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Special Interview Lustiger Considers Himself a Jew

February 5, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

— Paris’ Jewish-born Archbishop Msgr. Jan-Marie Lustiger said here today that he considers himself a Jew and continues to believe in “a certain Jewish ideal.” The 54-year-old prelate told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “I was born a Jew and I shall remain one even if the fact is difficult to accept by some. I continue to consider myself Jewish even if the rabbis do not agree to this.”

Lustiger, who was born in Paris of Polish-Jewish parents, said he had not undergone a Bar Mitzvah ceremony because his parents were socialists and did not believe in any form of religious instruction.

He said that though he became interested in Catholic subjects from the age of eight “I always continued to feel Jewish. How can it be otherwise for the son of poor immigrants. I was also reminded of my Jewish belonging by some of my schoolmates to whom I had not tried to hide my Jewishness.” Lustiger said that on several occasions he received mild beatings but said that this had no effect on him.

The newly appointed Archbishop said that he did not consider his conversion as a “renounciation but as an affirmation of my Jewish identity which I assumed within Christianity.” Lustiger, whose mother died at Auschwitz in 1943, said his parents were opposed to his conversion “but finally gave in.” He was baptized in 1940 when he was 14. He told French radio stations that he wore the yellow Star of David throughout the Nazi occupation of France until he went into hiding. Lustiger’s appointment to head the Paris See continues to make headlines in the French press which speculates that he might one day, should Pope Paul-John II decide to retire, be elected Pope.

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