America magazine: “Some of Europe’s top tourist destinations are homes to anti-Semitic imagery. What should be done?”

July 13, 2018



[originally published HERE]

by Menachem Wecker

Water has damaged the 18th-century frescos, but visitors to the cloister of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo in Spain can still discern a haloed boy nailed to a cross depicted on one side of a doorway. On the opposite frame, the artist Francisco Bayeu painted the child’s abduction. In both works ominous, bearded men look on, reflecting the typical portrayal of Jews in connection with the historic accusation of blood libel.

The frescoes appear in an otherwise idyllic cloister, located about a 10-minute walk from Toledo’s Sinagoga del Tránsito, and another five minutes from the former synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, which is now a church. The anti-Semitic imagery hides in plain sight in an otherwise tranquil spot, the soft brush strokes masking a violent message.


Huffington Post: “Jewish Groups Condemn Sainthood Candidate Backed By Pope As An ‘Anti-Semite’”

July 6, 2018

Cardinal August Hlond, who led the Polish Catholic Church during WWII, warned about the “harmful moral influence of Jews.”

Polish Cardinal August Hlond was a top-ranking Catholic official during World War II. (Tony Linck via Getty Images)

Prominent Jewish groups are condemning Pope Francis’ decision to push Poland’s top Roman Catholic priest during and after World War II further along the road to sainthood, claiming the would-be saint’s legacy is tainted by anti-Semitic views.

Pope Francis confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Cardinal August Hlond in late May, which means that he put a stamp of approval on a Vatican body’s initial review of the priest’s candidacy for sainthood. The Vatican now needs to confirm Hlond’s involvement in two miracles before the priest, who died in 1948, can become a saint.

But two leading U.S.-based Jewish organizations, the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, have already stepped in to question Hlond’s attitude toward Polish Jews.

Rabbi David Rosen, the AJC’s director of interreligious affairs, criticized Hlond in a letter to the pontifical commission tasked with maintaining good relations with Jews.


Institute Wishes Godspeed to Dr. William Madges

May 17, 2018


Dr. William Madges receives S&E statuette from IJCR directors.

At its May 17, 2018 meeting, the Institute’s Board of Directors expressed sadness, admiration, and gratitude to Dr. William Madges as he prepares to assume the position of Chair of the Department of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati. The Board presented him with a miniature version of the original sculpture “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” which he had been instrumental in realizing.

Vatican exhibit banner.

Dr. Madges, who specializes in historical theology, came to SJU in 2006 to become the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. He left that position in 2013 to return to teaching and research in theology. Catholic-Jewish relations is particular important to him: he was a co-creator of the traveling exhibit, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, which has been seen by more that one million people in the United States and displayed in the Vatican Museum.

He has also been very committed to the mission of SJU’s Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations.


Religion News Service: “Christians, Jews and the dubious history of the Passion play”

March 27, 2018

By A. James Rudin. RNS

John Legend, as Jesus, is carried during a dress rehearsal scene from NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC.


(RNS) — Passover and Easter once again coincide this year. The first seder (Passover meal) of the eight-day Jewish festival is on March 30, and Easter falls two days later.

During this holiday season, the focus for Christians is on the last days of Jesus’ life, the subject of a new documentary hosted by “Downton Abbey” actor Hugh Bonneville. “Jesus: Countdown to Calvary,” will air on most public television stations before Easter.

Christian Passion plays will be performed in many venues, including an NBC live performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on April 1. On the same day, NBC will also air “Easter Mysteries,” an oratorio by Tony-award winner John O’Boyle that focuses on the Jewishness of Jesus and his followers. Both television productions feature an African-American actor portraying Jesus.

Philip Cunningham. Photo courtesy of Saint Joseph’s University

Philip Cunningham, a theology professor and co-director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University, and the editor of “Pondering the Passion: What’s at Stake for Christians and Jews?,” describes O’Boyle’s efforts as “a reflection … upon the significance for Christian faith. … It is less concerned with the causes or the extent of his sufferings than with the new life that Christians find in the Raised Jesus.”


