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.

Established shortly after the Second Vatican Council, the Institute is inspired by the spirit of reconciliation and friendship expressed by Pope Saint 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 Saint 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.

 

Pope Saint John Paul II at the Western Wall

Pope Saint John Paul II praying at the Western Wall.

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. The Institute supports and its staff participates in several national and international research and dialogue initiatives. Studying Jews and Christians in Medieval ArtScholars of the "Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today" project at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

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. For this reason the Institute is directed by two professors in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

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 community.

Drs. Cunningham and Gregerman IJCR directors Philip Cunningham and Adam Gregerman.

The Institute’s purpose to increase knowledge and deepen understanding has been confirmed by Pope Francis: "Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common and respect in matters on which we disagree: all these can help to guide us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God's hands." Such rapprochement between two communities so long estranged from one another is a sign of hope for other interreligious conflicts that beset humanity.
 

Therefore, 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 and enrich 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.

 

Friends in Faith high school dialogueCatholic and Jewish high school students visit each other's schools in an Institute-supported program.