He who lacks the courage
to live as he thinks, ends up thinking as he lives.
The inauguration of the
new millennium -"Terto milenio adveniente"-
was placed by his Holiness John Paul II under the
sign of the dialogue among religions, following
the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council, an
extraordinary religious landmark which inspired
Pope John XXIII, Angelo Roncalli.
In the words of the Archbishop
of Milan Cardinal Carlo María Martini, "The
Jubilee must include among its essential components
the rediscovering of fraternity between the Catholic
Church and Judaism, in a religious perspective that
includes an act of "Teshuvá" repentance-
in the name of the Catholic Church. The path to
that fraternity in the name of the holy father,
who dedicated a special love towards the Jewish
People on the light of redemption, started in the
Papacy of John XXIII".
Indeed, it all started with John
XXIII, the "Good Pope", who inaugurated
a new era in the relations between the Catholic
Church and the Jewish People, a new time of comprehension
and tolerance after centuries of denigration, prejudice
and religious persecution.
The gates of inter religious
dialogue that started to open then because of the
Pope John XXIII, have been completely opened during
the pontiff of Pope John II, the Pope who addresses
Jews as "the older brothers", who visited
the extermination camps of Nazism as a sign of contrition
and solidarity for the Jewish victims and who also
went in pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in the State
The enormous contribution of
Pope John Paul II to the dialogue between the Catholic
Church and Judaism put him in a unique place in
the history of Jewish-Christian relations, his actions
have a clear sign of blessing and brotherhood.
Undoubtedly, Pope John II has
found inspiration for his way of dialogue opening
in the seed of fraternal love towards the Jewish
People planted by Pope John XXIII. Then, it all
started with John XXIII.
We, at the International Raoul
Wallenberg Foundation, think that the true beginning
of the path initiated towards the new encounter
of the Catholic Church with the Jewish People is
even prior to the Pontiff of John XXIII; it is possible
to find the first seed in the humanitarian actions
carried out by the apostolic delegate Monsignor
Angelo Roncalli in relation to the Jewish refugee
victims of the Nazi barbarism.
During the last years, the Wallenberg
Foundation has done a comprehensive and vast work
of historical investigation with the aim of revealing
the important humanitarian work carried out by Monsignor
Roncalli during the Second World War, an action
that helped save thousands of Jewish lives.
Our aim is to make public at
an international level the altruistic and generous
facts performed by the apostolic delegate Roncalli
- long before he was named Pope John XXIII.
So, in coincidence with the beginning
of the new millennium we have carried out, in September
of the year 2000, a ceremony at the Vatican Permanent
Mission to the UN, in presence of the Vaticans
State Secretary Cardinal Angel Sodano, where we
have declared initiated the international campaign
for the acknowledgement of the humanitarian actions
done by the Vatican Nuncio Roncalli, later Pope
To promote this campaign we have
created an International Committee formed by distinguished
religious, diplomatic, academic and intellectual
Angelo Roncalli was born on 25
November 1881, one of the 13 brothers in Giovanni
Roncallis family, a farmer from Sotto il Monte,
a small town near Bergamo in Italy. In 1900 he begins
his theological studies in Rome but a year later
he had to interrupt them when he was called to the
military service. During the First World War he
became chaplain with the grade of second lieutenant.
In 1904 he was ordained priest in Rome, when he
was 23 years old.
The first step in the ecclesiastic
career of priest Roncalli was by chance. Pope Pius
X, knowing that Roncalli was from a town near Bergamo
asked him to come to the ceremony of consecration
of the new bishop of the city of Giácomo,
Bishop Radini-Tedeschi, a member
of the Italian royalty and one of the most advanced
prelates of Italy at that time, was very well impressed
by the young priest Roncalli and chose him as personal
secretary. Apart from the public and institutional
experience that Roncalli acquires in those activities,
he also worked as Teacher of Theology and in the
In 1914 bishop Radini passed
away and Roncalli decided to write the biography
of his mentor, a work that he sends to Pope Benedict
XV, a personal friend of the deceased bishop.
At the end of the war. Pope Benedict
XV remembered the biographer of the bishop Radini-Tedeschi
and called father Roncalli to Rome, appointing him
Director at the Office of Attention of the Foreign
Missions. That position allowed Angelo Roncalli
to be in touch with important ecclesiastic figures
in the European continent, allowing him to make
a name for himself.
