ADL Mourns Passing of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands
New York, NY, August 3, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) mourns the passing of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, a pioneer in the Roman Catholic Church's historic efforts to improve relations with the Jewish people. Cardinal Willebrands died this week at the age of 96 in the Netherlands.
Cardinal Willebrands was a driving force behind the 1965 Second Vatican Council's reforms that repudiated anti-Semitism and the deicide charge against the Jewish people. He was appointed the first president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews when it was established in 1974, and served for two decades.
"We mourn the passing of Cardinal Willebrands, a pioneer in interfaith affairs who was instrumental in beginning the historic reconciliation between Catholics and Jews during the Second Vatican Council," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Not only did Cardinal Willebrands help shepherd the ideal of building a new positive relationship between Jews and Catholics into official church policy, he spent his career working to put those ideals into practice."
The League has expressed its condolences in a letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Willebrands was instrumental in arranging the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to the Great Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986. He oversaw the composition of two crucially important Vatican documents that continued to improve Jewish-Catholic relations during the 1970s and 1980s: "Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration, Nostra Aetate, No. 4" (1974) and "Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Teaching in the Roman Catholic Church" (1985).
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.