NEW YORK – Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, took advantage of his trip to the United States to participate in the September 6-8 U.N. Millennium Summit on behalf of John Paul II, to visit some Catholic communities in the country and to have a very moving meeting with Jewish representatives.
On September 5, the 72-year-old Cardinal was welcomed by Seton Hall University, in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and granted an honorary doctorate.
During the academic ceremony, Msgr. Robert Sheeran, the University’s president, introduced the Cardinal to the institution, and said that more than 50 priests from the Archdiocese carry out apostolic work in it.
During his address, Cardinal Sodano thanked the University for the honor, and spoke about the reasons which make the Church’s presence in U.N. international forums imperative. The Church endeavors to fulfil its mission to be the yeast of the Gospel in today’s society, through its pontifical representatives and Vatican observers in international organizations.
Taking advantage of his visit to the U.S.’s financial capital, the Cardinal visited the Legionaries of Christ’s philosophy campus in Thornwood, New York. While there, he offered Mass for the more than 100 seminarians who were beginning the new academic year.
On September 7, representatives of the world Jewish community gave the Cardinal a document in recognition of the work carried out by John XXIII in support of the Jews during the Second World War. At that time, John XXIII, who was recently beatified by the Pope, was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey. During the meeting, which took place in the Vatican Mission’s U.N. office, the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation expressed its hope that John XXIII would be honored as one of the ”just among the nations” the most prestigious award conferred by the State of Israel on those who collaborated in saving the lives of persecuted Jews.
Rabbi David Algaze presided over the ceremony, which was attended, among others, by Archbishop Renato Martino, U.N. Vatican Observer.
In thanking the Jewish community for its recognition of Blessed John XXIII, Cardinal Sodano confirmed the importance of the often silent work of pontifical representatives. During the Second World War, these did everything possible to save the lives of the innocent, by pressuring governments to respect the principles of international law and seeking information on the situation in the countries where they were posted.
In the afternoon of the same day, Cardinal Sodano was received by Bishop James McHugh of Rockville Center, in the parish of St. Paul the Apostle in Brookville, New York. The Cardinal visited this community to confer honors on the friends and collaborators of the Vatican Mission at the U.N.
The Vatican Secretary of State also addressed the situation in the Holy Land while he was in New York. On September 8, in the morning, he visited the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, an agency established with the blessing of Pius IX, which has the decisive support of U.S. Catholics. During his brief visit, the Cardinal was able to greet the association’s 50 collaborators, and to encourage them to continue in their work of service to Christians in the Middle East and India.
On Saturday, September 9, after being visited by New York’s new Archbishop Edward Egan, Cardinal Sodano celebrated Mass in the Church of Our Savior to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United States’ presence in the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
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