70th Anniversary: Save the Date

70th Anniversary: 1953-2023Each year the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies hosts the “Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture.” This year it will take place on November 12, 2023 and will commemorate the Institute’s 70th anniversary!

This will be a hybrid online and in-person event on Seton Hall University’s main campus in South Orange, NJ.

Our guest speaker will be Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, the successor to Father Edward Flannery in the US Bishops Office.

Please save the date and plan to join us for the special event and celebration!

Updated Online Archive

Our update of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies’ online archive or eRepository was completed this month. The eRepository is a publishing service for the preservation and dissemination of university scholarly work that is maintained by the Seton Hall University Libraries in partnership with the Seton Hall Law School.

We added the following six new series to our eRepository collection:

  • A Reflection of Laudato Si’: Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment – This is an audio recording of Cardinal Peter Turkson’s 2016 reflections on Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’,” which he helped to write. It includes Archbishop John Joseph Myers’ introduction, Cardinal Peter Turskson’s full address and the Q&A session that followed.
  • John M. Oesterreicher 2013 Conference – In honor of our 60th anniversary, the Institute hosted the Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher Conference at Seton Hall University on September 22, 2013. This video features the presentation of the keynote speaker, Professor John Connelly. He spoke about the life of Msgr. Oesterreicher and his role as a principal architect of “Nostra aetate, 4” during the Second Vatican Council and the impact Monsignor had on the Church’s view of Judaism.
  • John M. Oesterreicher Memorial Lectures – The Institute has hosted an annual lecture since 1993 in honor of the life and legacy of our founding director, Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher. This series contains the video and audio recordings of the presentations from 2014-2022.
  • Pope John XXIII & the Jews – On March 30, 2014 the Institute sponsored a lecture to commemorate the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. This audio recording features the presentation of speaker, Rabbi Dr. David G. Dalin, who discussed the many ways in which Pope John XXIII influenced Catholic-Jewish relations, both as the former Vatican diplomat in Turkey and Greece during World War II and later as the Vicar of Christ in Rome.
  • Radio Interviews with Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher – Taped in the 1990s, this series features some of my earliest interviews with Msgr. Oesterreicher on the Institute’s radio program, “The Kinship of Catholics & Jews,” which still broadcasts today on WSOU 89.5 FM every Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m.
  • The Life and Legacy of Msgr. Oesterreicher – Made to commemorate our 60th anniversary, this short video recounts the life and legacy of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies’ founding director, Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher.

Photographs, publications, videos and audio recordings have been added throughout these and the other five series in the collection. As you will note, these materials represent both current work, such as the video recording of the 2022 Msgr. Oesterreicher Lecture delivered by Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D., and historic work, such as audio recordings of my interviews with John Oesterreicher in the early 1990s about the Decalogue.

John and my reflections on the Ten Commandments, housed in the Radio Interviews with Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher series, have never been published. How apropos it is to do so now as I am in the season of life that he was when I interviewed him 30 years ago.

Thus far people from 129 countries have downloaded documents from our online archive more than 12 thousand times. I invite you to join them and explore the materials we have in our Institute’s eRepository. May you find hidden treasures there!

Happy is the one who finds wisdom,
the one who gains understanding!

Her profit is better than profit in silver,
and better than gold is her revenue;

She is more precious than corals,
and no treasure of yours can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand,
in her left are riches and honor;

Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace;

She is a tree of life to those who grasp her,
and those who hold her fast are happy.

(Proverbs 3:13-18)

Father Edward H. Flannery (1912-1998)

Father Edward H. Flannery

We in the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies are delighted that Father Edward H. Flannery has been inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame! This is a sign that his many decades as an educator with a special mission to promote understanding and harmony between Christians and Jews is appreciated!

Father Flannery joined Msgr. John Oesterreicher in the Institute at Seton Hall University in 1965 and remained on campus after becoming the officer in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference in 1967. When all of these offices were consolidated, he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1970.

