Cardinal Agnelli ‘s hands were trembling as he read the latest reports from Poland. Taking his glasses off, he brushed a tear from his cheek.
“What is our obligation in light of what we now know?” said the cardinal. “There is no longer a question of ‘Is this really happening?’ as we have too many eye witnesses for us to dismiss this with the ‘Let’s wait until we can establish the facts.’ The Germans are systematically killing every Jew, and I believe their goal is to murder every Jew in Europe. They have gone from ruthless gunfire that kills hundreds to systematic murder that kills thousands in a day. I believe we can no longer hide behind all of the reasons that seem sensible. To delay goes against every principle that we hold dear, and I can no longer be silent.”
Bishop Murano reflected silently on the cardinal’s words and disagreed with his conclusions.
“Your Eminence’s involvement is not that simple. We have many things to consider; for example, the long tradition of seeing all potential threats through the eyes of the implications for the faithful. There are millions of German Catholics who may be affected by precipitous involvement. Also, there is the question of the concordat with Germany. If we involve ourselves, we breech the agreement; and I am sure that Hitler will retaliate against the church.”
“Are you listening to yourself, Bishop? It seems to me you have ignored the keys to our faith. Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. Are not the Jews our brethren? Do you think that our Jewish lord would expect us to ignore the situation? And what of the concordat? If you make an agreement with the devil, is it binding? I am not naïve, but I stand solidly on the conviction that I must act against this madness. I am not the pope, and I bleed for the holy father in his search for what he must do, but I must follow the path of my conscience and will do everything in my power to save the Jews.”
“Do you realize that this decision may cost you your life?”
“I have no desire to be a martyr, and it frightens me to think of what I will endure if I am caught. But I am more frightened of standing before my maker and saying that I did nothing.”