Religion, Politics and Moral Decision-Making

Saint Joseph’s University’s Jewish-Catholic Institute hosts interfaith exchange

Thursday, September 4, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (September 4, 2008)—In an election year in which “family values” are much discussed and “faith-based” constituencies of all sorts are increasingly vocal, religious leaders and preachers are forced to deal with a fundamental question: what is to be said from the pulpit during an election campaign?

To address this and other relevant issues, the Jewish-Catholic Institute of Saint Joseph’s University is sponsoring “Religion, Politics and Moral Decision-Making” on Wednesday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m., in the Haub Conference Center in McShain Hall. A reception at 6:30 p.m., precedes the interfaith conversation. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Hawks’ Landing garage on 54th Street and City Avenue.

The evening’s speakers will be Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Senior Rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, Pa., and president of the Delaware Valley Association of Reform Rabbis, and Thomas Massaro, S.J., professor of moral theology at Boston College, and the current holder of the MacLean Chair of Theology at Saint Joseph’s. Rabbi Sussman has written extensively on the history of American Judaism and its role in the public life of the U.S., and Fr. Massaro’s many publications touch on Catholic social teaching on war and peace, welfare reform and business ethics.

Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology and director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute, said that as minority immigrant groups to the United States, both Catholics and Jews negotiated how to maintain their distinctive traditions while also participating in American civic discourse. “Both faith groups adopted varying strategies: some similar, others different. During the present historic presidential campaign, it is fitting for both communities to ‘compare notes’ on their current perspectives on American public life,” he added.

Cunningham also noted that in our pluralistic society, with its constitutional prohibition against establishing any religion as preferred, interesting questions arise when different faith communities, especially of disproportionate size, compete for influence over public policy.

For more information about the program and the Jewish-Catholic Institute, contact Cunningham at 610-660-1863, or

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,

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