nor approves.' 3 From London, Mgr Godfrey, the Apostolic Delegate, mentioned a rumour that already some time previously the Vatican had denounced the expulsion of foreign Jews, 4 but regarding these unfortunates the Nuncio, had reported to the Vatican that Laval's decision was irrevocable; further intervention would consequently be fruitless. Nevertheless, it was apparent that the regime was disconcerted by the new stance of the Church.
Bérard himself returned to France on a visit at the end of August 1942, and privately conceded that the Vatican was displeased that the bishops had not spoken out earlier and more vigorously. 5
A war of words also broke out on the air. Radio Vatican, on 14 September, pleaded for the Jews:
Jesus Christ first cared for those sheep that belonged to his chosen people, the Jewish people, for all those of his own race out of which has sprung the