NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was big news at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan on Friday night.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, Rabbi Arthur Schneier sound out that he is about to be made a Knight of the Roman Catholic Church.
The rabbi knight will be part of one of the same orders that once took part in the crusades. This particular title is “The Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester, Pope and Martyr.”
It’s an honor few non-Catholics have ever received, although the job description has evolved since the old days.
“No horses, no swords, nothing like that,” Joe Zwilling, New York Archdiocese said.
This most unlikely Knight of the Catholic Church has been a rabbi at the East Side synagogue for more than 50 years. He is a holocaust survivor known around the world for learning from the past and urging the use of religion to unite, rather than divide.
“This is a clear message that Pope Francis is continuing rapprochement with the Jewish people,” he said.
Christian knights on horseback and their history are a curious ecumenical symbol, but the order that Rabbi Schneier is joining has been reformed twice. Other non-Christian knights include the likes of Oscar Schindler, who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Rabbi Schneier was visited by Pope Benedict in 2008, and greeted Pope Francis at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Now he gets an official post in the church.
He also had some advice for his sword-wielding brother knights of old.
“Ask for forgiveness, and make sure you do not repeat the mistakes you’ve made against humanity,” he said.
Schneier lacks a horse and sword and said his weapon will be conscience and his ally will be the Pope.