NEW YORK (Dec. 16)
Franciszek Cardinal Macharski, the Archbishop of Cracow, has agreed to organize seminars there “on the meaning of Auschwitz to Christians and Jews.”
In a letter to Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of the American Jewish Committee’s International Relations Department, Macharski stated that “Such a seminar can contribute to the deeper understanding of what role Auschwitz plays in Jewish awareness, what it is to Poles and to Christians in general, and finally what it should be to the entire mankind.” He added that the seminars could “produce positive influence” toward friendly relations between Polish Catholics and Jews.
The AJCommittee originally proposed the seminars because of a project by the Catholic Church in Poland to build a Carmelite convent on the site of Auschwitz, the death camp in southeastern Poland where some three million Jews perished. The project was suspended after worldwide protests, including many by ranking members of the Catholic hierarchy in Europe and the United States, as well as by Jews.
John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia was one of the leading protestors. Cardinal Macharski described the proposed seminars as urgent, “considering the period of the last 40 years characterized by inconceivable lack of communication in regard to Polish-Jewish religious dialogue.”
In his response to the letter, Tanenbaum suggested that the seminars might become the first in a series of Catholic-Jewish exchanges in Poland, the U.S. and possibly in Jerusalem “that would help usher in a whole new era of mutual understanding and respect.”