Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Ma maman"

Some years ago I had the pleasure of accompanying the American Boychoir of Princeton, NJ, on a European tour. One of our stops was at a Nazi death camp in Austria, where I witnessed the horrors of the extermination program. I’ll never forget the face of one young Jewish choir boy who, witnessing the line of Stars of David in a field outside the gas chamber, said, “Father, I think I’m going to cry.”

This incident came back to me as I read the story of Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, son of a Holocaust victim, who died August 5 at the age of 80.

During France's National Day of Remembrance to commemorate the deportation and death of French Jews during World War II, Lustiger, taking part in the reading of names in 1999, came to his mother's. "Gisele Lustiger," he said, then added, "ma maman," or "my mama," before continuing, Catholic World News reported.

Jean Marie, converted at the age of 14, became a priest, a brilliant scholar and author, and a great Archbishop of Paris, who worked hard to improve relations between Christians and Jews.

May he rest in peace!