In what may be his last official Passover message to Jews, John Cardinal O'Connor, the spiritual leader for millions of New York Catholics, sent out a heartfelt letter to Jewish colleagues saying he is ashamed of the hateful actions of Catholics in the past, and asks that he be remembered by Jews as their friend.
The 78-year-old archbishop, who suggests that he will retire early next year, wrote that at Passover, he is reminded of "the steadfast faith of Jews throughout the generations."
Who will speak on behalf of world Jewry in its evolving relationship with the Vatican? Should it fall to a coalition of secular and religious Jewish organizations meeting with stated goals and guidelines?
Or, should every Jewish organization hold its own separate dialogue, without an umbrella group to provide a unified stance, and without accountability to the larger Jewish community?
Like a runaway train, the assault on Judaism by prominent Islamic religious leaders keeps gaining momentum.
The latest blow came last Friday when a top Saudi Arabian cleric called on Allah to kill the Jews, whom he described as "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the killers of prophets and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs."
Speaking in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais also called on Arabs to abandon peace efforts with Israel because they were "impossible."
What will be the future of Catholic-Jewish dialogue if the international Jewish interfaith coalition known as IJCIC is officially disbanded?
That's the question facing Jewish interfaith leaders this week, following the surprising announcement by the Vatican's top Jewish liaison, Edward Cardinal Cassidy, that he considered the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultation "no longer in existence " as a dialogue partner for the Vatican.
Two thumbs down. That was the consensus of a group of horrified Jewish interfaith and community leaders after watching a rough cut of Mel Gibson's controversial "The Passion."
It was the first mainstream Jewish group to screen the Hollywood star's gory recounting of the trial and death of Jesus.
Score one for Mel Gibson.
The Catholic Church's official voice in America has washed its hands of a report by some of its own scholars that warns that Gibson's film about the death of Jesus invokes anti-Semitic images and flouts Catholic doctrine.
The unexpected response by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes after Gibson threatened to sue the group over an allegedly "stolen" script given to interfaith scholars, who concluded the movie will foment anti-Semitism.
Who does Israel Singer represent? That's the question several angry Jewish interfaith leaders are asking this week after Singer met privately in Rome with Pope John Paul II and raised several key issues between the Vatican and the Jewish community (apparently without the authorization of IJCIC) the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Two landmark theological documents were issued last week, one by leading Jewish thinkers and one by the Roman Catholic theologian. Besides timing, they couldn't be more different.
The Jewish statement calls for Jews to re-evaluate their historic negative feelings about Christianity and affirm the shared roots of the two faiths.
The Vatican statement declares the Roman Catholic Church is the only way to salvation, rejecting alternate paths. It advocates missionizing of non-Catholics.
For Jewish interfaith leaders, it's all very troubling.
While recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month, Cardinal John O'Connor composed his annual New Year's letter to his many friends in the New York Jewish community.
In fact, the 79-year-old leader of New York City Catholics has been sending heartfelt holiday greetings twice a year (on Rosh HaShanah and Passover) to Jewish leaders for at least 10 years.
A Vatican representative accused Israel of a "blood libel" against a World War II-era pope, and blamed the Jewish state for mounting tensions between Jews and the Catholic Church, shocking an audience at a conference on anti-Semitism in Tel Aviv, and prompting interfaith leaders to say severe damage has been done to the Jewish-Catholic dialogue. Rev.