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."
As ailing 80-year-old New York Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor continues to battle the effects of cancer radiation treatment, he can still "see" the trees: and the forest.
O'Connor continued his unprecedented record of improving Christian-Jewish relations with his support of a project to plant a forest in Israel honoring Pope John Paul II. The project to plant 25,000 trees in Nazareth is being sponsored by the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, along with the Jewish National Fund.
His given name is Aaron, the same as the first High Priest of the Children of Israel. He wears garments similar to those worn more than 2,000 years ago by the kohanim (Jewish priests) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
But this Aaron, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland whose mother died in Auschwitz, is a priest of a different kind. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 15, he has risen to become Archbishop of Paris.
In what is being hailed as a major development in interfaith affairs, John Cardinal O’Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, is calling for the Vatican to quickly open its secret Nazi-era archives.
The comments by Cardinal O’Connor mark the first major initiative by a Christian leader in the long-running struggle to gain access to the Catholic Church’s sealed documents in Rome. Jewish leaders have been calling for access to try and determine the relationship between the Vatican and Nazi Germany during and after World War II.
Prague, Czech Republic — Under gray, rainy skies, dozens of curious onlookers huddled together Wednesday to watch the unveiling of a new addition to the gleaming centuries-old crucifixion statue overlooking the historic Charles Bridge — the first in more than 300 years.
And some hope it could signal improved relations between the city’s Christians and its small, struggling Jewish community.
When the Synagogue Council of America — the only national rabbinic group representing Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewry — broke up in 1994 after 68 years, observers said it underscored the growing rift between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews.
“Maybe it has outlived its usefulness,” mused member Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills at that time.
For the first time in history, Jewish and Catholic scholars — with the backing of the Vatican — will work together to try and determine what the Catholic Church did and did not do to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Calling the project both “bizarre” and unprecedented, six historians from around the world, three Jewish and three Catholic, pledged to search for the truth, notwithstanding any political or religious pressures.