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January 30, 1987 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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President Chaim Herzog greets John Cardinal O'Connor at the
president's residence Jan. 4, during the cardinal's controversial
visit to Israel.

t..

No Changes Are Seen
In Vatican-Israel Ties



PIAGET

LEN FINK

Special to The Jewish News

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verything sounded
palmy according to
Cardinal John J.
O'Connor as he departed for Is-
rael. After all, it was to be his
first visit. He had already gone
to Lebanon, spending time
with Arab leaders, so few, in-
cluding the cardinal, suspected
that his trip would become con-
troversial.
Within hours after his arri-
val, however, the cardinal's
trip turned sour. He could not,
Rome suddenly informed him,
meet with Israeli leaders in
Jerusalem as he had planned.
It was a mistake, and he
apologized. Then there were
the cardinal's pronouncements
about Palestinian self-
determination and some
eyebrow-raising comments
made at Yad VaShem. Before
the cardinal arrived back in
New York City, 53 Jewish
groups, an almost unprece-
dented enlistment, signed a
statement criticizing the car-
dinal's visit.
The cardinal was enraged.
The New York Times pilloried
the Jewish groups in an edito-
rial. There was head shaking
in every corner. On Jan. 19, the
cardinal met with Jewish
groups in New York to put out
the fires.
But just as the 20th anniver-
sary of Vatican II was officially
ending, it seemed clearer than
ever that Israeli-Vatican rela-
tions were at an impasse. The
hapless New York cardinal
must have been stunned to
watch himself personified as
the herald of the end of good-
will of that anniversary.
Some people were shocked.

Len Fink is a Detroit-area
freelance writer.

42

Friday, January 30, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

By older measurements,
Catholic-Jewish relations still
were at an all-time high. There
had been rumors that Pope
John Paul II would seek to up-
grade diplomatic relations
with Israel. Jews and Catholics
throughout the world were
celebrating two decades of
enlightenment under Vatican
II. And perhaps the best omen
of all: The Vatican appeared on
the verge of confronting the
Soviet Union over its policies
in Europe, paving the way for a
new Vatican alignment in the
Middle East.
"What we have been hearing
for some time," said Father
John Pawlikowski, professor of
social studies at the Catholic
Theological Union in Chicago,
"was that some sort of diploma-
tic association short of ambas-
sadorial exchange might be in
the offing."
Explained Rabbi A. James
Rudin, director of the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee's Inter-
religious Affairs Department,
"During numerous visits
around the nation to celebrate
Vatican II, including Detroit,
the subject of Vatican-Israeli
diplomacy was frequently
brought up. It seemed to me
that the vast majority of
Catholics that we met with fa-
vored full ties between Israel
and Rome."
There were reasons closer to
Rome to speculate about a Vat-
ican change of heart toward Is-
rael. Many observers believed
that Pope John Paul II, more
than any of his predecessors,
would be inclined to lead the
Vatican into full diplomatic re-
lations with the Jewish State.
They pointed to the fact that,
as a firsthand witness to the

Holocaust, the Pope harbored a
profound personal understand-
ing of Jewish suffering and the
necessity for a Jewish home-
land.
It was also known that the

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