PARIS (Jun. 28)
Robert and Geraid Finly, the two Jewish orphans whose baptism into the Catholic Church and abduction by their temporary Catholic guardian became a world-wide issue, were brought last night to a secluded estate in St. Leonard, near Paris, after reaching the French capital yesterday from Spain where they had been hidden for about five months. The estate belongs to Andre Weil, a Jewish lay leader, who was active in the legal fight for the return of the adopted boys.
The return of the two Jewish children from Spain followed a decision of the French Court of Appeals last week confirming the appointment of their aunt, Mrs. Hedwig Rosner of Israel, as their legal guardian. Mrs. Rosner is expected to arrive in Paris within a few days by air from Israel to join the boys at Mr. Weil’s estate. She has promised to give the orphans a French education and to leave them free later to choose their religion.
(From Tel Aviv it was reported today that Mrs. Rosner, who resides in Gedera, was visited by a director of the El-Al Israel Airlines, who presented her with free flight tickets for herself and the two Finly boys who may be brought by her to Israel. Mrs. Rosner was greatly moved by the fact that the children finally reached France. She indicated that she will fly to Paris within a few days.)
The two Finly boys were brought back to France as a result of direct action by Cardinal Gerlier, Primate of France. They had been kept in Guetaria, Spanish Basque country near the French border, where they had been hidden by Basque Catholics since early February.
Father Chaillet, representative of Cardinal Gerlier, said today that the return of the children was in conformity with the promises made by the Catholic authorities. He said that close cooperation by Basque priests had been important in tracing the location of the children in Spain and their refuge with a Basque family. He charged that despite assurances they had given, it was almost certain that the Spanish authorities had done nothing to help recover the children.
The children were orphaned during World War II when their parents fell victim to the Nazi anti-Jewish extermination campaign. Previously, the parents had left the two boys for safekeeping in a Catholic home. Their temporary guardian later had them baptized and refused to return them to the family.
The case attracted considerable attention here and abroad and numerous appeals ware made to the Vatican and the Catholic hierarchy for their intercession. An agreement reached between the hierarchy and the Grand Rabbinate of France on March 6 provided that the children would be brought back to France and returned to Jewish custody. The delay on the part of the Church authorities in implementing this agreement had provoked sharp criticism.