Catholics have joined faith leaders from around the world to offer prayers and tributes, after the death of Rabbi Jonathan Lord Sacks, the internationally renowned philosopher, leading voice in inter-religious dialogue, and the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said on Sunday that he had “lost a friend; the Jewish community a great leader; humanity an eloquent spokesman.”
Rabbi Sacks died in the early morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, at the age of 72. In October, his office announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer “recently,” and was undergoing treatment.
“Chief Rabbi Sacks was a most eloquent proponent of some of the greatest truths of humanity, so often forgotten,” said the cardinal.
“I recall with clarity some of his forceful and persuasive presentations of the truths expressed in Judaism and indeed in the Christian faith, truths which help us to make sense of our lives, our communities and our destinies.”
Sacks was born in South London on March 8, 1948, and educated at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. He went on to postgraduate studies at New College, University of Oxford, and King’s College, London. He received rabbinical ordination in 1976.
After leading several Jewish congregations in London, from 1948-1990 Sacks served as the Principle of Jews’ College, the principal rabbinical seminary of the United Synagogue. Sacks was chosen to serve as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in 1991, a position which he kept until 2013.
In 2009, Sacks was created a life peer with a seat in the House of Lords in the U.K. Parliament, taking the title Baron Sacks of Aldgate in the City of London. Sacks sat in the House of Lords as a crossbench peer, independent of any political party.
Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University called the news of Sacks death “devastating,” and paid tribute to his “beloved friend.” And offered his “love and deepest condolences” to Sacks’ family “and to the Jewish community of Britain and the world.”
“Now he belongs to the ages.”
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