The Hawk: “Bettering Jewish-Christian relations – Rabbi Abraham Skorka coming to Hawk Hill in the fall”

March 21, 2018
by Ryan Mulligan ’21
Hawk Staff

Rabbi Skorka meets with Pope Francis at St. Joe’s on Sept. 27, 2015 (Photo by Vatican Photo Services).

Rabbi Abraham Skorka has been appointed to the position of “University Professor,” according to a Feb. 19 announcement made by University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, Skorka will work closely with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations and will directly collaborate with the institute’s directors, Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology and Adam Gregerman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Jewish studies, who both work in the department of theology and religious studies.

“He has a lot of experience in interreligious dialogue and Catholic-Jewish relations,” Cunningham said. “We’re looking forward to working with him on expanding and developing programs in connection with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations.” (more…)

Celebrating Five Years of Pope Francis: People, Mercy, Dialogue

March 12, 2018

[From SJU News]

Pope Francis visits ‘Synagoga’ and ‘Ecclesia’ in Our Time

As Pope Francis’s papacy reaches the five-year mark, experts from Saint Joseph’s University, one of the nation’s 28 Jesuit universities, reflect on the meaning and power of his contributions to Catholicism and the global community and what makes his ministry uniquely Jesuit.

Pope Francis visited Saint Joseph’s campus during his 2015 American tour, where he was reunited with his longtime friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Their friendship is embodied in the University’s sculpture, Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time, which commemorates Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document that transformed the relationship between the Catholic Church and other religions, most especially with Judaism.

Intellect Magazine: “Differing Perspectives on the Holy Land”

March 6, 2018

The following article appeared in the spring 2018 issue of Intellect, the magazine of SJU’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Enabling Fruitful Dialogues

By Marisa (Fulton) Benjamin ’03

The International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) was receiving the same request for help, over and over again. When local Jewish and Christian dialogue groups met, in countries all over the world, its members could not discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without verbal battle.

“The polarizing power of this topic is tremendous,” says interfaith scholar Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology and director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations (IJCR) at Saint Joseph’s. “I was hearing reports regularly that when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came up, people were suddenly at each other’s throats.” Cunningham is the ICCJ’s most recent past president.


Rabbi Abraham Skorka Named SJU University Professor

February 19, 2018

Appointment will help to further the mission of the University’s Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations

Rabbi Abraham Skorka delivers the keynote address at the dedication of “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” September 25, 2015.

PHILADELPHIA ([date] 2018) – Saint Joseph’s University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., announced today the appointment of Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Ph.D., as University Professor beginning in the fall of 2018. He will work closely with the directors of the University’s Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations to develop and expand its educational and research programs with the goal of promoting deeper understanding between Catholics and Jews.


A Healing Relationship in Interfaith Dialogue

November 13, 2017

SJU hosted expert panelists in discussion of Orthodox Jews and the Catholic Church.

Monday, November 13, 2017

by Katie Smith ’15

On Thursday, Nov. 9, faculty, students, local faith leaders and community members gathered at Saint Joseph’s University for a panel discussion sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Catholic Relations (IJCR). Panelists Rabbi Mark Dratch and Rabbi Eugene Korn, Ph.D., spoke on two statements recently issued by Orthodox Jews on their relationship to the Catholic Church. Dratch and Korn were principal authors on each statement respectively.

“A talk like this would be unimaginable to my grandfather,” began Korn, a scholar from Jerusalem and the academic director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Cooperation and Understanding in Israel.


Call for Papers: “Fulfilling the Promise of a New Relationship”

October 18, 2017

An Academic Roundtable on Christian-Jewish Relations

Monday, January 7 to
Thursday, January 10, 2019

St. Raphaela Center, 616 Coopertown Rd, Haverford, PA 19041



The Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia was founded in 1967 to increase knowledge and deepen understanding between Jews and Catholics through shared study. As part of this mission, the Institute is issuing a call for papers for an academic conference entitled “Fulfilling the Promise of a New Relationship” to occur January 7-10, 2019. The conference will include both scholarly presentations of papers and roundtable discussions.