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.
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.
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.
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.
During a revealing World War II meeting between Pope Pius XII and the British ambassador to the Vatican, the pontiff said he had no complaints against the Nazis occupying Rome and expressed concern about the trouble his city would encounter when they left, according to a recently declassified U.S. memo obtained by The Jewish Week.
And when the British diplomat details for the pope German abuses, the pope does not directly respond, according to the two-page document which records the Nov. 1, 1943, meeting between Pius XII and British Ambassador Francis D’Arcy Osborne.
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.
On the eve of the first World Jewish Congress Assembly in three years, the group’s chief spokesman said he welcomes the prospect of an investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office into its financial dealings but regrets the failure to resolve internally a conflict over past governance.The WJC Assembly will meet in Brussels for three days starting Sunday, with an expected 500 participants representing 88 Jewish communities from around the world.