Pope Pious XI introduced Roncalli
to the Vatican diplomacy, naming him Apostolic Visitor
to Bulgaria in March 1925. As it was usual in the
Vatican protocol, the chosen Apostolic Visitor was
Archbishop Roncalli will spend
the next ten years in a delicate position, where
he had to take care of the interests of a small
Catholic community in a mainly Eastern Orthodox
The next position in Roncallis
diplomatic career was Apostolic Delegate to Greece
and also, Chief of the Vatican Diplomatic Mission
Archbishop Roncalli performed
those positions during the next nine years, from
1935 until 1944. It is during those yeas, from the
branch of the Vatican Mission in Istanbul that takes
place the saga of humanitarian actions in favor
of hundreds of Jewish refugees trying to escape
from Nazi persecution.
It is precisely this part of
diplomatic, pastoral and humanitarian performance
of Archbishop Roncalli in relation to the Jewish
victims of the Holocaust -often not very well known-
that the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
tries to rescue, investigate and promote.
From our point of view, it is
not possible to fully understand Pope John XXIII
s theological contribution -exteriorized in
the call of the Second Vatican Council- without
understanding the existential and value foundations
that led Nuncio Roncalli in is attitude towards
the suffering of the Jewish victims during the Holocaust.
What happened during those years,
between 1935 and 1944 when the Archbishop Angelo
Roncalli was Vatican Apostolic Delegate to Turkey?
Extraordinary things, altruistic
initiatives, diplomatic intrigues, tireless efforts
to save human lives, uninterested humanitarian acts
took place whose protagonist was the tireless Vatican
Nuncio Angelo Roncalli. In a very brief way I will
try to sum up those actions.
One of the most unusual situations
in those crucial years was the help given by the
Archbishop Roncalli to Jewish refugees interested
in getting to Palestine, a territory under British
control at that time. The British authorities had
established very limited numbers of immigration
permits, which practically prevented Jewish refugees
from entering Palestine. As a result of that, the
Jewish Agency -an organism of the Jewish people
with the aim of saving the victims of Nazism in
Europe- desperately to take them to Palestine .
Archbishop Roncalli understood the urgency of that
task started by the Jewish Agency and did not hesitate
to offer his collaboration.
Christian Feldman, author of
the book "Pope John XXIII" stresses that
Roncalli worked with Jewish Helping organizations
along with Haim Barlas from the Jewish Agency, and
later with the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog.
Nuncio Roncalli made his requirements to the Vatican,
including the wish to declare out aloud that the
help of the Church to persecuted Jews had to be
seen as a divine task. Roncalli took advantage of
even the last of his own resources and found the
way of saving the Slovak Jews arrested in Hungary
or Bulgaria by signing transit visas towards Palestine.
Nuncio Roncallis collaboration
with Haim Barlas, delegate of the Jewish Agency
to Palestine, is mentioned by John Morley in relation
to a request made by Vatican Nuncio Roncalli in
January 1943 to the Vaticans Secretary of
State, asking for Vatican intervention on behalf
of the 5,000 Jewish Germans for whom the Jewish
Agency had immigration certificates to Palestine
Professor Stanford Shaw in his
book "Turkey and the Holocaust" says that
by the beginning of the year 1943, Bader (he refers
to Menahem Bader, secretary of the rescue team that
worked in Istanbul under Haim Barlas direction)
started to use as private couriers people who could
freely move through the territories occupied by
the Nazis, specially Turkish businessmen, diplomats
and couriers sent by the Pope representative to
Istanbul Angelo Roncalli, who later became Pope
The Istanbul office of the Jewish
Agency, much more than the office in Geneva, often
sent documents required by European Jews to travel
or to be exempted from persecution or deportation,
with passports or nationality certificates issued
by neutral countries, particularly from South and
Central American countries. Sometimes those documents
were acquired in exchange of important payments
to corrupt consular officials, other times freely
by idealistic diplomats who understood how big the
Jewish suffering was. Many documents had their origin
in Catholic priests stimulated to help, following
the calls of Monsignor Roncalli in Istanbul.
Nuncio Roncalli did not limit
himself to help the Jewish victims of the Nazi persecution
by means of institutional organisms such as the
Jewish Agency, but also helped directly and personally
the Jewish refugees who ran away from the Nazi occupied
Europe through Istanbul towards the coasts of Palestine.
Historian Hebblethwaite says
that on 5 September 1940 Monsignor Roncalli granted
an audience to a group of Polish Jewish refugees.
