The Argentine postal service has announced the 2003 issuance of a stationery postcard commemorating the figure of Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, savior of Jews and others persecuted by the Third Reich during the Holocaust.
It is one of the first philatelical pieces in the world dedicated to someone who was a diplomat for the Vatican before being elected Pope John XXIII in l958.
The stationery postcards are cards, airgrams or envelopes with prepaid postage. They are being issued in commemoration of national and international themes of interest. They already have the prices preprinted on them. The sales price to the public is the face value. Their sizes vary from approximately l5.8 to l0.5 centimeters.
The initiative counts with the support of the Apostolic Nuncio in Argentina, Monsignor Santos Abril y Castello, who, in a letter directed to Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the Wallenberg Foundation, pointed out:
”I wish to express my satisfaction to you for the initiative in which you desire to honor an individual with such a humanitarian spirit, savior of Jews and others persecuted in times of sad memories such as the Holocaust.”
Who was Roncalli?
When the Second World War was at its peak, it produced the largest rescue operations of Jews from the horror of Nazism. The campaign was lead by Monseigneur Roncalli, known later on as the ´´Good Pope´´.
It was what some called ´´Operation Baptism´´, a plan to baptize Hungarian Jews. Thanks to those certificates of having received the sacrament, many avoided being sent to concentration camps.
According to testimony given before the Nuremberg Trials, this allowed 24,000 Jews to be saved, although Catholic sources affirmed that 80,000 certificates had been handed out.
Nevertheless, for those who are reminded of the forced conversion of Jews by such means, the administration of the sacrament would not be a requisite sine qua non in order to obtain the certificate.
It had been some time before that that Monsignor Roncalli had begun to conceive the plan.
The Founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, Argentine Baruch Tenembaum, assures us moreover, that Roncalli was sent to the Istambul Nunciature, punished after having alienated his superiors for having opposed Benito Mussolini.
The activity of the then future Pope, in contrast with certain condescension towards Nazism that some sectors of the international community had ascribed to his predecessor, Pio XII, has inspired a group of persons headed by Tenembaum –pioneer of Jewish-Christian dialogue — to launch a world campaign in favor of the recognition of Pope John XXIII.
The campaign was already presented to the Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardenal Angelo Sodano, in September 2000, in the heart of the United Nations in New York City, and before the President of Germany, Johanes Rau, on March 2001. The next step is to present it to Pope John Paul II himself, for which corresponding arrangements are being made.