On The occasion of the golden jubilee of his ordination, Cardinal O’Connell of Boston pleaded for patriotism, American unity and tolerance before a gathering of 30,000 people. He also paid a high tribute to the Jewish people.
“The Saviour of mankind, who himself was a Jew, was born of a Jewish maiden,” said the Cardinal. “Let us cease dissension and persecution, for there is no hatred in the religion of Christ. It is men, vain, ambitious, foolish men, who beget persecution and cruelty.
“Let us remember that it was the Jewish race who preserved the Ten Commandments. The entire civilized world must honor the story of the great race of Israel. When everywhere the peoples of the earth worshipped false goods, worshipped heathen idols, worshipped Jove and Venus and Apollo, the Jewish race kept alive the truth that there is but one God. God so honored that race that He gave His commandments to Moses, its great leader. The commandments which contain the whole law of God are these two: First, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart’ and second ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’”
At this particular time the eloquent tribute to the Jewish people by Cardinal O’Connell is of special significance. It is not mere gesture of good will. It is a plea for sympathetic understanding. It is a rebuke to the “vain, ambitious, foolish men” who indulge in persecution and cruelty. It is directed against the persecutions in Nazi Germany as well as against religious prejudice in this country.
In 1916 the late Pope Benedict XV, in a remarkable document, declared that as the head of the Catholic Church he considered all men as brethren and taught them to love one another, and that he would “not cease to inculcate the observance among individuals as among nations of the principles of human right, and to reprove every violation of them. This right should be observed and respected in relation to the children of Israel as it should be to all men, for it would not conform to justice and to religion itself to derogate there from solely because of a difference of religious faith.”
In Germany the Catholic clergy and the Protestants in opposition to the Nazi church set up by the Hitler regime have displayed extraordinary courage in resisting the dictatorship of bigotry and race hatred. While others remained silent, these spiritual leaders dared to speak out in defense of the principles of human rights.
Cardinal O’Connell’s declaration is a timely and impressive reminder of the simple truth