Carmelite Order Backs Relocation of Convent from Auschwitz Site

A statement issued Saturday by the Roman Catholic Carmelite order in support of relocating the convent at Auschwitz is “one more step forward” toward resolving the problem, according to Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

Rudin returned this weekend from a visit to Rome that coincided with the Vatican’s statement in support of the 1987 accord to relocate the Carmelite convent that was signed in Geneva by Jewish and Catholic leaders.

The agreement also was endorsed last week by the head of the Polish Catholic Church, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, who previously opposed moving the convent but reversed his stand after the Vatican announcement.

With the three central parties in the dispute now behind the agreement — the Vatican, Glemp and the Carmelite order — “all of the pieces to the puzzle are now in place,” said Rudin.

The Carmelite statement, issued by Rev. Anthony Morello, stated that “all along,” the position of the general of the Carmelite order, Father Philip Sainz de Baranda, has been that the agreement must be honored.

Rudin, who is the chairman of the newly formed Jewish Council for International Interreligious Relations, said he was “warmly received” at the Vatican last week and that he plans to return there after Yom Kippur.

He said that in his conversations with Vatican officials, there was no discussion as to exactly when the convent would be moved. “It was made very clear that it was up to the Polish Church to carry out,” he said.

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