Rabbi Rene Samuel Sirat, Europe’s chief rabbi emeritus, wasn’t pulling any punches. The 68-year-old former chief rabbi of France, who is Orthodox, used his recent visit to New York to assail the current state of Orthodox Judaism — particularly for its continuing mistreatment of women, the peace process, and “strangers” within its community.
Rabbi Sirat, a respected educator, also said that the Jewish community could learn a thing or two about repentance from the Catholic Church.
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.
Catholics will now be able pray to a Jewish-born nun for divine intervention. That’s because on Sunday, Pope John Paul II made Edith Stein, a German-born Jewish convert to Catholicism, into an official saint of the Catholic Church.
It is the first time in history that the Vatican has elevated a Jewish convert to sainthood, said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the canonization of Stein, who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, has re-opened wounds in the Catholic-Jewish relationship.
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.
Baltimore — The Jewish community must stop fixating on Holocaust-related issues if dialogue with the Catholic Church is to progress, Dr. Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary declared Wednesday during a panel featuring Cardinal William Keeler, Baltimore’s internationally known Jewish expert.
Jerusalem — Standing alone in the cool shadow of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, God’s representative on Earth to 800 million Catholics slipped a typewritten white sheet of paper into a crack in the holiest site in Judaism, and then he prayed.
The powerful moment, symbolizing Pope John Paul II’s desire to build a new peaceful relationship with Israel and the Jewish people, was relayed to tens of millions around the globe on the Internet and television, and in newspapers.
Jewish leaders worldwide continue to express outrage and sadness over the Vatican’s action to bring 19th century Pope Pius IX — who called Jews “dogs” and conspired in the kidnapping of a Jewish child — one step closer to sainthood.
Amman, Jordan — Jews who continue to oppose the Vatican’s desire to make a saint of World War II Pope Pius XII are causing an anti-Semitic backlash among Catholics, warned William Cardinal Keeler, one of America’s foremost interfaith leaders.
Jerusalem — At about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff in the history of Catholicism to recognize a State of Israel on its own soil.
Clutching his wooden staff under a steady rain, the stooped, white-robed Pope stood at a lectern at a festively decorated Ben-Gurion Airport landing strip, and in a hoarse voice said in English: “I greet all the people of the State of Israel.”
All eyes now turn to Jerusalem. Not satisfied with Pope John Paul II’s general apology to the world on Sunday, some Jewish leaders are hoping the pontiff will come through with an unprecedented and specific declaration about Christian responsibility for the Holocaust and 2,000 years of anti-Semitic acts when he visits the Yad Vashem memorial next Thursday.
He will meet with survivors from the Polish town of Wadowice, where the Pope was born 79 years ago.