Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop emeritus of Paris (France), was born in the French capital on 17 September 1926 of parents who were Polish Jews and had emigrated to France at the beginning of the century. During the Nazi occupation his parents were deported and his mother died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz in 1943. The young Jean-Marie was spared because he was taken in by a family in Orléans. Through contact with them he was converted to Catholicism and was baptized on 25 August 1940 in the chapel of the bishop’s residence where twenty years later he would be the pastor.
He studied at the Montaigne Lyceum in Paris, then in Orléans, and later at the Sorbonne. In the years of university studies, he was an active member of the Young Christian Students. After working for a year as a mechanic in Decazenville in the southwest of France, he entered the Carmelite Seminary in Paris. He earned a degree from the Catholic Institute in theology and a licentiate in letters and in philosophy from the Sorbonne. He was ordained a priest on 17 April 1954.
As chaplain of students, he gave assistance in spiritual renewal at Richelieu Center. He was often a tour guide for pilgrims and student groups to Rome, Chartres, and the Holy Land.
In 1969, he was called to direct the Parish of St. Jeanne de Chantal, in which his dynamism and pastoral activity was put at the service of young and old. He sermons were much sought, some of which were collected into a volume.
On 10 November 1979, John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Orléans. Episcopal ordination was conferred on 8 December by Cardinal Marty in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, Mons. Angelo Felici and 17 Bishops.
On 31 January 1981 he succeeded Cardinal Marty in the Archdiocese of Paris. He also served as Ordinary for Eastern-Rite faithful in France without ordinaries of their own.
In the archdiocese, he has always dedicated himself to pastoral work, which he has always carried out with relentless activity. During this time, he has given numerous homilies and conferences in France and abroad.
Staunch defender of human rights, upon his announcement of being named Cardinal, he said that he considers this dignity more as a responsibility than an honour, in so far as "it concerns carrying even more the burden of the whole Church".
Archbishop emeritus of Paris, 11 February 2005.
Ordinary emeritus for Eastern-Rite faithful in France without ordinaries of their own, 14 March 2005.
President Delegate to the 1st Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops (1991).
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 2 February 1983, of the Title of St. Louis of the French.
Cardinal Lustiger died on 5 August 2007.