Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The "Jews' Catholic Prince"

The Jews' Catholic prince

PARIS – "Monsieur Cardinal, we have to leave for prayer," the young priest implored the old cleric. But Jean-Marie Lustiger stayed in the room overlooking the garden and continued to engage in a fascinating conversation in French, spiced with Yiddish. It appeared as if the old Church official preferred the company of the Israeli press over the evening mass that awaited him.

It was one of the last interviews granted by Paris' archbishop, who died Sunday, and he chose to give it to an Israeli newspaper. The meeting was held on the eve of his departure to Auschwitz as the personal representative of [the Pope] in the ceremony marking 60 years since the death camp's liberation ...

... his close ties with Pope John Paul II, ... turned Lustiger into a key figure in the historic process of reconciliation between Judaism and Christianity. After the Second Vatican Council ... before the establishment of ties between the Holy See and Jerusalem, the "Jewish cardinal" managed on many occasions to bring the two sides closer together. One example is his effort to resolve a crisis prompted by an attempt by Carmelite nuns to open a convent near Auschwitz in 1984.

It's hard to imagine who could fill the place of the Jewish kid Aaron, who became the mouthpiece of the Vatican on all issues concerning the Jews, in future crises ...
(Sefi Hendler, Ynet, August 7, 2007)


And how did Lustiger "resolve" the "crisis prompted by an attempt by Carmelite nuns to open a convent near Auschwitz in 1984:"

[Lustiger] had earlier been involved in the dispute over a convent of Carmelite nuns that had been installed in 1984 near the Auschwitz concentration camp. Many in the Polish church believed that a convent at Auschwitz was justified because Poles had died there. But many Jewish leaders were outraged, saying that 9 of every 10 camp inmates had been Jews.

Roman Catholic prelates, including Cardinal Lustiger, and representatives of Jewish organizations worked out an agreement to move the convent, but the plan was thrown into doubt in 1989 when Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland ruled out a move. Cardinal Lustiger pressed John Paul to intervene, and in 1993 the pope ordered the Carmelites to move, resolving the crisis. (John Tagliabue, New York Times, August 6, 2007)


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