We are fortunate that Father Flanner donated his papers to Walsh Library on the Seton Hall campus, where they are available for research.

You can read the report on this honor in the Rhode Island Catholic here.

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan

Ramadan prayer in the Mosque of El Aksa and the Omar mosque, about 300,000 gathered, 1996

Ramadan prayer in the Mosque of El Aksa and the Omar mosque, about 300,000 gathered, 1996. (Photo credit: Gideon Markowiz / Photographer: Israel Press and Photo Agency (I.P.P.A.) / Dan Hadani collection, National Library of Israel, Wikimedia Commons)

The Holy See’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue has offered a special message to Muslim communities throughout the world as they begin the month of daily fasting until after sunset:
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Advancing the Dignity, Rights and Equality of Women

March 8 is globally recognized as International Women’s Day, and the month of March is designated as National Women’s History Month in the United States. As such I would like to report and reflect on two recent events that celebrated the contributions of women, yet remind us that there is still much more we need to do to advance the dignity, rights and equality of women and girls.

Interreligious Contributions

The Dicastery of Interreligious Dialogue (DID) is the Holy See’s guide to the universal Church’s interaction with people of other religions. Founded to advance the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra aetate), it has produced important texts for interreligious understanding as well as hosting meetings in many parts of the world.

Two months ago in January, the Dicastery, in collaboration with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations and the Pontifical Urban University, hosted the three-day conference “Women Building a Culture of Encounter Interreligiously.” The purpose of this historic event was to support and strengthen the interreligious contributions of women:

“Working towards a culture of encounter requires wider acknowledgement and promotion of women’s inherent dignity and participation…

The promotion of women’s equal dignity and rights should also be reflected in interreligious dialogue and cooperation. Accordingly, we need to include more women at dialogue tables, where they are still outnumbered by men. Women have unique and indispensable gifts to bring to the building of this culture of encounter: among others, an inclination to listen to, understand, and care for the other, a persevering presence in the midst of difficulty, and maternal wisdom to make concrete and to nourish the desires and aspirations of our wounded humanity.” (DID website)

Women Building a Culture of Encounter Interreligiously

Thirty women from 23 countries and 12 different religious traditions (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Confucian, Taoist, Jain, Hindu, Shinto (Oomoto) and African Traditional Religion) convened together in Rome from January 25-27.

The expressed three-fold goal of the conference was:

  1. “To appreciate and encourage the role of women and women’s leadership in social, economic, religious and political life at local, national and international levels;”
  2. “To rediscover how our respective religious classics, saints/sages, religious arts and music can be shared to reawaken our spiritual energy, to heal us and the world;”
  3. “To learn from the stories of women in fostering interreligious dialogue and a culture of encounter.”

All 30 women presented and participated in panels and open discussions across seven sessions in three days. They shared their experiences and interreligious work (e.g., peacebuilding, healthcare, political activity) from within their own faith and cultural traditions and examined various issues (e.g., discrimination, inclusivity, female leadership) related to building a culture of encounter.

This first-time conference is intended to lead to future interreligious opportunities and platforms for women leaders under the auspices of the Dicastery of Interreligious Dialogue. As such, the women concluded the conference with a sustained dialogue on the panel, “Where do we go from here?”

You can watch videos of the conference proceedings on the Vatican News’ YouTube channel: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

In addition to dialoguing and networking with one another, the women also met with Pope Francis on January 26 in a private audience. His address appears below.

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Papal Message for Lent 2023

"The Saviour's Transfiguration," icon. Ab. 1403, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Author unknown (until recently it was believed that the icon was painted by Theophanes the Greek)

“The Saviour’s Transfiguration,” icon. Ab. 1403, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Author unknown (until recently it was believed that the icon was painted by Theophanes the Greek). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Each year the ancient Christian practice of a penitential season in preparation for Holy Week and Easter becomes an integral part of our spiritual journey. The forty-day period follows the pattern established by Moses, Elijah and Jesus, without the same rigor of their fast!

