The other members of the Xavier group include: James Buchanan, director for Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue; Art Shriberg, professor of management and entrepreneurship; Jewish student Michael Loban; and Catholic student Maggie Meyer.
The conference’s goal, Ingber says, is to move bridge-building beyond the clergy and “into the pews.” The discussion will revolve around identifying areas of “commonality and divide” between the traditions. Lay leaders from 18 U.S. cities will attend, hopefully laying the groundwork for a network to share ideas and programming. Participants will also meet with high-ranking church officials at the Vatican to create a greater understanding of issues between the two faiths.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us at Xavier, especially our students,” says Graham. “Exploring and discussing the many aspects of our two traditions at such a grassroots level is so important for our future as people of faith.”
The conference is sponsored by the Interreligious Information Center (IIC) of which Ingber is vice president. Through research, academic exchanges, educational programs, media outreach, IIC develops projects and activities to enhance greater understanding of faiths and religion in our society. IIC works will all major faith groups.
Beyond the dialogue, the group will present a menorah to Pope Benedict. The menorah is a replica of one Ingber helped install at the Vatican in observance of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in 1999. Replicas have also been presented to the late Pope John Paul II and Graham. The group will also meet with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Jerzy Kluger, Pope John Paul II’s closest Jewish friend. They also plan to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome.
“Our hope is we can come back to the U.S. and continue these relationships and perhaps even expand it to include lay leaders from the Muslim community,” Ingber says. “If you get good at bridge building, there are lots of rivers to cross.”