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Jerzy Kluger, Jewish boyhood friend of John Paul II, dead at 90

January 02, 2012

Jerzy Kluger, a childhood friend of Blessed John Paul II, died in Rome on December 31 at he age of 90.

The son of a Jewish leader in Wadowice, Poland, Kluger played with his young neighbor Karol Wojtyla in his early years, and their friendship continued through their school days. They were separated during the years of World War II, when Kluger lost most of his family to the Holocaust. But in 1965 Kluger, who had settled in Rome, renewed contact with his old friend. He was a regular visitor to the apostolic palace during the pontificate of John Paul II. Reflecting later on the life of the late Pontiff, Kluger reminded an interviewer that “his first private audience was granted to me--a Jew--and my whole family."

Kluger’s widow said that he had been suffering for several years from Alzheimer’s disease.


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