Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger was the Archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005.

Author of some 20 books, he is a member of the Académie Francaise and a major figure in Christian-Jewish dialogue, and he has become an indispensable point of reference for any substantive discussion of French and European affairs.

Lustiger was born in Paris in 1926, the son of Polish Jewish migrants.

He converted to the Catholic faith in 1940, but in what has been a paradoxical position for most, and a highly controversial one for many, he has never ceased to identify with his Jewish background and experience, including the death of his mother in Auschwitz. After the war, he studied literature and history at the Sorbonne, before his ordination as a priest in 1954.

He was director of the Centre Richelieu, the Catholic chaplaincy of the Sorbonne for 10 years, from 1959 to 1969.

After a decade as parish priest in Paris, in 1979 Lustiger became Bishop of Orleans, and then Archbishop of Paris in 1981. Appointed as a cardinal in 1983, Lustiger has played a major role in many key Vatican commissions. He has been at the forefront of Christian-Jewish dialogue within France and Europe, and has been a pivotal figure in debate on immigration issues, being particularly outspoken in his attacks on racism and the rise of right-wing extremism. A convinced Europeanist, he has lent his eloquence to the cause of Franco-German reconciliation and of a European idea founded on deeply shared values of liberty and human rights.

In 1998, he received the Nostra Aetate Award at the Sutton Place Synagogue in New York for his contribution to Jewish-Christian understanding. In 1995 Lustiger was elected to the French Academy, where he took up his seat in 1996. Cardinal Lustiger is a European of extraordinary distinction, who has made major contributions to the areas of Jewish-Christian dialogue and the strengthening of human rights.

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