Your Revered Imminence, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Your Excellency Archbishop, Renato Martino, Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, National Authorities, Priests Brothers and Sisters.
I have traveled from Buenos Aires for only 24 hours for the sole reason of uniting myself with all of you in rendering homage to a man truly created in the image of God.
My Seminary peer and friend, Mr. Baruch Tenembaum, has asked me to undertake this effort because we would like to express our gratitude to the Good Pope, John XXIII, as members of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation’s mother institution created over thirty-five years ago in the Americas as well as in Jerusalem.
It is an honor for me to stand before you and relate that three years ago the Main Cathedral of Buenos Aires inaugurated a mural composed of fragments of prayer books rescued from concentration camps. At the inauguration, the then Cardinal, Antonio Quarracino proclaimed, ”and here with my brother Baruch, we establish this Jewish monument at the Main Cathedral inspired by Pope John XXIII and Raoul Wallenberg”. I must also tell you that this was a historically unprecedented enterprise and the Secretary of the Vatican State, Angelo Sodano, who visited the chapel where we can also find Cardinal Antonio Quarracino’s tomb, officially recognized it. Last year we offered both in a Synagogue and at the Main Cathedral religious services remembering Raoul Wallenberg. As you may have guessed, we had Jews and Catholics paying tribute to a Protestant who saved people of a different faith than his own.
Pope John XXIII is the Pontiff of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council, the one who eliminated offensive expressions towards Jewish people found in the Church’s liturgy. During his post in Istanbul as Papal Nuncio, he achieved extraordinary things together with Monsignor Angelo Rotta, who collaborated with Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest.
Pope John XXIII is the Pope of Pacem en Terris, of reconciliation and dialogue. In the Jewish tradition we read from the Torah in such a way so that we may read all the books by the end of a year cycle, this week we read the chapter ”Tamim”.
My dear friends, it is an honor for us to participate in this event that in essence has become a ceremony to launch the idea, the request, and convocation to proclaim Pope John XXIII ”Righteous” (Chasid Humot Haolam). This is a manifestation of appreciation on behalf of the Nation of the Book and the world to this Pope who not only inspired interfaith stirrings in the Americas and Jerusalem, as mentioned earlier, but also a larger international inter-religious movement.
Mr. Secretary of the State, Archbishop, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us all unite to continue the work of Pope John XXIII.