Skip to comments.Jews, Catholics bid farewell to cardinal
Posted on 08/10/2007 5:55:20 AM PDT by NYer
A sacred Jewish prayer read beneath the sculpted saints of Notre Dame Cathedral opened funeral proceedings Friday for Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, who was born Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism as a boy.
Lustiger, who lost his mother in the Holocaust and later devoted himself to healing the wounds between Catholics and Jews, had requested that his funeral include both faiths. He died Sunday at age 80 in a Paris hospice.
Hundreds of people, including prominent Jewish leaders of France, Holocaust survivors and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, gathered to see Lustiger's coffin carried through the crowd and placed on the stone square in front of the 12th century Notre Dame.
Lustiger's grandnephew read a psalm in Hebrew and French, and placed a bowl of earth gathered from meaningful Jewish and Christian sites in the Holy Land.
An 83-year-old Nazi death camp survivor and cousin of the cardinal, Arno Lustiger, then led the reading of the Mourner's Kaddish, among a series of prayers central to Jewish worship.
Lustiger's successor Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois said Lustiger "wanted the members of his family, Jews and Christians, and his friends to say some traditional prayers for the dead."
The ceremony then moved inside the landmark cathedral, where Vingt-Trois led a funeral Mass.
Hundreds gathered outside despite the drizzly chill to watch the ceremony on huge screens.
One mourner carried a sign reading "Sons and Daughters of the Deported Jews of France." Some 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and fewer than 3,000 survived.
Lustiger's faith remained complex throughout his life he never rejected his Jewish identity, and the multifaith funeral appeared to be a symbol of that.
"He always claimed he was still a Jew, which caused a certain amount of anxiety and concern within parts of the Jewish community," said Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, president of the International Council of Christians and Jews.
It is "highly unusual" for the Mourner's Kaddish to be read among mourners for a convert from Judaism, said Rabbi Joel Roth, an expert on Jewish law at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York.
"It's important to emphasize that it's not possible to be both Jewish and Catholic," he said. "That is what this could suggest to some people."
Lustiger's coffin will be placed in Notre Dame's crypt.
Sarkozy, whose grandfather was Jewish but who was raised Catholic, interrupted his U.S. vacation to attend Lustiger's funeral, before jetting back to Maine for lunch the next day with President Bush.
Aaron Lustiger was born in 1926 in Paris to Polish immigrant parents who ran a hosiery shop. As an adolescent, he was sent to the town of Orleans, 80 miles south of the capital, to take refuge from the occupying Nazis. There, Lustiger, who was not a practicing Jew, converted to Catholicism at the age of 14, taking the name Jean-Marie.
He was ordained a priest in 1954, and served as chaplain to students at the Sorbonne University. Lustiger climbed up the church hierarchy before becoming archbishop of Paris, a post he held for 24 years before stepping down in 2005.
Lustiger remained a grassroots figure, creating a Christian radio station, Radio Notre Dame, in 1981 and expounding on issues from the August 2003 heat wave that killed thousands of people in France to the building of a united Europe.
He also respected his Jewish heritage.
"For me, it was never for an instant a question of denying my Jewish identity. On the contrary," he said in "Le Choix de Dieu" (The Choice of God), conversations published in 1987.
Cardinals follow as pallbearers carry the coffin bearing Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger to the entrance of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on the eve of funeral services August 9, 2007. Cardinal Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism and became archbishop of Paris, died aged 80. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes FRANCE)
Religious leaders walk past the coffin bearing Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris August 10, 2007. The funeral ceremony for Lustiger, the former archbishop of Paris, mixed prayers from his Jewish roots with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a faith to which he converted during World War Two. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau (FRANCE)
Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois (C), follows the coffin bearing Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger as it enters the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris August 10, 2007. The funeral ceremony for Lustiger, the former archbishop of Paris, mixed prayers from his Jewish roots with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a faith to which he converted during World War Two. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE)
Unity in the Oneness of God.
Thank you for posting these beautiful pictures.
I am saddened and shocked that the French News (TV5) cable channel in the US did not carry the Cardinal’s Funeral Mass at Notre Dame this morning.
A disgrace, IMO.
President Sarkozy flew back to France from his vacation in NY to honor this noble and beloved man. He will return immediately to join his family in NH. Tomorrow they will travel up the coast to Kennebunkport for an 11 am meeting, then lunch with George and Laura Bush.
I’m sure there will be some great pictures.
I saw some live coverage of this on France24.com last night. The new QuickTime video stream works very well.