Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, remembered all around the world, and “at home”

This article was translated by John R. Bopp

On September 4, Basque Cardinal Roger Etchegaray passed away. Born in Espelette in 1922, he became one of the leading figures in Vatican diplomacy for decades, taking charge of the hardest and most difficult missions.

We spoke about him way back in February of 2011, when an article was published in the Italian daily La Stampa discussing his views of China, which he had visited on four occasions in order to build bridges and heal old wounds.

That was the work he carried out for decades, which is why media all over the world have covered his passing.

The Lehendakari of the Basque Government paid tribute to him, highlighting his commitment to Justice and Peace, and attended his funeral in Cambo-les-Bains.

Authorities to the north of the Pyrenees, where he was born and well regarded, did the same.

In 2008, he received that year’s Sabino Arana award for his work promoting peace, dialog, and justice around the world, as the Foundation that gave him the award recalled when giving his eulogy.

We also wanted to pay homage to this Universal Basque by choosing four articles that talk about him.

Two were written after his death.  The first is his obituary in The New York Times by Anna Momigliano; the second is in The Times of Israel and is the impressive, emotional personal testimony of rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, an activist in favor of inter-religious dialog.

The others were written while he was still alive.  One was published in The Times of Malta by Joe Galea; the other is an AFP interview on the website of the Diocese of Bayonne.

In all of them, we can see the importance, influence, commitment, and humanity of this extraordinary universal Basque, who stated in an interview that the Basque Land is “what made me what I am” (“qui a fait de moi ce que je suis”).

Goian Bego.


The New York Times – 12/9/2019 – USA

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a skilled diplomat and troubleshooter dispatched by his friend Pope John Paul II to negotiate for the Roman Catholic Church with Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, died on Sept. 4 in his native French Basque country. He was 96.

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The Times of Israel – 6/9/2019 – Israel

Remembering Cardinal Roger Etchegaray – A Testimony of Friendship

A 96 year old Cardinal just passed away – Roger Etchegaray, for many years one of the most important figures in the Vatican. He was a trusted confidante of Pope John Paul II, who sent him on specially sensitive missions, such as negotiating with Sadam Hussein in an attempt to prevent the gulf war. More importantly for the present post, he was a true friend of the Jewish people, who deeply appreciated Judaism and its integrity, long before it became the norm in Catholic teaching

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Times of Malta – 29/5/2019 – Malta

A cardinal in Cuba

In the book J’ai senti battre le coeur du monde (I heard the heartbeat of the world) Cardinal Roger Etchegaray gives a series of interesting interviews to the author, Bernard Lecomte. Mgr Etchegaray was Archbishop of Marseille from 1970 to 1985 before entering the Roman Curia where he served as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1984 to 1998 and was President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum from 1984 to 1995.

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Diocese64 – 28/8/2014 – Euskadi

Roger Etchegaray, Basque et cardinal à la retraite, avec “un oeil sur le monde”

A presque 92 ans, le cardinal Roger Etchegaray, pendant ses vacances de retraité dans son bourg natal basque d’Espelette, continue à jeter “un oeil sur le monde” dans la lignée des grands prélats français qui ont marqué l’histoire du Vatican.

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