Representatives from Xavier blogging on Vatican experience

The travelers are reflecting on the conference, their surroundings in Rome and their meetings with Church officials | October 21, 2007

Representatives from Xavier are blogging about their experiences at the First Lay Conference on Catholic-Jewish relations at the Vatican, Oct. 21-25. The first post has just been written by Hillel at Xavier Director Rabbi Abie Ingber. To follow the blog, visit

Throughout the trip, the travelers are reflecting on the conference, their surroundings in Rome and their meetings with Church officials, the late Pope John Paul II's friend Jerzy Kluger and their audience with Pope Benedict.

Representatives are University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., Rabbi Abie Ingber, director for Hillel at Xavier, 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.

The conference is sponsored by the Interreligious Information Center (IIC) of which Ingber is vice president. Through research, academic exchanges, educational programs and media outreach, IIC develops projects and activities to enhance greater understanding of faiths and religion in our society. IIC works with 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 Father 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.