This volume collects a variety of important speeches and interviews from Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Jewish Cardinal. Born to secular Jewish parents, he insisted that his Jewish identity could not be erased by his baptism, his ordinations to the … see full wiki
Readers most likely, I think, to benefit from this book are Roman Catholics seeking to deepen their insights into the Jewish roots of their historical form of Christianity. In ON CHRISTIANS AND JEWS, Aron Jean-Marie, Lustiger (1926 - 2007), Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, presents his personal yet orthodox interpretation of relations between Judaism and Christianity and prays that it will replace earlier, more anti-Jewish interpretations heard from prominent Catholics well into the 1940s.
Lustiger was born and raised in Paris by practicing but anti-clerical Polish Jewish parents. He was attracted to Catholicism by wide reading (including the entire Scriptures in a Protestant translation) and was baptized at age 14 in 1940.
His mother and many other relatives were immolated by Nazis. He was named bishop of Orleans by Pope John Paul II in 1979. Of that time Lustiger said: "My nomination as bishop meant for me that all of a sudden it was as though the crucifix were wearing the yellow star" (Ch. 1, p. 32). Two years later Lustiger was made Archbishop of Paris and in 1983 a Cardinal.
ON CHRISTIANS AND JEWS appeared in 2010, being an English translation of two press interviews and six addresses given between 1982 and 2003 on the themes of Jews, Judaism, the State of Israel, Christianity as the wild olive cutting grafted onto the cultivated olive tree of Israel and several related topics.
All eight chapters are meaty and full of insights. There are also End Notes and a somewhat unusual bibliography selected by the publisher, not by the Cardinal himself. All titles therein are Stimulus Books prepared for the Stimulus Foundation related to the Paulist Press. That Foundation supports scholarly works on important Jewish and Christian topics and especially on the interrelations between and interactions of the two confessions.
Aron Jean-Marie Lustiger was elected to the prestigious French Academy and was a gifted, lucid communicator. He is even better, I think, in his two oral interviews than in his six prepared talks delivered in New York and elsewhere.
For that reason, if you have time for only one chapter, I recommend the first, "Well, If I Must," originally published in Hebrew in January 1882. The Cardinal still felt new in his job as Archbishop of Paris but was skilfully drawn out by his two Israeli journalist interlocutors to review his entire life both as Jew and as Catholic and to justify his conversion Here are some excerpts -- with question (Q) shortened or parphrased; Lustiger's answer (A) is in quotation marks:
-- (Q): How do you see Jews?
(A): "God made them into a people of his gift and it was not for their sake but for the sake of the whole world."
-- (Q): In what sense are you both Christian and Jewish?
(A) "... in becoming a Christian, I did not intend to cease being the Jew I was then. I was not running away from the Jewish condition. I have that from my parents, and I can never lose it. I have it from God, and he will never let me lose it. ... (Christianity was for me) a better way of being Jewish. ... as if carried in the womb of the first one."
-- (Q): How should Christians and Jews act toward one another?
(A): "... there should be on both sides gratitude and mutual recognition. ... it is now possible, perhaps, for Judaism to recognize Christianity as an offspring of God."
And the interview goes on to cover other turning points in Lustiger's life, why Catholics accept Jesus as the Messiah not just of Israel but of pagans also, the archbishop's prayer life, his meetings with French Jewish leaders, the Shoah, and "the moral obligation toward the Jewish people" of the Catholic church.
In his 3-page "Introduction" penned in 2006 American Cardinal Avery Dulles (son of Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles) in brief compass identifies a dozen important themes touched on by Cardinal Lustiger. This book gives Christians, especially Roman Catholics, and Jews alike much to think about, including helpful suggestions as to how to draw nearer to "the other" without treachery to one's own group.
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