NEW YORK (May. 3)
Archbishop John O’Connor, leader of the Catholic church in New York, said last night that “enormous progress has been made” in relations between Catholics and Jews in the last few years. But he maintained that there is still more to be improved in relations between the two communities.
Speaking at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, before he addressed the American Jewish Committee’s 78th annual meeting, which opened yesterday, the Archbishop said that in the last few years the church has made a major effort to eliminate from its teaching, theology and liturgy all anti-Semitic references. He said this is one of the manifestations of the improved ties between Jews and Catholics.
“There is no question at all that everything that can be done must be done to rid the world of the scourge of anti-Semitism,” he said.
OPPOSED TO CONVERSION OF JEWS
Another sign of the improved ties between the two groups, O’Connor said, is the frequent contacts and the dialogue between members of the two communities. “It gave me a real thrill when I received a telegram from the American Jewish Committee when I became Arch
“It is incumbent upon us to reaffirm the Jewishness of the Jews,” O ‘Connor said, explaining, in response to a question, that he opposed any attempt by Christians to convert Jews. “I will oppose any appeal to Jews to become Catholics,” he declared.
POSITION ON ISRAEL
Asked about the Vatican’s position on Israel, O’Connor replied that the Holy See is “committed to the security and protection of Israel. I support that, too,” he added. But he said that the issue of establishing diplomatic ties is another matter, noting that only recently, for instance, the Vatican and the United States established diplomatic ties.
Later in the evening, in a speech to the AJC at the Jewish Museum, the Archbishop told the group: “I want with all my heart to do everything I can to advance harmonious relations with you.” He added: “I have a feel for your Jewishness. It is sacred to me.”
Turning to the issue of abortion, O’Connor said he is aware that some segments of the Jewish community disagree with the position of the Catholic Church “on the life of the unborn.” But he appealed to the audience, however, to support “the pro-life movement.” He said: “I always talk about the sacredness of human life, from before birth to death.”