Pontifical University Launches New Degree to Improve Jewish-Christian Relations

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Currents News Staff

Judaism and Christianity share a deeply intertwined history that extends to the present day. To recognize the special link that exists between these faiths, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome has developed a special degree in Judaic Studies and Jewish-Christian relations.

Fr. Etienne Vetö is the director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies at the Gregorian University.

“This is the first time in the history of the Church that there is a canonical diploma, which means a diploma recognized by the Holy See, in Jewish studies and Jewish-Christian relations,” he said.

As a professor of theology, he expresses the need for Christians today to better understand the origins of their faith.

“In the Catholic Church we often say that Judaism are our roots, but when we say roots our ideas is that roots are in the past. The roots of our tree are not in the past. The roots of a tree are now, it’s what’s giving the sap to the tree right now. And so, the question is for Christians: ‘how do we gather this sap right now?’”, he added.

The two-year program brings students from around the world to Rome in an exchange of ideas, interests, and academic expertise.

For Jewish and Christian students alike, the result is a mutual understanding of cultures that strengthens the bonds of faith.

“Such projects really help to make people more ready for dialogue and to talk more openly, more cordially with our Christian friends,” said student Ori Kinberg.

During the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Bea was a key figure in drafting one of the council’s final documents promoting Jewish-Christian relations.

In 1986, John Paul II was the first pope to visit a synagogue. Benedict XVI and Pope Francis continued their efforts through initiatives such as these, opening the door for everyday believers to usher in a new era in Jewish-Christian relations.