They told him about what was going on in occupied
Poland. Soon afterwards Roncalli helped the group
to get to the Holy Land. ("An exchange of blessings,
Pope John XXIII and the Jews", Common Ground,
Christian Feldman, author of
the book "Pope John XXIII" also points
out: "As he resided in the neutral Turkey,
Roncalli could do more than others for the Jews
who were being deported from country to country.
In September 1940 a group of refugees from the Warsaw
ghetto brought him the first information about the
concentration camps and the massacres carried out
by the Einsatzgruppen. More and more persecuted
men and women wanted to get to Palestine through
the Balkans, where the British forces many times
blocked their way".
Monsignor Roncalli humanitarian
actions, carried out from Istanbul, allowed many
of those Jewish refugees to reach Palestine without
being detained by the British authorities.
Another brave initiative taken
by Nuncio Roncalli that helped save the lives of
Jewish refugees persecuted by Nazism was the granting
of convenience (No estoy seguro que "convenience"
sea la expresion correcta en este contexto....no
seria "fake"??) birth certificates, which
were sent from the Nunciature in Istanbul to Archbishop
Angelo Rotta in Budapest.
The convenience birth certificates
were issued in blank and distributed among the Catholic
priests to be filled with information of Jewish
people persecuted by Nazism. It was understood that
the documents would be used to save the lives of
the bearers of those certificates, people who once
the war was over could decide whether they will
keep or not their new religious condition or wanted
to return to the Jewish faith.
The American delegate of the
government Ira Hirschman, head of the "War
Refugee Board" in Istanbul tells us in the
book "Caution to the winds" a conversation
kept with Nuncio Roncalli about the saving of Hungarian
Jews by means of the granting of convenience birth
certificates to the refugees. Hirschmans story
confirms for certain that the initiative was carried
out by the Vatican delegate to try to save Jewish
In Hirschmanns words: "Roncalli
listened carefully while I described the desperate
fight of the Jews from Hungary. I told him the poor
statistics that I had and the many testimonies of
undercover operatives. Every time I stressed something
he agreed with empathy. At a given moment he brought
his chair closer and in a low voice he said: "Do
you have people in Hungary who are willing to cooperate?"
After he received an affirmative answer, he doubted
for a few minutes and then he asked: "Do you
think that the Jews would be willing to celebrate
baptismal ceremonies voluntarily? "The answer
took me by surprise and I answered that if that
could save their lives they would be willing to
do it. He added: "I know what I am going to
do". He added that he had reasons to believe
that some baptismal certificates had already been
granted by religious people to Hungarian Jews. The
Nazis had recognized those documents as valid and
allowed the bearers to leave the country".
"We agreed that we would
get in touch with his representative in Hungary
and that I would contact our undercover connections
to organize mass baptisms of Jews, or at least to
distribute certificates to women and children. It
was up to them whether they wanted to stay in Church
or take their own way. The agreement was reached
in a few minutes. It was clear to me that Roncalli
had considered this plan before my arrival and that
he had created an atmosphere in which he could prove
my credentials, discretion and skills to start the
operation. I had no doubt that the wheels of the
Operation Baptism would soon be put into motion
in Hungary under the sponsorship of the Catholic
Church" (Pages 182-183).
Ira Hirschmans testimony
in relation to the convenience Baptism certificates
is confirmed by several historians and investigators.
Ted Szulc, author of the book
"The secret alliance: the extraordinary story
of the rescue of the Jews since World War II",
(Pan, London 1991, page 54) says that in a few months
since Hirschmans visit to the Apostolic delegate,
thousands of Jews were baptized in the anti-aircraft
shelters in Budapest and thus were saved from death.
Arthur Morse in his work "While
six million died" makes reference to the delivery
of thousands of Baptism certificates that helped
save the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews.
The historian Giancarlo Zizola,
author of "L utopia di Papa Giovanni",
(Cittadella, Assisi, 1973, page 109) estimates that
the Baptism certificates saved the lives of 24,000
Jews. The information is attributed to Monsignor
Loris F. Capovilla, secretary of Monsignor Roncalli
in Venice and later in Rome.
An example of unusual diplomatic
audacity by the Vatican delegate Roncalli to try
to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust was his
intervention before King Boris of Bulgaria.
The Archbishop Roncalli, who
as we have pointed out before, had been in the position
of Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria before he was appointed
for his following position in Istanbul, decided
to send an official letter to King Boris telling
him not to accept the Nazi demand of deporting all
Jews to the extermination camp of Auschwitz.
That was not Nuncio Roncallis
only direct diplomatic intervention on behalf of
the Jewish victims in different European countries.
