Sir, – We read with joy the news of Gino Bartali’s posthumous recognition as Righteous Among the Gentiles (“Italian sports hero posthumously honored as Righteous Gentile,” News, September 24).
Bartali epitomized the lofty values of the rescuers and the spirit of solidarity which was so typical of the Italian people.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation started promoting Bartali’s heroic figure many years ago, paying tribute to his brave heart and incorporating his legacy in our worldwide educational programs.
A few weeks ago, on a visit to the Vatican, we met with Pope Francis, who in his “former life” as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio joined our foundation as honorary member. Quite coincidentally, we told the pontiff our feelings towards the Italian rescuers in general and Gino Bartali in particular.
Pope Francis’s sensitivity to the rescuers is well known to us. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio helped us enormously in promoting the Memorial Mural we installed at the Metropolitan Capital in a joint initiative with his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, who also asked to be buried next to it and to allow the Jews to visit this emblematic monument with their heads covered.
This Mural is in tribute to the victims of the Shoa and the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires back in the 1990s.
E. EURNEKIAN & B.TENEMBAUM
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation New York, New York
September 25, 2013