Sweden to Honor Catholic Cleric Who Saved Jews From Nazis

Gennaro Verolino Gave Help in Wartime Hungary

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ROME, SEPT. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- An Italian cleric who helped to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Hungary will receive a prize recently instituted by Sweden.

Archbishop Gennaro Verolino, 97, will be the first person to receive the Per Anger Prize.

The award is named in memory of an ambassador who was legation secretary in the Swedish Embassy in Budapest during World War II when the city was occupied by the German army.

The award, bestowed on personalities who promote human and democratic values, will be conferred Friday at the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome.

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and about 300 others will attend the ceremony to honor Archbishop Verolino.

The award is dedicated to the Swedish ambassador for his work during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, when he succeeded in saving many Budapest Jews by providing them with Swedish passports.

Verolino, as secretary in the apostolic nunciature of Budapest, likewise saved the lives of Hungarian Jews threatened by Nazism, by issuing false documents.

The prelate is being honored for his «selfless commitment, ingenuity and heroic spirit which enabled him to save many Jews during the German occupation of Hungary,» the citation reads.

Born in Naples in 1906, Gennaro Verolino was ordained a priest at 22. After the war, he began a long diplomatic career at the service of the Vatican. He retired in 1986 and lives in Rome.

The first Per Anger Prize is being awarded to Archbishop Verolino by the express wish of the Anger family.

The award is given to a «living hero» for his humanitarian activity. The prize includes a gift of about 22,000 euros ($27,000).

Per Johan Valentin Anger was born in Goteborg, Sweden, in 1913. With a degree in law, in 1940 he was sent to the Swedish Embassy in Berlin, and two years later to the embassy in Budapest.

After the German army invaded Hungary in 1944, Jews began to be deported to the Nazi death camps.

In a bid to halt the tragedy, Anger began to issue Swedish passports to help Jews to evade the clutches of the occupying authorities.

At the end of the war, Anger worked in the search for Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who disappeared in January 1945 after having saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews condemned by the Nazis. Anger died in Stockholm in August 2002.

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