Jewish Leader Wants Honor for John XXIII

Says Pope Should Be Declared "Righteous Among the Nations"

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ROME, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation wants Pope John XXIII to receive the honorary title given to those who took extraordinary measures to save Jews from the Holocaust.



Baruch Tenembaum is proposing that the Italian Pope be given the title "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Yad Vashem.

"If we fail to declare Pope John XXIII as 'Righteous Among the Nations,' our kids will be the ones who will do that," Tenembaum said.

The Jewish leader's appeal comes as the Church has just marked the 50th anniversary of John XXIII's election to the See of Peter, on Oct. 28, 1958.

Tenembaum noted that before being elected Pope, Bishop Angelo Roncalli "interceded in favor of the Bulgarian Jews before King Boris of Bulgaria and he did the same before the government of Turkey in favor of the Jewish refuges that had escaped to their country. He also did everything possible to prevent the deportation of Jews from Greece and he became a source of information for the Vatican as far as the annihilation of millions of Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe was concerned."

"During the time he was stationed as the apostolic delegate of the Vatican in Istanbul in 1944, he organized the rescue of Jews and other people who were persecuted by the Nazis," he continued. "Thanks to his actions, thousands of people who were condemned to death had their lives saved. His deeds and historic figure is therefore close to many other diplomat rescuers from the Holocaust."

The foundation founder also lauded the advances made in Jewish-Catholic dialogue under the guidance of John XXIII: "A new era in Catholic-Jewish dialogue started when John XXIII was elected Pope."