It is worth mentioning here the action undertaken
by Roncalli on behalf of the Transnistria Jews in
Rumania. That action was preceded by an unusual
background: the personal interview that Archbishop
Roncalli held with the Chief Rabbi of Palestine
- Isaac Herzog.
Historian Peter Hebblethwaite,
in his article "An exchange for blessings-
Pope John XXIII and the Jews" refers to two
interviews that the Chief Rabbi of Palestine Isaac
Herzog had with Nuncio Roncalli about the fate of
55,000 Jews from the Transnitrtia in Rumania. That
territory, a kind of penal colony for Jews, was
threatened by the Soviet advance and the Jews were
being moved to the West towards the extermination
camps. Three weeks after the meeting, Nuncio Roncalli
informs the Chief Rabbi that the Holy See has done
something on the subject. The rescue plan failed
however, due to reasons not related to Roncalli,
but the Nuncio could report in July 1944 that a
ship had arrived to Turkey with 750 passengers,
In his work "Vatican Diplomacy
and the Jews during the Holocaust 1939-1943 ",
researcher John Morley points out that the Apostolic
delegate to Turkey, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli,
also got interested in the Jews from Rumania by
sending to the Vaticans State Secretary a
list with names of Jewish families from the Transnistria
to whom he ask for help (Page 43)
In reference to Nuncio Roncallis
action on behalf of Jews form the Transnistria the
author points out: "The first months of the
year 1944 renew the fears about the Jews who still
remained in Transnistria because the German army
was withdrawing due to the Soviet advance. Rabbi
Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem appealed to Roncalli in
Istanbul to bring the subject to the Vatican to
be considered. That led him to discuss the issue
with Barlas, representative of the Jewish Agency
in Istanbul. Barlas said that the Turkish government
would be willing to provide a ship for 1,500 refugees
so that they could enter Palestine. The Rumanian
government should organize the transportation. Nuncio
Roncalli was asked to use his influence over Vatican
Nuncio in Rumania, Archbishop Cassulo, to accomplish
that feat" (Page 45).
Nuncio Angelo Roncalli also interceded
on behalf of the Greek Jewish community, a country
to which he was credited as Apostolic Delegate.
Historian Stanford Shaw points
out that without being encouraged by the Vatican,
Roncalli arranged with the Turkish government the
delivery of food to hungry Greeks and Jews in Greece
during the winter of the years 1941-42, due to a
shortage caused by the Greek stockpiling, the British
blockade and the German confiscations. Roncalli
also saw to it that the Holy See exerted its influence
on Germany to try to avoid the deportation of Jews
to the East for their extermination, as well as
to authorize the Jews to emigrate to Palestine,
at least those who had valid immigration certificates
issued by the British or the Jewish Agency by British
delegation (Page 278).
The historical and documentary
investigation carried out by the International Wallenberg
Foundation has compiled diverse historical works
that refer to many other interventions of Archbishop
Roncalli on behalf of Jewish refugees in different
countries: France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia,
Italy, Greece, the details of which I am unable
to expose due to the time limit established.
An eloquent demonstration of
Nuncio Roncallis determination in his humanitarian
action on behalf of the Jewish victims is the fact
that he did not hesitate to intervene before the
Nazi Minister of Foreign Relations himself.
The historian Stefano Trinchesse
in "Roncalli, diplomatico in Grecia e Turchia",
in the book "Pious XII" (Ed. Audren Ricardi,
laterza 1984, page 261), quotes Monsignor Loris
F. Capovilla who was secretary of Pope John XXIII:
"During the war Roncalli often intervened before
Minister Von Pappen on behalf of the Jewish refugees.
When they (the refugees) arrived to Istanbul they
asked for a meeting with the Apostolic delegate."
Once the war was over, Archbishop
Roncalli was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the recently
liberated France. The postwar situation was very
delicate from the standpoint of the Catholic Church
because the previous Nuncio, Monsignor Valerio Valeri,
had been very committed to Marshal Petain pro-Nazi
regime and it was necessary to have a new Vatican
Delegate who was able to change the negative image
of the Church in the public opinion.
The success achieved by Monsignor
Roncalli in such a delicate diplomatic position
was recognized by the Vatican. In January 1953 he
was named Cardinal by Pope Pious XII. Due to his
new status he was elegible to some of the important
posts in Italy and it was thus consecrated Patriarch
of Venice when he was 71 years old.