This year Pope Francis continues to draw attention to the synodal process of the universal Church in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 and 2024.The message focuses on the Synoptic Gospel account of the Transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John on a high mountain in Galilee. It provides much food for thought.

Franklin Henderson (1933 – 2023)

Franklin Henderson (1933 – 2023)With sadness I learned that a friend from the early years of my work in Edmonton Alberta, Franklin Henderson, has passed from this world. However, I imagine that both he and his wife Ruth are marveling to be part of the Heavenly Liturgy!

The Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta was enriched in many ways when the city grew greatly in population during the 1960s. The University of Alberta hired Dr. Joseph Franklin Henderson in 1963 in the Department of Biochemistry, where he worked with the Faculty of Medicine and published widely. His beloved wife Ruth was pleased to share that citations of Frank’s publications topped a thousand in many a year.

Frank’s approach to the challenges of scientific research was carried into the areas of interfaith relations and the history of the Latin Rite liturgy. In the year when full membership in the North American Academy of Liturgy was restricted to those who had advanced studies in the field, Frank was honored for his significant contribution to this Academy.

He and I participated in Jewish-Christian studies at the International Congress of Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, Michigan) and contributed the essay “Jews and Judaism in the Medieval Latin Liturgy” to the volume The Liturgy of the Medieval Church (Medieval Institute Publications, 2005). In the late 1970s we were participants in the consultation of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy regarding inclusive language in English liturgical texts.

May Frank rest in peace, rewarded for his many contributions to human understanding of the fields of medicine and Christian worship. May his soul rest in peace!

International Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking

On February 8, 2023 the Church observed the ninth International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on the feast of Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947), who was abducted and enslaved in South Sudan at the age of 9. Eventually she escaped the worst fate when, at the age of 15, she was purchased by an Italian family. She came to Italy and found freedom.

As a religious Sister of the Canossian Congregation, Josephine Bakhita gave witness to a life of Christian service. She was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II and is the patroness of those trapped in servitude. Imposed by her abductors, her name Bakhita means “Lucky One.” What some call “Luck” she recognized to be the gift of God which brings eternal blessing.

Below is the video message of Pope Francis for the Ninth International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on the theme Journeying in dignity, which you can also read in English here.

May those in need of the basic freedom to experience their personal dignity be helped by our prayer and action every day!

Pope Benedict XVI (1927 – 2022) R.I.P.

Pope Benedict XVI visiting the Belém Cultural Center in Lisbon. Photo credit: M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk.

Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Belém Cultural Center in Lisbon in 2010. Photo credit: M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk.

As we recall the life of Joseph Ratzinger, many will focus attention on his theological treatises and his three volumes on Jesus of Nazareth, published under his personal name during his reign as successor of St. Peter the Apostle.

We recall as well his love of music and his attention to Mozart’s works. In The Tablet of July 11, 2015, Christa Pongratz and James Roberts told of an honorary doctorate he received from the Pontifical University of John Paul II University in Krakow.  They remarked:

“It remains indelibly impressed in my memory how, for example, as soon as the first notes resounded from Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass’, the heavens practically opened and you experienced, very deeply, the Lord’s presence,” the 88-year-old Benedict said.

He recalled the “dramatic tension” after the Second Vatican Council between those who thought large choral works and orchestrated Masses no longer had a place in the liturgy and should only be performed in concert halls, and those who feared the cultural impoverishment this would lead to.

“There is great literature, great architecture, great art and great sculpture in the diverse cultures and religious fields. And there is music everywhere. But you will not find music of the magnitude of that which the Christian world brought forth – the music of Palestrina, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner – in any other cultural region,” Benedict said. “This music is unique…it must not disappear from the liturgy as its presence means partaking in the mystery of faith in a very special way.”

As we recall the theological insights of Pope Benedict XVI we might also consider the way in which music inspires a reflection on the hints of the divine order that are offered to those who listen for the sublime and bring this gift into our daily lives.