In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.
He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”
Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi and butcher.
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