The relatively advanced years
of Cardinal Roncalli when he took over the Patriarchate
made many people think within the ecclesiastic
hierarchy and outside of it and even Roncalli
himself that that position would be the culmination
of his career. But destiny had yet a great surprise
prepared for Cardinal Roncalli and for the world.
On 9 October 1958 Angello Roncalli was elected Pope,
after Pope Pious XII passed away.
Even though Pope John XXIII,
reached the highest hierarchy only when he was 77
years old and he was in that position for less than
5 years, his Pontiff opened changes in the Roman
Catholicism that can be considered as the beginning
of a new era in the history of the Catholic Church.
Angelo Roncallis election
as Pope was decided by the Sacre School of Cardinals
taking into account the Consecration of a candidate
of compromise who united the electorate, after failed
attempts of agreement. The general idea at that
time was that John XXIII would be a "Papa di
passaggio", who would inaugurate a temporary
Papacy in which the statu-quo would constitute the
leit motiv of his actions.
We were saying previously that
fate gave Cardinal Roncalli a great surprise: to
take him to the Papal Throne in Rome. In fact- considering
from a historical perspective his actions as Pope
John XXIII we could say that Angello Roncalli
was the one who gave a great surprise to the Catholic
Church, the religious world and the Jewish people
The Papacy of John the Good is
far from being a papacy of status-quo. Short time
after his coronation as Pontiff John XXIII, he announces
his intention of calling an Ecumenical Council,
a General meeting of Bishops that had not taken
place for more than a century. The purpose of the
papal initiative was to accelerate the "aggiornamiento"
of the Catholic Church.
The declared intention of the
Pope when he called the Second Vatican Council was
to turn that meeting into a Pastoral Council. His
purpose was not to provide a solemn framework for
the declaration of new dogmas of the reexamination
of old doctrines. John XXIII thought in a "New
Pentecost" that renewed the flow of the Holy
The central issue around which
the deliberations of the Vatican Council called
would be based on as it was said by John
XXIII the Christian unity, the way of reaching
a new coexistence between the Christian churches
Nevertheless, the ecumenical
vision of the Pope John XXIII of respectful
coexistence among beliefs and religious confessions
went beyond the Christian world proper and
reached the non-Christian confessions in general
and Judaism in particular.
Archbishop Roncallis experience
during his long position as Apostolic Delegate in
countries of Eastern Orthodox beliefs had softened
his spirit, making him appreciate the special responsibility
that he had as Pope to try to repair "the scandal
of the Christian division".
Also the merciful and empathetic
attitude that Angelo Roncalli had in his position
as Vatican Nuncio to Turkey towards the Jewish refugees
persecuted by Nazism during the Second World War
prepared his spirit to face a revalorization of
the historic relation between Christianity and Judaism.
The practical mercy, the generosity
towards the neighbor, the tolerance towards whom
is believed to be different, the emphatic disposition
to help those in suffering regardless of their race
or religion, those spiritual qualities Nuncio Angelo
Roncalli long before he became Pope John
XXIII are, in our opinion, the true seed
inspiring the call of the Second Vatican Council.
The Vatican Council had the aim
of constituting for Pope John XXIII the theological
instrument for the consolidation of an ecclesiastical
doctrine that expressed that same existential truth
of love and respect towards the neighbor that had
already been put into practice throughout the whole
life of Monsignor Angello Roncalli in his capacity
as Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
John XXIIIs decision to
call the Second Vatican Council was coldly received
by wide sectors of the Vatican Curia; many dignitaries
were conservatives and did not like the changes
that the vision of the new Pope inspired. A wide
sector of the ecclesiastical leadership tries to
delay the call of the Council but the strong will
of John XXIII was more determined than the ecclesiastical
bureaucracy of that time and the Pope could even
preside the first session of the Council during
the autumn of 1962.
The theological expression of
the Second Vatican Council in relation to the non-Christian
religions constituted the promulgation of the Nostra
Aetate Declaration, issued on October 28, 1965.
The Council assumed the challenge
of rethinking Judaism and the relation of the Church
with the Jewish People in the context of Catholic
Theology. In words of the Theologian Jewish Rabbi
Leon Klenicki; "The negative attitude of Christianity
towards Judaism during centuries, the negation of
fate and vocation of the People of Israel, required
a collective reflection that went beyond the triumphalism
of the Church Fathers and the ideas of the medieval
The reconsideration of Judaism
and the Jewish People carried out by the Second
Vatican Council represented an honest worry of the
Church about the Christian testimony; it was an
expression of search after the "mystery"
of its own Christian faith.
