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Should Romney take the rap for Mormon Church's 'proxy baptisms'?

February 17, 2012 |  9:27 am

Mitt Romney
As if Mitt Romney didn't have enough problems with a surging Rick Santorum, the former Republican front-runner now finds himself pressured by Elie Wiesel to intercede with the Mormon Church to stop the "proxy baptisms" of Holocaust victims.  Wiesel said he hoped Romney would get involved after it was reported that Wiesel's name and those of his father and grandfather were found on a  genealogical database kept by the church. A church spokesman said that the Wiesel names "were not submitted for baptisms" and never would have been under a policy prohibiting the proxy baptism of Holocaust victims.

Wiesel's exasperation is understandable, but it was unfair to demand that Romney take responsibility for a policy that, even if it existed, wasn't his doing. Granted, Romney has served in lay leadership positions in the church and has contributed generously to it, but he is not the Mormon candidate for president any more than John F. Kennedy was the Roman Catholic candidate for president in 1960. It would have been inappropriate at that time to have asked Kennedy to try to end the then-common practice of Catholics praying for the conversion of living Jews. Publicly asking Romney to oppose the retroactive baptisms of Jews is equally unfair. The complaints should have been directed at the church.

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-- Michael McGough

Photo: Mitt Romney is seen on Feb. 16 speaking at the Cuyahoga County Lincoln Day Dinner in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Credit: Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

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