The Catholic-Jewish Rapprochement and the Fraying of American Pluralism

Monday, March 30, 2020, 7-8:30 p.m.

Seminar Room 2, Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

The post-Second World War “journey of friendship” between Jews and Catholics, as Pope Francis has called it, has showed the world that it is possible for two communities that had been estranged and hostile to one another for over a millennium to come together in a new and enriching relationship. Yet today our country has seen increases in inter-ethnic polemics and violence, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and polarization. What helpful lessons can be learned from the Catholic and Jewish experience of rapprochement? What preconditions were necessary for reconciliation to become possible? What was necessary for that possibility to become a deepening reality? What are the “dos” and “don’ts” for building real relationships? Our two guest speakers will discuss these and related questions.

Guest Speakers:

Rev. Dr. Walter F. Kedjierski is the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He previously served as the Director of the Diocese of Rockville Center’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and as a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum. Father Kedjierski was a member of the board of trustees of the Inter-Faith Center of the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, NY for three years. He has facilitated numerous ecumenical and interreligious dialogues, including a dialogue on non-violence with Indian Hindu scholar Swami Nikhileswarananda. He holds an Ed.D. in Interfaith and Ecumenical Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana and a Ph.D. in Dogmatic/Spiritual Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation’s Foundation House at Oxford University.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka is University Professor at Saint Joseph’s University, working with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations. He previously served as the Rector of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer, which trains Masorti / Conservative rabbis, cantors and educators in the Latin American Jewish Community. In addition, he served as Senior Rabbi of the Masorti Olami Community (Worldwide Conservative Movement) Benei Tikva in Buenos Aires. He has been a professor of biblical and rabbinic literature at the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano and honorary professor of Hebrew Law at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and has published several books and articles in that field as well as in Biblical and Talmudic studies. Following in the footsteps of Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Marshall T. Meyer, he has been committed to interreligious dialogue for decades. With the future Pope Francis, he engaged in dozens of televised conversations in Argentina and with him published a book of their private dialogues about various religious topics.