With the attendance of the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a homage was paid to the memory of Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on September 7, 2000, at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Vatican to the United Nations in New York. On the occasion, the Wallenberg Foundation anounced the launching of the Angelo Roncalli International Committee.
The meeting opened when the Chief of the Vatican Mission, Archbishop Renato Martino, introduced Rabbi David Algaze, founder and leader of the Hadat Israel Jewish Community in Queens, New York. Algaze emphasized the humanitarian achievements of Monsignor Roncalli as Apostolic Delegate in Turkey during the Second World War.
Rabbi Algaze read a letter signed by the Argentine founder of the Wallenberg Foundation, Baruch Tenembaum, directed to the highest authorities of the Holocaust Museum in Israel, suggesting that the institution declare Monsignor Roncalli ”Righteous Among the Nations”. ”The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation just presents this suggestion to Yad Vashem, but does not intend to interfere in the process or considerations of the commission which may or may not declare Roncalli as Righteous”- Tenembaum said.
The letter was handed to Samuel Sisso, the General Consul of Israel and a copy was given to Cardinal Sodano. The letter also asks the Vatican to disclose any further documents that might shed light on the final fate of Raoul Wallenberg. The Swedish diplomat disappeared on January 17, 1945 after having been arrested by the Soviet Army hours after the occupation of Budapest.
Afterwards, Rabbi Simon Moguilevsky, the spiritual leader of the Argentina´s main Jewish temple, took the podium in representation of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
Towards the conclusion of the event and demonstrating his command of the Spanish language, Cardinal Sodano remembered his last visit to Argentina in October 1998. ”I remember my visit to the Mural dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust installed inside the Cathedral of Buenos Aires. For this reason this homage to Monsignor Roncalli is also for all of us who work for brotherhood.”
Mr. Tenembaum, accompanied by Abraham Foxman, President of the Anti-Defamation League, presented Cardinal Sodano with a sculpture created by the Argentine artist, Norma D’Ippolito.
Letters of endorsement were received from U.S. Congressman, Tom Lantos; Former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department., Stuart E. Eizenstat; former New York City Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani; Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz; from the New York State Governor, George Pataki; from the H. Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, among other prominent intellectual, cultural, governmental, religious, and interfaith representatives.