SJU Confers Honorary Degree on World Interfaith Leader

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, received the degree of Honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology (honoris causa) from Saint Joseph’s University, in the Vatican, on Jan. 11, 2011.

William Madges, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Philip Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology and director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University, traveled to Rome to bestow the degree on Cardinal Kasper.

The citation praised Cardinal Kasper for his dedication to the vision of a new relationship between Catholics and Jews set forth by the Second Vatican Council, for his labors to begin to achieve that vision as President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and for his exemplary modeling of the work of a Catholic theologian in service to the Church and to interreligious understanding.

“Saint Joseph’s University is honored to recognize His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper for his lifelong commitment to the vital work of forging a new relationship between Catholics and Jews,” said University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. “Through his work, Cardinal Kasper has helped to inspire interfaith friendship throughout the world. His legacy, which is one of reconciliation and dialogue linking these two great religions, has helped to shape a promising future.”

“I am very honored to receive this doctorate and I want to express my deep gratitude to the University and its president, to the faculty and to you,” said Cardinal Kasper, on receiving the award. “It was also my honor to serve in this field of reconciliation and peace, and to make the Church more a sign and a lighthouse for peace.”

“For more than 40 years, Saint Joseph’s University and its Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations have been committed to seeking deeper understanding between the Jewish and Catholic communities,” said Madges. “On behalf of the University, it was indeed a privilege to honor Cardinal Kasper, who is recognized as one of the most influential figures in this global movement to bring harmony among these two faith traditions.”

“Over the last decade, Cardinal Kasper has delivered several groundbreaking papers about the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, all of which have furthered the rapprochement begun by the Second Vatican Council,” said Cunningham. “He has, for example, creatively described Judaism as being for Catholics like ‘a sacrament of every otherness, that, as such, the Church must learn to discern, recognize and celebrate.’”

The full text of the citation and Cardinal Kasper’s remarks may be viewed at the Institute’s website.

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