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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger on Christians and Jews » User review

"... it was as though the crucifix were wearing the yellow star"

  • Sep 11, 2011
Rating:
+4

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.

 

-OOO-

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September 11, 2011
Sounds like a very interesting read. I am Roman Catholic and several years ago I had the opportunity to attend a bar mitzvah. I was struck by just how many of our traditions emanated from the Jews. I would be very interested in taking a look at this book.
September 13, 2011
Dear drifter 51, When from 1969 - 71 I was with the American Embassy in Saigon during the late war, I attended two consecutive seders. Until a recent change of pastors my parish in Swannanoa, NC encouraged our congregation to celebrate each spring a seder with a Jewish-Methodist couple. Cardinal Lustiger's speculations go beyond that sort of reminiscence. He laments the disappearance well before the time of Constantine of the Jewish (rite, composition) Christian (literally "Messianic") church in Jerusalem and other places. The temptation of the Vatican (inspiration from God?, feared and rejected by many Jews worldwide at the time of the 1989 beatification and 1998 canonization of Saint Edith Stein. Their question: is the Vatican trying, through Stein, to make Catholicism "too" attractive to wavering Jews? Cardinal Lustiger calls for a far deeper appreciation by all Catholics of the Pauline metaphor that pagans are the wild olive shoot grafted onto the cultivated shoot of Israel. Israel is blood of Christianity's blood, not just some quaint, inexplicable survival. Christians think that the Messiah of Israel as come once and will come again. Jews still await a first coming. But both await the Messiah. Lustiger argues that it is the will of God for Jews to remain and carry out their Divine mission of faithful witness until the very end of time. Much to ponder. Thanks for reading my review and commenting. Cordially, Qigongbear/Patrick K
 
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About the reviewer
(Thomas) Patrick Killough ()
Ranked #97
I am a retired American diplomat. Married for 47 years. My wife Mary (PhD in German and Linguistics) and I have two sons, six grandsons and two granddaughters. Our home is Highland Farms Retirement Community … more
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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 priesthood and the episcopate, or his elevation to the cardinalate. This belief led him not only to explain his own life, but also to work to establish new relationships between Jews and Catholics in the wake of Vatican II and the inter-religious efforts of Pope John Paul II. Included in this volume are several of Lustiger s most important addresses.
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