These pages list past Institute programs and its directors' presentations elsewhere. Streaming videos are available for many recent events.

The Lifting of the Excommunications of Bishops Ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

February 3, 2009

A Briefing and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. |  Barbelin Hall – Room 264


  • Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Carroll, Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Philip A. Cunningham, Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations
  • Rabbi Alan Iser, Executive Committee, Philadelphia Board of Rabbis; adjunct instructor, SJU and Villanova

Absp Marcel LeFebvre

On January 21, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of four bishops who had been ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). These 1988 ordinations violated a papal prohibition, resulting in the excommunications of all involved. The SSPX rejects the ecumenical and interreligious outreach of the Second Vatican Council, which it believes contradicts Catholic “Tradition.”  It had requested the lifting of the excommunications, but had not renounced its rejection of the Council.

One the four bishops, Richard Williamson, gave an interview in which he denied that the Shoah (Holocaust) had resulted in the deaths of six million Jews in gas chambers. This added to the controversy over the pope’s action, which for some called into question his commitment to a vigorous implementation of the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate. Rabbinical bodies in several countries, including Israel, Germany, and Italy, have withdrawn from scheduled events with the Catholic Church.

To update the SJU community on this fast-moving story, the Institute is happy to sponsor this panel discussion to explore the controversy.

Contemporary Questions about Covenant and Conversion

January 11, 2009

Dr. Edward Kessler

Sunday, January 11, 2009, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in  Mandeville Hall Room 103

In recent years, several controversies have beset official relations between Jews and Catholics. These include whether Catholics should pray for the conversion of Jews, whether the purpose of interreligious dialogue is to lead others to Christian faith, and whether Catholics should undertake non-coercive “missions” to Jews. An underlying theological topic in all these disputes is how the biblical concept of “covenant” is understood in the Jewish and Catholic traditions and in terms of their interrelationship. The resolution of these questions could set the pattern of official Catholic-Jewish relations for many years. In a public dialogue of these matters, Dr. Edward Kessler from Cambridge University in Great Britain and Institute director Dr. Philip A. Cunningham will present and discuss their own analyses of the present situation. Participants will be invited to join in the conversation.

Edward Kessler is a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily contemporary Judaism and Jewish-Christian as well as Jewish-Muslim Relations Relations. He is Founding Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths and Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. In this capacity he also serves at the executive director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations and the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Muslim Relations. He is a prolific author, having written or edited 9 books and 26 articles. He is co-editor of the monumental,  A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations. His most recent book is What do Jews Believe?

Catholic-Jewish Relations in Germany in 2008

December 9, 2008

Rev. Dr. Hanspeter Heinz

Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Mandeville Hall, Room 107

The year 2008 has been a difficult one for relations between German Catholics and Jews. The publication by the Vatican of an “extraordinary form” of a Good Friday prayer for Jews disrupted decades of Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Germany. Customary events were boycotted. Contradictory essays were published by German cardinals about the controversy. Prof. Heinz will describe these developments, the role played by the official discussion group “Jews and Catholics,” and look ahead to the future of interreligious relations in Germany.

Hanspeter Heinz, a Catholic priest, is Professor of Pastoral Theology emeritus at the University of Augsburg in Germany. He has served for many years is the chair of the discussion group, “Jews and Catholics,” organized by the Central Committee of German Catholics (Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken). He is also co-editor of a recent book on the work of the discussion group: Coming Together for the Sake of God: Contributions to Jewish-Christian Dialogue from Post-Holocaust Germany .

Religion, Politics, and Moral Decision Making

September 10, 2008

Dr. Thomas Massaro, S.J. and Rabbi Dr. Lance Sussman

Wednesday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m., in the Haub Conference Center in McShain Hall

Rev. Massaro

Rabbi Sussman

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 a discussion featuring 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.


Israel at 60: ‘Promised Land’ for Jews and Christians

March 5, 2008

Dr. Eugene Fisher and Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn


Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 7:30 p.m. in the Haub Conference Center in McShain Hall.

For many, the State of Israel stands at the center of how the Jewish people perceive themselves – both as individuals and as a collective group. Saint Joseph’s University’s Jewish-Catholic Institute will host an interfaith dialogue to explore Jewish identity with the Biblical promised land. The evening’s speakers are Rabbi Eugene Korn, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University, and Eugene J. Fisher, Ph.D., associate director emeritus of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations.

The idea for the programming came from the Israeli Consulate General’s Office in Philadelphia, who contacted Donald Clifford, S.J., director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute, to suggest cooperating in a program that would commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. “The issues raised by this interreligious dialogue take on special resonance this year, which is the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel,” said Fr. Clifford. “Both of our speakers possess a unique understanding of the common spiritual heritage between Christianity and Judaism. The discussion will focus on how the existence of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland can be viewed as a strengthening of Christian sacred history and the Jewish covenant on which the Christian faith rests.

Dr. Fisher


Dr. Fisher is considered the dean of Catholic scholars now active in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. In 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed him consultor to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. He has represented the Holy See at numerous international conferences over the last 30 years.


Eugene Korn

Rabbi Korn has written widely on Israel, Jewish thought and interfaith relations. Most recently, he is the author of The Jewish Connection to Israel, the Promised Land – A Brief Introduction for Christians. He was previously director of Interfaith Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.



Traveling Together Down an Unfamiliar Road: Catholic-Jewish Relations in the United States Today

October 14, 2007

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham

Dr. Cunningham is the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning at Boston College.

Ancient Manuscripts, Modern Discoveries, and the Quest for Religious Truth

March 5, 2007

Dr. Lawrence Schiffman

Dr. Schiffman is the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University.


How God is One: Recent Research on God in the Biblical World and Its Implications for Jewish-Christian Relations

October 13, 2006

Dr. Mark Smith

Dr. Smith is Professor of Hebrew Bible at New York University.

The Meaning of ‘Israel’ for Jews and Christians

March 20, 2006

Rev. Msgr. Joseph Devlin, J.c.d.

Msgr. Devlin is Professor of Theology at LaSalle University.

Forty Years after Nostra Aetate

March 12, 2005

Rabbi A. James Rudin

Rabbi Rudin is Senior Interreligious Advisor for the American Jewish Committee.