The fourth section of the Nostra
Aetate declaration is dedicated to Judaism. The
content of its paragraphs have been widely discussed
and investigated by Theologians, religious leaders,
historians and thinkers of different beliefs. The
declaration of the Second Vatican Council about
Judaism has been enlarged by means of the promulgation
of the Vatican document "Guidelines and suggestions
for the implementation of the Nostra Aetate Council
Declaration", issued on December 1, 1974, almost
a decade later.
From the series of comments,
analysis and theological and religious studies about
the Nostra Aetate Declaration in its part about
Judaism and the Jewish People, we have chosen to
briefly refer in this opportunity, to the comment
that made the Pope John Paul II about it, during
his historical visit to the Great Synagogue in Rome
of the year 1986.
The words of the Pope reflect
the authorized opinion of the Catholic Church about
the reach and meaning of the Nostra Aetate Declaration,
clarifying them as the "inner logic" of
inter religious opening that has been developing
within the Church, since John XXIII and until the
Pontiff of John Paul II nowadays.
The Pope stressed three especially
relevant points in his address in front of the Jewish
believers at the Rome Synagogue in the Nostra Aetate
The first of them indicates that
the Church discovers the "link" with Judaism
"investigating in its own mystery". In
that sense," the Jewish religion is not "extrinsic"
to us, with Judaism we have a relation that we do
not have with any other religion. You are our beloved
brothers and in a sense it can be said that you
are our older brothers", affirmed the Pope
John Paul II.
The second point stressed by
the Council is that "the Jews as people cannot
be blamed for an ancestral or collective "culpability"
for "what happened during the Passion of Christ",
or indiscriminately neither to the Jews of that
time nor to their descendants, nor to the Jews at
present. As a result, there is no theological justification
to discriminatory measures, or what is even worse
than that, to any act of persecution".
The third point stressed by the
Pope is a consequence of the second. It is not legal
or correct to declare that the Jews are "condemned
or cursed", as if that was taught or could
be deduced from the Holy Scriptures of the Old or
Pope John Paul II proclaimed,
during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue
of Rome his express conviction of reaffirming those
principles, declaring them in its eternal value.
The Pope reaffirmed his commitment with the principles
of religious tolerance and revalorization of Judaism,
from the point of view of the Christian Theology,
as they were proclaimed several decades before,
by inspiration of Pope John XXIII, in the Second
The International Raoul Wallenberg
Foundation, an institution which I have the honor
of being the founder, is a non-profit organization
with the aim of honoring the memory of the Swedish
diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of
thousands of Jewish refugees persecuted by Nazism.
Next to the figure of Raoul Wallenberg,
we also pay honor to the humanitarian actions undertaken
by a dedicated group of diplomats from different
countries, who risked their own personal security
and their professional careers to save the lives
of innocent Jewish lives.
Our work has the adherence and
support of the international diplomatic community,
and we have the honor of having as members more
than fifty Heads of State, Prime Ministers, and
Presidents of different countries.
In the context of this Gallery
of extraordinary people who went "beyond"
their formal diplomatic obligations to save human
lives, the figure of the Vatican Nuncio Angello
Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, has
a place of honor.
As it was said at the beginning
of my speech, our Foundation has created an international
Committee dedicated to the promotion of the humanitarian
work of Monsignor Roncalli.
Likewise, we have proclaimed,
in a solemn ceremony which took place at the premises
of the Vatican Representation to the UN, in presence
of the Vaticans State Secretary, the launch
of an international campaign with the aim of making
public the humanitarian work carried out by Nuncio
Roncalli during the Holocaust, an action that saved
thousands of human lives.
Our ambition is to turn the figure
of John XXIII Nuncio Angello Roncalli into
a model of inspiration for future generations, for
the strengthening of tolerance, dialogue and brotherhood
between human beings of good will, regardless of
their nationality, race or religion.
Our dream is to be able to establish,
at the head office of our Foundation, in the city
of Jerusalem, the "Center of dialogue, reflection
and inter religious encounter", an environment
that allows to gather Jews, Christians and Muslims
in the spirit of coexistence and mutual respect
that the Pope John XXIII proposed.
Angelo Roncalli, John the Good,
is already a legend and a moral inspiration for
The International Raul Wallenberg
Foundation is committed to keep his memory alive
and to pay permanent homage to his humanitarian
Blessed be the memory of Pope
John XXIII, Nuncio Angello Roncalli.