Mormons Baptized Parents of Nazi-Hunter Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal Center appalled, Mormons apologize
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2012 1:14 AM CST
Updated Feb 15, 2012 6:41 AM CST
Mormons Baptised Parents of Nazi-Hunter Wiesenthal
Mormon leaders have apologized to the family of the late Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal (shown here in 1995) after his parents were posthumously baptized in a Mormon temple ritual last month.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

In a ritual that doesn't sit well with many, Mormons last month baptized the deceased parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. Now they're sorry. Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal were baptized in proxy ceremonies by church members in Arizona and Utah, reports the BBC. "We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples," said a furious spokesman for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center. Mormons recognize baptism after death, and believe a soul can then accept or reject the baptismal rites. The church agreed in 1995 to stop the practice of baptizing Holocaust victims after it was discovered that the names of hundreds of thousands of the dead had been entered into Mormon records.

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said leaders "sincerely regret" the baptisms, and blamed the actions on a single individual who put the names up for the ritual without approval. The church did not identify him, but he is now barred from access to church records, according to the spokesman. A researcher who discovered the Wiesenthals in the records also spotted the names of Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and family members. They will not be baptized, said the Mormon spokesman. It wasn't clear why Wiesenthal's parents were baptized last month. Asher Wiesenthal died in World War I, and his wife was killed in the Holocaust. Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005. (Read more Simon Wiesenthal stories.)

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