Report on the Second Annual Meeting

Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Report on the Second Annual Meeting

Stonehill College, Easton, Massachusetts, October 26-27, 2003

Sunday, October 26
The practice of the annual meeting being hosted by a member center or institute began at this meeting. The Board expresses its thanks to Prof. Kevin Spicer, CSC and the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Committee of Stonehill College for its efficient organization and sponsorship of the second annual meeting. As the CCJR Board had voted at its February 2003 meeting, a public event in connection with the annual meeting was arranged by the CCJR as a way of thanking the host institution. This year this occurred on Sunday evening as a public panel discussion.

Public Panel Discussion
The topic of the panel was "If Jews are Saved by Their Eternal Covenant, How are Christians to Understand Jesus as Universal Savior?" This subject was based upon point #6 of A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People, issued one year ago by the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. The principal speakers were Peter Phan from Georgetown University and R. Kendall Soulen from Wesley Theological Seminary. A response to their remarks was offered by David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee. The texts of their remarks are available:

  • "If Jews are Saved by Their Eternal Covenant, How are Christians to Understand Jesus as Universal Savior? - A Roman Catholic Perspective" by Peter Phan
  • "Israel's Eternal Covenant and the Universality of Christ" by R. Kendall Soulen
  • "Response to Profs. Phan and Soulen" by David Rosen

Monday, October 27

The CCJR was pleased to welcome to Rev. Norbert Hofmann, secretary for the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews as a special guest to the annual meeting. New delegates from member organizations were also welcomed: James Barrens, new director of regular member the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at St. Leo University, St. Leo Florida, and David Elcott, liaison representative for the American Jewish Committee, New York City.

(l to r:) Gemma Del Duca, Michael Signer, Racelle Weiman, Lois Sculco

A discussion of the previous evening's panel began the morning session. Our thanks to Kendall Soulen for joining in the conversation.

Next occurred the annual "How It Looks From Here" panel presentation that highlights the work of selected member centers. This year's panel was devoted to centers that focus on the holocaust. Lois Sculco chaired the panel, which consisted of:

Gemma Del Duca, the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA.
Michael Signer, the Notre Dame Holocaust Project, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN.
Racelle Weiman, the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, OH.

The panel was followed by a brief presentation by Philip Cunningham of Boston College on the ongoing controversy surrounding the forthcoming Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of Christ. In the ensuing discussion, a number of centers stated that it would be helpful to them locally if a joint statement on the matter would be prepared on behalf of the CCJR. Members could then refer questioners to this statement. A subcommittee composed of James Barrens, Ruth Langer, and Racelle Weiman was appointed to draft this statement, which would be approved by the Board and then circulated to all the regular members for their endorsement.

[Addendum: since the meeting the sub-committee has submitted a draft submitted to the Board that was then circulated to all regular members, who approved it unanimously. It may be found here: Statement on the Controversies Surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ and in printable .pdf format. ]

Business Meeting

After lunch, the chair, Peter Pettit, convened the business meeting. The following actions were taken:

The Secretary-Treasurer's financial report for 2002-2003 and proposed budget for 2003-2004 were approved. The latter item includes the annual CCJR dues to the International Conference of Christians and Jews (ICCJ). Copies are available to members upon request.

A new regular member was approved for membership. This is The Brother John G. Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. We welcome Dr. Elena G. Procario-Foley to the CCJR!

A new associate member was approved for membership, the Interfaith Encounter Association in Jerusalem, Israel. We welcome Yehuda Stolov to the CCJR!

The chair reported on a more streamlined process for new member applications. Regularized forms are being prepared.

The chair further reported that a brochure describing the work of the CCJR and the field of Christian-Jewish relations is also in preparation.

The Third Annual CCJR meeting will occur on October 24-25, 2004 and will be hosted by the Hayyim Kieval Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies at Siena College in Loudonville, New York (on the outskirts of Albany). Further details will be announced.