Loading
Lifelong Jewish friend of John Paul II dies at age 90
By David Kerr
Blessed Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II

.- Jerzy Kluger, the lifelong Jewish friend of Pope John Paul II, died at the age of 90 on Jan. 2 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

Although born in the southern Polish city of Krakow, Kluger grew up in the nearby town of Wadowice, where his father was a lawyer and prominent leader of the local Jewish community.

Wadowice was also the hometown of the future Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla.

The two boys lived across from each other on the town’s main square. They became great childhood friends and would always refer to each other by their nicknames. Jerzy was “Jurek” and Karol was “Lolek.” 

The two also went to school together and would often help each other with homework. Outside of academic pursuits, the two boys loved to play soccer as well as go hiking and swimming in the surrounding countryside when the weather permitted. 

Kluger lost his immediate family during the Nazi persecution of World War II. His grandmother died in the death camp at Belzec in Poland while his sister and mother died at Auschwitz.  

After being imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp, he joined the free Polish army and fought for the Allies in Egypt and Italy. It was here he eventually settled, in Rome, after completing a degree in engineering at the University of Nottingham in England.

Although the two men lost touch during the war years, they were brought back together when the then Bishop Wojtyla of Krakow attended the Second Vatican Council in Rome in 1962. 

They remained friends until the Pope John Paul’s death in 2005. In fact, his first private audience upon becoming Pope in 1978 was reserved for the Kluger family.

It has often been reported that Kluger was key informal adviser to the Pope on Jewish matters and helped smooth the path that led to the Vatican establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993.

In his 1994 book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Pope John Paul explained how his upbringing in Wadowice had made him more aware as Pope of the need for improved Jewish-Catholic relations.

He recalled his elementary school where “at least a fourth of the pupils were Jewish. I should mention my friendship at school with one of them, Jerzy Kluger – a friendship that has lasted from my school days to the present.”   

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Sep
2

Liturgical Calendar

September 2, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Gospel
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 2:10B-16
Gospel:: Lk 4:31-37

Saint of the Day

Martyrs of September »

Saint
Date
08/31/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Homily
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: