International conference Re-visit John XXIII
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 of Israel.
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 Vatican’s 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 John XXIII.
To promote this campaign we have created an International Committee formed by distinguished religious, diplomatic, academic and intellectual personalities.
Angelo Roncalli was born on 25 November 1881, one of the 13 brothers in Giovanni Roncalli’s 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, Monsignor Radini-Tedeschi.
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 Diocesan Seminar.
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 ordained Archbishop.
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 country.
The next position in Roncalli’s diplomatic career was Apostolic Delegate to Greece and also, Chief of the Vatican Diplomatic Mission to Turkey.
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. (Page 61).
Nuncio Roncalli’s 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 Vatican’s 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 (Page 123).
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 John XXIII.
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, 1993).
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. Hirschman’s story confirms for certain that the initiative was carried out by the Vatican delegate to try to save Jewish lives.
In Hirschmann’s 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 Hirschman’s 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 Hirschman’s 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 Roncalli’s 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, including orphans.
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 Vatican’s State Secretary a list with names of Jewish families from the Transnistria to whom he ask for help (Page 43)
In reference to Nuncio Roncalli’s 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 Roncalli’s 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 Roncalli’s 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 in particular.
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 Ghost.
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 historically divided.
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 Roncalli’s 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 XXIII’s 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 Theologians”.
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 Declaration.
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 New Testament.
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 Vatican Council.
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 Vatican’s 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 mankind.
The International Raul Wallenberg Foundation is committed to keep his memory alive and to pay permanent homage to his humanitarian action.
Blessed be the memory of Pope John XXIII, Nuncio Angello Roncalli.