Cardinal Cassidy became a champion of Jewish people

Cardinal Edward Cassidy addresses a meeting in Washington in 1998 (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Cardinal Edward Cassidy, whose funeral will be held today, had a reputation for being down to earth but no one was ever left in doubt that he had a formidable intellect and immense diplomatic skill, writes Jeremy Jones. Source: The Australian.

He had a lifetime of service and achievement, and his appointment by Pope John Paul II to the position of president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews was an inspired decision that proved to be of immense benefit to the Vatican and to Jewish-Christian relations.

It is an understatement that he came to that position at a time of lingering distrust, a degree of confrontation and a series of unresolved issues.

Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, issued in October 1965, had revolutionised the relationship between Catholicism and Judaism.

It set out, in a brief and simple paragraph, guidelines for how Jews were to be considered by Catholics, after two millennia of supersessionism and allegations of deicide, disrespect and contempt.

In the words of Pope Francis, on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, it “represents a definitive ‘yes’ to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable ‘no’ to anti-Semitism”. It reversed centuries and centuries of negative standard Christian presuppositions and teachings about Jews.

In 1970, the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee was established between the Vatican and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

As the only Jewish Australian to have participated in meetings of the committee, I have been happy to be associated with a man who not just lived through the history of the reformed and thriving Catholic-Jewish dialogue, but made so much of that history happen.

Jeremy Jones is director of international and community affairs, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Cardinal Cassidy’s funeral will be livestreamed from St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney at 10.30am AEST.

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Cardinal Edward Cassidy became a champion of Jewish people (The Australian)

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