Cardinal Cassidy Receives AJC Isaiah Award

May 2, 2001

May 2, 2001 -  WASHINGTON -- The American Jewish Committee today honored Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy for his distinguished leadership in furthering Catholic-Jewish relations worldwide.

Cardinal Cassidy, outgoing president of the Vatican’s
Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, was presented with AJC’s Isaiah Interreligious Award at the American Jewish Committee’s 95th Annual Meeting. He is the fifth recipient of the award in AJC’s history.

“Because of Cardinal Cassidy’s legacy of leadership, future generations of Jews and Catholics will always have an exemplary role model and mentor, one who has been exceptionally responsive to Jewish needs and concerns, while remaining faithful to his own spiritual tradition,” said Rabbi A. James Rudin, AJC’s Senior Interreligious Advisor, who presented the award.

Reflecting on his eleven years as president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, Cardinal Cassidy said:

“Progress made during this period in Catholic-Jewish relations has only been possible with the committed collaboration of our Jewish friends and dialogue partners. We in the Holy See’s Commission have done our best to move this special relationship forward. But we know well that our efforts would have been in vain, had we not had Jewish cooperation,” said Cassidy who praised the American Jewish Committee for its initiatives and leadership in advancing Catholic-Jewish relations.

“The American Jewish Committee has done a great deal both in the United States and in Eastern Europe to eradicate old prejudices and ignorance by making known the radical changes that have taken place these past 35 years in Jewish – Christian understanding,” said Cardinal Cassidy.

“While we still have much to do in the Catholic Church to eradicate once and for all the ‘old spirit of suspicion, resentment and distrust’ and replace it with a new spirit of ‘cooperation, mutual understanding and reconciliation,’ I can assure you that the Church has made an irreversible commitment to deepening this relationship,” said Cassidy.

The Cardinal played a major role in establishing full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel, he was a principal author of the 1998 Vatican document, “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,” and he accompanied the Pope on his historic mission to Israel last year.

“Cardinal Cassidy has always been there for the AJC and the entire Jewish community,” said Rabbi Rudin. “In times of stress he has been a steadying voice of reason for both Catholics and Jews. His public and private words have always been refreshingly honest and direct, and as a result the Catholic-Jewish encounter has been able to weather many storms and crises.”

The Cardinal asked the American Jewish Committee “to continue to promote this partnership by pressing forward along the road that we have built together over the past 35 years. Let us do everything we can to strengthen mutual trust between our two communities.”

The Isaiah Award honors extraordinary achievement in interreligious affairs. Past recipients include Dr. Billy Graham, 1977; Dr. Martin E. Marty, 1990; the late John Cardinal O’Connor, 1990; and Professor Thomas E. Bird, 1996.
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