Saint Joseph's University Interfaith Expert Elected President of International Council of Christians and Jews

Released: 26-Aug-2014 10:25 AM EDT
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Newswise — The International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) announced that Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations (IJCR) of Saint Joseph’s University was elected its president effective immediately. Cunningham served two terms as the organization’s second vice president, and will serve as the ICCJ president for three years.

“For more than six decades, the ICCJ has been at the forefront of encouraging interreligious understanding in many countries around the world,” says Cunningham, who is a professor of theology at Saint Joseph's. “It has also been an important contributor to emerging theologies of the Christian relationship to Judaism and the Jewish relationship to Christianity. It is an honor for me to be elected as president of this pioneering and prestigious organization and to represent Saint Joseph's University in this international forum.”

Cunningham is recognized internationally as an expert in Jewish-Christian relations and interreligious dialogue. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on the topic. Most recently, he co-edited the acclaimed research project and book, Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships.

“I’m very pleased that Dr. Cunningham was elected,” says the outgoing president of the ICCJ, Deborah Weissman, Ph.D. “Phil brings much experience, theological depth and interpersonal wisdom to the position. A master craftsman of the English language and a master teacher, he is also an all-around wonderful human being, with whom I’ve worked closely for six years. The ICCJ is in very good hands.”

Originating from a 1947 conference in reaction to the Holocaust, the ICCJ is an umbrella organization of 38 Jewish-Christian dialogue organizations engaged in the renewal of Jewish-Christian relations. Headquartered in Heppenheim, Germany, in the home of the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, the ICCJ has national member organizations in more than 30 countries on five continents. It is the oldest and most influential multinational organization devoted to Christian-Jewish relations. In more recent years, the ICCJ and its members increasingly engage in the Abrahamic dialogue: the encounter between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University was founded in 1967, the first such endeavor at an American Catholic university in response to the Second Vatican Council. Cunningham assumed its directorship in 2008, and was joined in 2013 by Assistant Director Adam Gregerman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of religious studies. As a distinctive reflection of Saint Joseph’s Jesuit identity, the activities of the Institute have expanded over the decades and it is now known internationally as a center for sustained collaborative research and dialogue by Catholics and Jews, as well as for innovative community programming.


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