November 25, 2002

On the path of John XXIII

To mark a new anniversary of Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli‘s birthday on November 25th the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation will be carrying out a number of educational activities and cultural presentations around the world.

Monsignor Roncalli (1881-1963) was the Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul in 1944. In his capacity as the Vatican Representative during the Second World War he contributed to save tens of thousands of Jews and others persecuted by the Nazi regime from extermination. In 1958 he was elected Pontiff and adopted the name of John XXIII. He was later known as the Good Pope.

His rescue actions during the Second World War have been object of a thorough investigation carried out by this foundation which I have the great honour to preside and which counts with the support of important personalities from all over the world, among them more than fifty heads of state, a Monarch (King Mohammed VI of Morocco), as well as eight Nobel Prize award winners.

The Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli International Committee of the Wallenberg Foundation, which was launched in New York City in September 2000 with the presence of the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, is currently focused on developing the Luján and Fátima Projects. The Archbishops of these global centres of Catholic faith of Argentina and Portugal, Monsignor Rubén Di Monte and the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, Monsignor Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, respectively, are both honorary members of the Roncalli Committee.”

Furthermore, to coincide with the 102nd anniversary of Monsignor Roncalli’s birthday, the Wallenberg Foundation paid tribute to Archbishop Renato Martino, who recently completed his term as Apostolic Nuncio at the UN and is to assume the new and important position as President of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice in the Roman Curia. Monsignor Martino was awarded the Angelo Roncalli Medal, specially designed and coined by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation with the aim of distinguishing those people who stand out for their inter-confessional work, as did Pope John XXIII throughout his entire life.

On November 23rd the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation inaugurated together with Father Horacio Moreno, President of the ecumenical association Interamerica Jerusalem, the Inter-confessional Centre of Services to the Human Person. The beginning of the activities of this centre that opens its doors to all religious beliefs is further proof of the spirit of understanding that has been nurtured within our organisations from almost four decades. Built in a fourteen-hectare site with natural forests and a great lake, situated in the city of Ingeniero Maschwitz, 40 kilometres north of the city of Buenos Aires, it will serve as a home for the adequate physical and spiritual recovery of people, who will be accompanied at all times by the closeness of their religious values.

As a corollary of all the activities, the Wallenberg Foundation will present for the first time the English edition of the documentary film ”First Primate Pilgrim”, which narrates the visit to Holy Land made by the late Primate Cardinal of Argentina, Antonio Quarracino (1923-1998).

At the same time, a film about Monsignor Roncalli is to open in March 2003 in many of the most important capitals of the world. The publishing of books, stamps, with the participation of several American and European Postal Offices, as well as the unveiling of monuments and the opening of Roncalli-John XXIII educational centres, will be part of the Reconciliation Project already anticipated by our international organisation.

We thus celebrate this new anniversary of Monsignor Roncalli’s birthday advancing along the path of his teachings promoting understanding, defence of freedom, respect for your fellow men and love for life.

* Baruch Tenembaum is Founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation