Director of Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations to be Honored at Gratz College Commencement

Monday, May 8, 2017

by Elizabeth Krakoviak '17

Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Jewish-Catholic Relations and professor of theology and religious studies, will receive an honorary doctoral degree at the Gratz College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21 at 3 p.m. According to the college, he is being honored as “a leader in the world of interfaith relations.”

Named director of the Institute in 2008, Cunningham was elected president of the International Council of Christians and Jews in 2014. He is also the secretary-treasurer for the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations and manages its online resource library, Dialogika. He has also been a member of the Advisory Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a delegate for the Vatican at international conferences on relations between Christians and Jews.

“The way that Catholics and Jews are able to converse, study, and collaborate together today is virtually unprecedented in the last two thousand years of history,” says Cunningham. “Because of what Pope Francis has called the ‘Jewish and Catholic journey of friendship,’ it is now possible for us to discern the elusive presence of God in one another's lives and traditions. I believe that we have the responsibility to deepen the remarkable new relationship with which we've been blessed.”

Cunningham recently published his twelfth authored or edited book, Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews. Released in 2015, the volume traces the passage from antipathy and suspicion to a new, mutually enriching relationship between the ancient traditions of Judaism and Catholicism. He has also co-edited Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships and The Catholic Church and the Jewish People: Recent Reflections from Rome.

Cunningham holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Education from Boston College, an M.A. in Religious Education from LaSalle University, and an M.S. in Education and a B.A. in history from Fordham University.

Gratz College is the first independent college for Jewish studies in North America. Located in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania, it is internationally recognized as a leader in developing effective educators, professionals, leaders and scholars, both within and beyond the Jewish community. The college provides a pluralistic education grounded in Jewish values and offers graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs. Its commencement ceremony will take place on campus and it is open to the public.



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