PARIS (Jul. 16)
The Finaly affair took a sensational turn today when Father Pergola, priest of the St. Leon Parish of Bayonne, confessed in a Bayonne court that he was solely responsible for spiriting the boys out of France to Spain.
The priest insisted in court that he had acted with the full consent of the children who, he said, wanted to be “saved” and not go to Israel. He added that the children wanted to remain with Mlle. Brun, the woman who had them baptized into the Catholic faith in 1948, and “whom they love as a mother.”
Father Pergola, in whose parish the children were hidden just before they were taken across the Pyrenees, took full responsibility, refused to implicate anyone else and refused to make any further explanation except when he is confronted by the children in court. He said he did not doubt that at that time the boys would change their story.
He told the judge: “I will not tell you who brought then to me nor how I took them to Spain. I know that on this point the children have not told the truth and when I am brought face to face with them they will change their story.”
Father Pergola said that his part in the affair had been common knowledge both in and outside his parish from the very beginning. He chided the French police for taking five months to unearth this “common secret.” He also stated that if Mrs. Hedwig Rossner, the boys’ aunt and their legal guardian, does not drop the charges against him and the other accused priests she will have broken her word – given when she signed an agreement with Catholic authorities for the return of her nephews.