July 12, 2004

Cardinal Walter Kasper distinguished by the Wallenberg Foundation and the Angelo Roncalli Committee

On Saturday, July 10, 2004, at the Latin-American Rabbinical Seminary of Buenos Aires, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and the Angelo Roncalli Committee presented to H. E. Cardinal Walter Kasper the ”Memorial Mural Award”, for his lifetime dedication to the causes of understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Catholics.

The ceremony took place hours after Cardinal Kasper inaugurated the Kindergarten classroom ”Angelo Roncalli” in the province of Buenos Aires.

The award, a reproduction in scale of the Mural that pays tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, as well as to the people murdered in the terrorist attacks against the Embassy of Israel and the AMIA Jewish community center, installed in April 1997, in the Buenos Aires’ Cathedral by the then Primate of Argentina, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, was presented to Cardinal Kasper by Rabbi Simón Moguilevsky and Malkiel Tenembaum, members of the executive council of the IRWF.

During the ceremony, the Wallenberg Foundation and the Roncalli Committee, created by Baruj Tenembaum, announced the granting of a scholarship to the seminarist Dario Bialer, who will finish his rabbinical studies in Jerusalem. The scholarship, approved by a special commission headed by the vice-president of the IRWF, Natalio Wengrower, was presented to Bialer due to ”his spirit of solidarity and human values at the service of the Jewish-Catholic reconciliation.” It was presented by Mr. Ricardo Faerman, member of the IRWF.

The moving interreligious ceremony was presided by Mario Ringler, President of the Rabbinical Seminary, its Dean, Rabbi Abraham Skorka; Father Horacio Moreno, President of the IRWF and Cardinal Kasper.

Among the people who attended the meeting were Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Adriano Bernardini, Member of the Buenos Aires Parliament, Norberto Laporta, religious dignataries, diplomatic officials and NGO leaders.

After the words of welcome pronounced by Mario Ringler, Rabbi Skorka explained the sense of the Jewish ceremony of ”Abdalá”. An instance that marks the end of the Jewish sacred day and the beginning of the others days of the week.

Father Moreno, a catholic priest, remembered the significance of the Memorial Mural as well as the determination and courage of Cardinal Quarracino who placed it inside the main Catholic temple of Argentina, but also the commitment of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the causes of interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

Filmmakers Vivian Imar and Marcelo Trotta presented to Cardinal Kasper a special copy of the movie ”First Primate Pilgrim”, a documentary film that narrates Quarracino’s visit to the Holy Land as the first Argentine Primate that officialy visited Israel as such. Imar and Trotta are also the directors of the worldwide-awarded documentary ”Legacy”, a film that tells the story of the Jewish immigration to Argentina, produced by the Wallenberg Foundation.

Cardinal Kasper read a moving speech in which he stressed the imperious need of Catholics, Jews and Muslims alike to promote interreligious dialogue, one of the essential elements for promoting peace in the world.

Among the many letters of endorsement from all over the world it is worth mentioning those sent by the US Congressman, Tom Lantos; Israel Ambassador to the Vatican, Oded Ben-Hur; National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman; the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN, Stefan Tafriv; the Bishop of the Concepción del Río Cuarto, Monsignor Artemio Staffolani; Archbishop of Ranchi, India, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo; the President of the Pontifical Council of Legum Textibus, Cardinal Julián Herranz and the former President of Guyana, Janet Jagan.

An actual-size replica of the Mural will be installed this year at the ”Vaterunser” church in the city of Berlin. The event is organized by the Wallenberg Foundation and the Evangelical Church of Germany.