“Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples.”
--Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
Jewish and Catholic Dialogue
The Providence College Lecture and Colloquium Series, Theological Exchange Between Catholics and Jews, provides an opportunity for Jews and Christians to learn about and from one another. In the spirit of Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions [Nostra Aetate], the series promotes interreligious understanding and dialogue. It provides a forum where the PC community — together with local religious leaders and nationally recognized experts — can discuss themes of mutual theological interest in the Jewish and Catholic traditions.
Recognizing the unique relationship between Judaism and Christianity, Blessed Pope John Paul II referred to the Jews as the “elder brothers” of Christians. In doing so, he redefined the relationship between Jews and Christians as one of “siblings,” rather than enemies. He challenged Jews and Christians to walk together on a new path through study, dialogue, and friendship. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have boldly continued on this path.
History of Dialogue
Inaugurated in 2009, Theological Exchange Between Catholics and Jews continues a tradition of dialogue that has been part of PC’s history. By charter, PC was the first college or university in Rhode Island to welcome students of every faith or of no faith, and from its earliest days, it has been a place where Christians and Jews have studied and learned together.
At critical times in the 20th century, the College played a pioneering role in Jewish-Catholic relations. In May of 1932, The Rhode Island Seminar on Human Relationships was held at PC. It was hailed by Rabbi Isaac Landman as the “first time in history that Protestants, Catholics, and Jews have met under communal auspices in a Catholic College, at the invitation of a bishop of the Church, for a friendly discussion of those divisive elements that destroy proper human relations.”
In November 1963, A Conference on Catholic-Jewish Understanding, co-sponsored by Providence College and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, drew leading Catholic and Jewish leaders to Providence. The event was described as the first conference of its kind in Rhode Island. A similar event, the Catholic-Jewish Conference, followed in November 1965 — just weeks after the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, which boldly set a new course for fruitful dialogue between Catholics and Jews.
The series sponsors three events each academic year:
In the Fall semester, a local scholar or expert is invited to lecture on a theme relevant to Jewish-Catholic relations.
In the Spring semester, two experts — one Jewish and one Catholic — are invited to participate in a public, dialogue-style lecture in which they discuss a particular issue that is relevant to Christians and Jewish relations.
Also in the Spring semester, a colloquium is organized for PC faculty, students, alumni, and other guests — at which they can confront more deeply the issues articulated in the lecture and their impact upon their own teaching, research, and learning.