John Cardinal O’Connor – High Holy Day Message to the Jewish Community of North America
8 September 1999
The Jewish High Holy Days come once again, reminding the world of who created it, who blesses it with life, and who judges it in his merciful justice. G-d, who gives all humanity the dignity of being made in his image, has chosen Israel as his particular people that they may be an example of faithfulness for all the nations of the earth. With sincere love and true admiration for your fidelity to the Covenant, I am happy once again to send my greetings for a blessed New Year.
This Sabbath evening, as the celebration of Rosh Hashanah commences, a new decade will begin. During the year 5760 we Christians will start a new era of the year 2000, the turn of another millennium in our history. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has asked all Christians to enter this new millennium in the spirit of Jubilee. Part of the process of Jubilee is a call for teshuva, or repentance. Ash Wednesday, March 8, has been specially set aside as a day for Catholics to reflect upon the pain inflicted on the Jewish people by many of our members over the last millennium. We most sincerely want to start a new era.
I pray that as you begin a new decade, and as we begin another millennium in our Jewish-Christian relationship, we will refresh our encounter with a new respect and even love for one another as children of G-d. Working in our own ways, but also working together, let us both remain committed to the fulfillment of G-d’s reign. I ask this Yom Kippur that you understand my own abject sorrow for any member of the Catholic Church, high or low, including myself, who may have harmed you or your forebears in any way.
Be assured of my prayers and friendship.
L’shanah tovah tikotevu!