ROME, DEC. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An archbishop who saved some 10,000 Jews during the Second World War in his collaboration with Pope Pius XII died Monday. He was 98.
Archbishop Giovanni Ferrofino was the former apostolic nuncio to Ecuador and Haiti. He was born in Alessandria, Italy, on Feb. 24, 1912.
Gary Krupp, founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, told ZENIT that the archbishop “was perhaps the greatest living eye witness to Pius XII’s life-saving efforts on behalf of Jews interviewed by PTWF.”
PTWF is a New York-based foundation, a non-sectarian organization whose mission is to identify and try to eliminate obstacles between religions and to initiate positive gestures in order to improve interreligious relations. It has been working to discover the facts regarding Pius XII and his efforts to help Jews during World War II.
“Pius XII sent [Archbishop Ferrofino] to the president of Portugal to request visas for Jews entering Portugal, and then when he was posted as secretary to the nuncio in the Dominican Republic,” Krupp explained.
In an interview with PTWF, the archbishop spoke of an occasion of Pope Pius XII’s frustration — he slammed his hand on the table — when the Americans did not help to “save this vibrant community,” speaking of the Jews.
When sent to the Dominican Republic in 1939, Archbishop Ferrofino would regularly receive double encrypted telegrams directly from Pope Pius XII, from 1939-1945. He personally decoded these messages and would travel a day and a half with the nuncio, Archbishop Maurilio Silvani, to General Rafael Trujillo, president of the Dominican Republic, and hand deliver the requests “in the name of Pope Pius XII” to General Trujillo.
“The Pope would ask for over 800 visas for the Jews,” Krupp explained. “The Vatican was able to gain transatlantic crossing out of Europe. This happened at least twice a year, asking for over 1,600 visas per year for Jews escaping from Portugal and Spain. Archbishop Ferrofino also further helped these refugees to get into Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Cuba. He saved, through Pius XII’s direct instructions, over 10,000 Jews.”
Krupp recalled how in January 2008, he went to France to permanently preserve the archbishop’s testimony, with the collaboration of the French PTWF director, Costantino Fiore.
In 2010, after Archbishop Ferrofino returned to Italy, the president and director-general of PTWF in Italy, Daniele Costi and Rolando Clementoni, both obtained his written notarized testimony, which is now in the hands of Yad Vashem. The Yad Vashem is the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, which investigates and honors those who were instrumental in saving Jews from the Nazis.
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On the Net:
Archbishop Ferrofino’s interview (with English subtitles): www.barhama.com/PAVETHEWAY/ferrofino.html