Roey, Cardinal Joseph van, 1874-1961

Primate of Belgium and Archbishop of Malines, van Roey courageously faced the impossible situation in his country and actually tried to influence events from his important position. A strong advocate of Belgian neutrality, he supported the King’s surrender in May 1940 when that neutral policy proved untenable. During the occupation he tried to insure that the Church and the schools could not be used as Nazi instruments. He arranged homes for Jewish children elderly people and helped those in hiding. In June 1943 he issued a Pastoral Letter calling for a stop to attacks on German soldiers because of the fierce reprisals which ensued. He also spoke out publicly against Allied night bombing which was causing heavy civilian casualties and turning people’s opinion against the Allies. This had some influence on Allied policy.

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