The intervention of the Vatican in reaffirming the 1987 agreement to withdraw the Carmelite Convent from the grounds of the Auschwitz death camp is welcome. So, too, is the acceptance of Rome's wishes by the Catholic Primate of Poland, Cardinal Jozef Glemp.
Steps have been quickly taken to restore a dialogue between Roman Catholics and world Jewish leaders. Those contacts had been largely suspended last February when the deadline for moving the convent passed without action by the Polish Church.
The dialogue will not be helped by the anti-Semitic tone of some of Glemp's comments and the angry response of Cardinal Franciszek Macharski of Cracow to a regrettable Jewish demonstration at the convent. But it was notable that Glemp's announcement came in a letter to Sir Sigmund Sternberg, chairman of the international Council for Christians and Jews, which was written during a meeting between Glemp and Jewish leaders.
The Vatican statement reflects a determination to restore good relations. That commitment is reaffirmed both by earlier statements of Pope John Paul II and the work of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, a distinguished leader in programs designed to improve unity among Christians and cooperation among the religions of the world. Respectful cooperation is implicit in the plan to move the convent to an interfaith center.