Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York recently conferred a papal knighthood on Rabbi Arthur Schneier for “good works” he has done to “promote religious freedom and international peace.” Schneier, 85, is the senior rabbi of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan. The Synagogue was the first Jewish place of worship in the United States visited by a pope when Benedict XVI visited New York in 2008.
Rabbi Schneier, who is a Holocaust survivor, has met several popes, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, in private audiences and he was on hand to welcome Pope Francis to the Western Wall in Jerusalem last year. Schneier was named a papal knight of St. Sylvester, the oldest Catholic order of knighthood.
Schneier founded the interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965. He has been present in world trouble spots to promote tolerance.
“It’s Pope Francis’s very touching, very tender way of confirming him in the good works that he’s done on behalf of religious freedom, international peace and justice,” said Dolan before pinning a Knight’s Cross on the rabbi.
Others in attendance were former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger; former Mayor David N. Dinkins; United States Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat; and Raymond W. Kelly, the former police commissioner. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church of the USA, the Armenian Church in America, a Muslim and other influential rabbis.
It is extremely unusual for a non-Catholic to be awarded the rare papal knighthood. But in the interest of promoting better relations between Jews and Catholics, some Jews who have been supportive of the work of the Roman Catholic Church have received papal knighthoods, said Dolan.
Pope John Paul II had conferred knighthood on Bob Hope, Roy E. Disney and Rupert Murdoch.
“God’s Word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men.” Great Controversy, page 581