Rabbi Arthur Schneier has been conferred the title of Papal Knight of Saint Sylvester by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the presence of top religious leaders and elected officials.
According to Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio, and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, who hosted the ceremony, “Pope Francis is bestowing the honor on Rabbi Arthur Schneier who has worked unceasingly to promote peace and mutual understanding, in the firm conviction that respect for fundamental human rights, including religious freedom, are indispensable values for all peoples of the world to enjoy peace, security and shared prosperity. A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Schneier has always held this conviction in his heart and made it a principle of life.”
Born in Vienna in 1930, Rabbi Schneier survived the Holocaust in Budapest, Hungary in 1945 and arrived in the United States in 1947. Rabbi Arthur Schneier has been the Senior Rabbi of the 125-year old Park East Synagogue, one of New York City’s historic landmark houses of worship since 1962; he founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965.
“The rare honor bestowed upon me by Pope Francis as Knight of Saint Sylvester marks the 50th anniversary of my meetings in the Vatican and the beginning of the cooperation between the Holy See and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in helping advance religious freedom and human rights,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier. “It is also the year that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, a turning point in Catholic Jewish relations.”
According to Rabbi Schneier, “The visit of Saint Pope John Paul II to the Rome synagogue, Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to synagogues in Europe as well as Park East Synagogue, the first papal visit to a synagogue in the United States, are historic events that have contributed to the evolving relationship between Catholic Church and the Jewish people. With great joy I helped welcome Pope Francis at the Wall in Jerusalem. I am greatly honored to be recognized by His Holiness, a voice of conscience who has embraced humanity with his outreach, compassion, love and mercy to all of God’s children.”
Rabbi Schneier also stated that, “As we remember the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe, sadly, the hope for a new world order of peace has not materialized. We face once again a volatile world in conflict with radical extremist having hijacked religion to legitimize their barbarism inflicted on religious minorities particularly, Christian minorities who are in the front line of persecution being oppressed, uprooted and decapitated.”
Rabbi Arthur Schneier renewed his plea to stop those who abuse their role as religious leaders, We clearly must rebut the preachers of hate who incite violence, demonize other faiths and help spread anti-Semitism, Christianophobia, Islamophobia. A crime perpetrated in the name of religion, is the greatest crime against religion. Join me in awakening a public in the slumber of indifference and apathy to these heinous crimes. May God protect and shield us and help our joint efforts in pursuit of peace and security.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was awarded the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal for “his service as an international envoy for four administrations, devoting a lifetime to overcoming the forces of hatred and intolerance by encouraging interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding and promoting the cause of religious freedom around the world.” Rabbi Schneier has also received the U.S. Department of State Special Recognition Award and has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was named as one of the 100 most trustworthy people in the U.S. by the Readers’ Digest magazine poll and listed as one the most influential rabbis in the U.S. by Newsweek Magazine. He is the recipient of eleven honorary doctorates from U.S. and European universities and was awarded the Legion of Honor, high awards from Germany, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Spain.
The ceremony was attended by former United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D- NY). Former New York City Mayor, David Dinkins. Former New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly. Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Archbishop Barsamian, of the Armenian Church of America. The Reverend Dr. Fred R. Anderson, of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church-Trustees of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation-Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, The Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis and Imam al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Abraham Foxman, The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and Rabbi Michael Miller, The Executive VP & CEO of The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.