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Vatican Must Open World War II and Baptism Records

As Marshall Breger and Jack Bemporad point out in September 22, 2015, the Vatican has come a long way in healing the wounds it has inflicted on Jews and Judaism. But perhaps Jews haven’t responded because there is a great deal more to be done if the Vatican really wants to establish its bona fides: the Vatican must open its World War II archives and the baptism records of the same period. Time is running out.

Pope Francis alluded to the possibility that he might open the World War II archives soon after he was elected, and we are still waiting. Yet no mention has been made of the baptism records.

At war’s end many child survivors had neither parents nor relatives who could look for them. Oblivious to their Jewish heritage or too afraid to ask questions, they continued to become assimilated into local Christian society. Even if some had had surviving relatives, without documents to prove identity or kinship they would have had a hard time getting through a Church bureaucracy unwilling to part with what had become theirs through baptism. It’s not as though the Church doesn’t have a long history of baptizing and keeping Jewish children, and documents have come to light in recent years indicating that this practice continued through, during, and after the Shoah.

We as a community must demand that our leaders press this pope to do what is right without further stalling.

Toni L. Kamins
New York, NY

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