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JCPA Mourns Death of John Cardinal O’Connor

Jewish Community Loses "Good Friend"

May 4, 2000 – New York – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs mourns the passing of His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, a great leader, a man of faith who was an inspiration to all people. Dr. Leonard A. Cole, JCPA Chairman, and Dr. Lawrence Rubin, Executive Vice Chairman issued the following statement:

The JCPA joins Catholics nationwide in mourning the death of Cardinal John O’Connor. Cardinal O’Connor will be remembered by Jews not only as a true friend and champion of Catholic-Jewish relations, but as a humanitarian who used the power of his pulpit to advocate for disadvantaged people throughout the world and in his own community.

A man of faith who translated faith into action, he spoke out forcefully on matters of social justice, devoting himself especially to the concerns of the poorest among us. He confronted the difficult issues of racism and bigotry forthrightly and with courage, and worked always to promote intergroup and interreligious understanding.

For Jews, the death of Cardinal O’Connor represents the loss of a cherished friend. He was among those Catholic leaders who appropriately denounced anti-Semitism as "a sin." We remember his solidarity with the Jewish community in confronting the plight of Soviet Jewry, his strong support of the state of Israel, and his pivotal role in the work that has strengthened Catholic-Jewish relations. Indeed, less than one year before his death, he moved the Jewish community deeply when he wrote to Jewish leaders in New York expressing "abject sorrow for any member of the Catholic Church, high or low, including myself, who may have harmed you or your forbears in any way."

His remarkable apology set the stage for similar overtures across the United States, creating powerful momentum for Catholic-Jewish reconciliation. He will be sorely missed. May his memory be a blessing.

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The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is the public affairs arm of the organized American Jewish community and serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 13 national and 122 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.