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Rabbi Demands Catholic Leader Disavow Remarks About Jews

Remarks offensive to Jews attributed to a high ranking Roman Catholic clergyman were the subject of an exchange of letters released here yesterday between Rabbi Judah Cahn, president of the New York Board of Rabbis and Terrence Cardinal Cooke, the Archbishop of New York. Rabbi Cahn, who initiated the correspondence, asked for an explanation or disavowal of a statement reported to have been made during the Bronx health care controversy last month by Monsignor James Cassidy.

According to a report on radio station WQXR, Cassidy said on Oct. 19. “We Catholics are tired of being pushed around by the Jews of New York” and that the predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhoods of the South Bronx “would much rather be treated by their own kind.”

The controversy was generated by a dispute over affiliating the city’s new North Central Bronx Hospital with the Albert Einstein Medical College of Yeshiva University instead of the Catholic-sponsored Misericordia Hospital. Catholics contended that Jewish medical institutions received a disproportionate share of city health care funds.

Cahn described Cassidy’s alleged remarks as “blatant appeals to the basest traits in our suffering society.” He wrote, “If Monsignor Cassidy spoke in anger, compassion demands forgiveness. If he truly believes such sentiments, then I am certain that a public disavowal of them would demonstrate that the church neither condones nor recognizes the authority of Monsignor Cassidy to speak in this false and biased fashion.

COOKE SHOWS CONCERN

Replying, Cooke said, “I share your concern that the wonderful relationships between our Catholic and Jewish brothers should grow and deepen and develop more and more in the communities of our city.” He added:

“I had indeed become aware of certain statements which were attributed by members of the press and media to many of the participants in the discussion concerning health and hospital care in The Bronx. I can assure you that so many of these reported attributions were either incorrect or taken out of context and that Monsignor James Cassidy is a man of deepest understanding of the wonderful dedication of the Jewish community to friendship and cooperation in so many areas.”

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