CCJU Presents 'Progress and Difficulties in the Christian-Jewish Dialogue'

News Story: November 21, 2008

More than 40 delegates are expected for the seventh annual meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR). The Council is comprised of centers and institutes for Christian-Jewish studies and relations in the United States and Canada. The sessions will be hosted by the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding (CCJU) on Sunday and Monday, December 7-8, at Sacred Heart University.

The two-day conference will kick off with a public forum in University Commons on the main campus in Fairfield on Sunday at 2 P.M. The topic is Conversion and Proselytism in a Pluralistic Society: Progress and Difficulties in the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. Keynote addresses will be given by Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and Gershon Greenberg, of the American University in Washington, D.C. The session will be moderated by Dr. Ann Heekin, the director of programs and publications at Sacred Heart’s Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding.

At 4 o’clock, the assembly will hear from a respondent on behalf of the CCJR, John Pawlikowski, a professor of ethics at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The free public session is cosponsored by the Anti-Defamation League’s Laurel Vlock Campus Lecture Series. The Anti-Defamation League is the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. Through its programs and educational materials, the ADL builds bridges of communication and respect among diverse groups in the United States and abroad.

The members-only evening program will be hosted by Sacred Heart University President, Dr. Anthony Cernera. It will include the presentation of the CCJR Shevet Achim award to Dr. Eugene J. Fisher for his outstanding contributions to Christian-Jewish understanding. He is the retired associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. A panel discussion at 7 will focus on The View from Here: Recent Developments Concerning Conversion and Dialogue. Panelists are James Buchanan of Xavier University in Cincinnati; Hanspeter Heinz of the Central Committee of German Catholics; Christopher Leighton of the Institute for Jewish and Catholic Studies in Baltimore; and Michael Signer, of the University of Notre Dame.

Monday’s agenda includes a conversation on three critical issues of the past year: reciprocity, soteriology and evangelism. Presenters include Ruth Langer, Boston College; Philip A. Cunningham, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia; and Michael Cook, Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati.

“The Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding is honored to host the annual CCJR summit,” said Dr. Heekin. “The Council provides an invaluable vehicle for the exchange of information and cooperation among the more than 30 centers for Christian-Jewish relations across the country.” The CCJU was established in 1992 as a direct outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council’s teachings that encourage interreligious dialogue and understanding. The Center draws together clergy, laity, scholars and educators to focus on current religious thinking within Christianity and Judaism and provides forums for dialogue in order to advance greater knowledge, understanding and harmony between religions. The Center recently dedicated The Blau Collection: The Library for Christian-Jewish Understanding at the University’s Ryan-Matura Library. It is the first specialized collection of books and materials related to the subject of Christian-Jewish Studies and is intended to serve as a resource for promoting new scholarship in the field.