New Program in Jewish-Catholic Studies

Recently the Cardinal Bea Centre of the Gregorian University (Rome) has announced that a two-year interdisciplinary graduate program will lead to a Licentiate in Judaic Studies and Jewish-Christian Relations. A licentiate is the ecclesiastical degree equivalent to a Master’s degree in other settings.

In a webinar on April 21, 2021, Father Etienne Veto, the Director of the Bea Centre, presented the program. Sixty to seventy percent of the courses will be in Judaic Studies on a range of topics, including art and literature, leading to a deep understanding of Judaism. The second facet of the program will be Catholic-Jewish relations, leading to a Christian self-perception in the light of Judaism. Following the Second Vatican Council, Catholics will understand that the Jewish people have not been replaced by the Church. Rather, the Church “draws nourishment from the good olive tree onto which the wild olive branch of the Gentiles have been grafted (see Romans 11:17-24)” (Declaration Nostra aetate no. 4)

Graduates of this program will be equipped to pursue interfaith collaboration and peace-building through research and teaching.

The guest speaker in the webinar was Father Norbert Hofmann, of the Salesians and the long-time Secretary of the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews. He drew attention to the words of Pope Francis in an audience with members of the American Jewish Committee. The Pope presented three goals for Catholic-Jewish encounters:

  1. Collaboration in works of charity on behalf of the poor and suffering.
  2. Building on the heritage of the Second Vatican Council for mutual esteem and friendship.
  3. Deepening the Christian theology of Judaism on the basis of the statement for the fiftieth anniversary of the Vatican II Declaration in 2015, “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

Father Hofmann drew attention to the need for involvement of young people in Catholic-Jewish relations. The Commission has promoted this through biennial international “Emerging Leadership Conference,” which brings fifty young people together for several days of study.

Seton Hall University’s M.A. Program in Jewish-Christian Studies welcomes this new development of the Gregorian University’s Cardinal Bea Centre!  As our program enters its 45th year we look forward to opportunities for collaboration!

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