Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations

Vision Statement

Flowing from the Catholic and Ignatian identity of Saint Joseph’s University, the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations seeks to increase knowledge and deepen understanding between the Jewish and Catholic communities. In keeping with the contemporary Ignatian vision of educating "men and women for others," the Institute is guided by the University’s commitment to: Spirit – Intellect – Purpose.




Established shortly after the Second Vatican Council, the Institute is inspired by the spirit of reconciliation and friendship expressed by Pope John XXIII to a Jewish delegation at the Vatican: “I am Joseph, your brother!” (Genesis 45:4).   The Institute is motivated by the spirit of Pope John Paul II who not only declared “that the path along which we [Catholics] should proceed with the Jewish religious community is one of fraternal dialogue and fruitful collaboration,” but who during the Great Jubilee of 2000 formally offered to God the following prayer of penitence and commitment at St. Peter’s Basilica and at Jerusalem’s Western Wall:

God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and asking Your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant 

  John Paul II at the Great Synagogue of Rome



The transformation in relations between Jews and Catholics that has unfolded since the Shoah and the Second Vatican Council has given rise to questions rarely considered since New Testament times.  Recognizing that their interrelationship touches on the respective identities of the Jewish and Catholic communities, and keenly aware of the long history of theological antipathy between them, the Institute is committed to academic research and education in Christian-Jewish and especially Catholic-Jewish relations.  It is also dedicated to promoting opportunities for Jews and Catholics to be “study partners,” teaching and learning about themselves and each other by studying and experiencing together texts, rituals, events, and places.  While this scholarly work involves history, literature, sociology, psychology, and other disciplines, the Institute is especially committed to the study of and education about the theologies that have shaped and continue to shape Catholic and Jewish self-understanding in relation to the other.

  Studying Jews and Christians in Medieval Art



The Institute’s purpose to increase knowledge and deepen understanding between Jews and Catholics looks forward to “a new future in which there will be no more anti-Jewish feeling among Christians or anti-Christian feeling among Jews,” as Pope John Paul II prayed at Yad Vashem. Such rapprochement between two communities so long estranged from one another is a sign of hope for other interreligious conflicts that beset humanity. Furthermore, the Institute is committed to sincere and honest interreligious dialogue in which there is no intention to convert or persuade but only to learn from each other.  Dialogue and shared learning experiences enrich and deepen the respective identities of Jews and Catholics, empowering them to work together for social justice, respect for the rights of persons and nations, and for social and international reconciliation.


Catholics and Jews Dialogue at a Seder Meal