University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., led a delegation of six University representatives to Rome in October to participate in the inaugural lay conference on Catholic-Jewish relations and, among their many activities, meet Pope Benedict XVI.
Joining Graham were Rabbi Abie Ingber, director for Hillel at Xavier; James Buchanan, director for the Edward B. Brueggeman center for dialogue; Art Shriberg, professor of management and entrepreneurship; Jewish student Michael Loban; and Catholic student Maggie Meyer.
During their meeting with the pope, they presented him with a menorah, 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 also met 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 visited the Great Synagogue of Rome.
The goal of the conference, Ingber says, was to move bridge-building beyond the clergy and “into the pews.” The discussions revolved around identifying areas of “commonality and divide” between the traditions. Lay leaders from 18 U.S. cities attended and laid the groundwork for a network to share ideas and programming.
The group posted blogs and photos from their journey, which can be viewed at http://xavieruniverse.blogspot.com.