Lustiger, Jean-Marie Aron

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LUSTIGER, JEAN-MARIE ARON (1926– ), French cardinal. Born in Paris to a family of Jewish immigrants from Bendzin (Poland), during his childhood he converted to Roman Catholicism, being baptized on August 21, 1940, in Orléans. His parents were deported by the Nazis and his mother died in Auschwitz (his father survived). Ordained as a priest in 1954, he headed the Paroisse universitaire in Paris, a parish aimed at the student population, and from 1959 to 1969 the Centre Richelieu, which trained the chaplains working with students. In charge of a Parisian parish until 1969, he was then promoted by Pope John Paul II to bishop of Orléans and, in 1981, to archbishop of Paris, the highest position in the French Church, a position that he held until 2005. He was nominated a cardinal already in 1983 and was considered for many years to be a serious candidate for the papal succession. After his nomination as archbishop, he stated that he considered himself both a Jew and a Christian, a position that provoked controversy. With time, nevertheless, he was recognized as one of the outstanding promoters of better understanding and dialogue between the two religions, as when Jewish organizations opposed the establishment of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz. In 1998, he received the Nostra Aetate Prize of the Sacred Heart University of Fairfield (Connecticut) together with former chief rabbi of France René Samuel Sirat. A member of the Académie française since 1995, he wrote numerous books, including an autobiography, Le choix de Dieu (1987).

[Philippe Boukara (2nd ed.)]