Mormons apologise for 'unacceptable' baptism of Nazi hunter's parents

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The Independent US

The Mormon Church has apologised after its members performed posthumous baptisms into Mormonism of the long-dead Jewish parents of the famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor, Simon Wiesenthal.

The baptisms "by proxy" were performed last month in Utah, Arizona and Idaho, according to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation named after the man who hunted down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said the baptisms were "unacceptable", adding that people who lost everything and were murdered for being Jewish during the Holocaust should not have their souls hijacked by another religion.

The Mormon Church, formally called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, permits dead people to be baptised into the religion, with the belief that the dead person "in the next life" can choose to accept or decline the baptism.

Mr Wiesenthal's mother Rosa died at the Belzec concentration camp in Poland in 1942. His father, Asher Wiesenthal, died during the First World War. Mr Wiesenthal died of natural causes in 1995.

The church, in a written statement, put responsibility for the matter on a single Mormon who it said had been disciplined. "We sincerely regret the actions of an individual member of the church," said spokesman Michael Purdy.