Catholic and Jewish delegations meet Pope
CCJU hosts study tour to Poland and Italy
Issue date: 9/20/07
Sacred Heart's Center for Catholic-Jewish Understanding (CCJU), continues to work at strengthening the knowledge and acceptance between different religions.
This month, President Anthony J. Cernera and Rabbi Eugene Korn, Associate Executive Director for the Center for Catholic-Jewish Understanding, accompanied five American bishops and two rabbis to the holy Italian city and later, to Krakow, Poland.
"I hope students at Sacred Heart realize how much good work and progress the CCJU is making. I will say that no other catholic university is playing such a large role in working to unite the two religious groups," Cernera said ...
Participants attended an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and visited Poland for a tour of the former Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz.
According to Rabbi Korn, the point of the trip was to give Pope Benedict the CCJU "Nostra Aetate" Award for 2007.
However, Dr. Cernera explained, out of respect for the Pope's hard work, he will be the only Nostra Aetate recipient this year.
"We discussed with the bishops and the Vatican specific plans for diocese education in Catholic teaching about Jews and Judaism. We also went with the bishops to Krakow, Poland, the location of Auschwitz and discussed the Holocaust," said Korn.
Cernera believes that this experience is important as a whole.
"Fifty years ago, the thought of Jews and Catholics working together was unheard of. It's really is remarkable," said Cernera.
According to Korn, Nostra Aetate, an award given to one Christian and one Jewish person every year, was a main component of reasoning behind the trip.
The two chosen candidates are decided upon because they have shown superior work towards advancing Christian-Jewish understanding.
"The CCJU chose the Pope this year because of his singular stature. His visit to a synagogue in Cologne and his visit to Auschwitz early in his papacy signaled to the world that he considers Catholic-Jewish relations to be a high priority at the Vatican and for him personally," said Korn ...
"The study tour to Auschwitz and Rome is a tremendous step forward in deepening this relationship," said Guillaine Dale, office manager and Executive Secretary for the Center for Catholic-Jewish Understanding ...
After explaining to the Pope that the rabbis and bishops had been to Auschwitz the day prior to meeting him, the Pope was keenly interested, Korn said of his conversation with the Pope.
"The most important part of the trip was standing in the gas chambers and then discussing with the bishops the history and need for all of us to work together so that that kind of evil never again happens," said Korn.
For Cernera, this trip marked his fifth visit to the death camp ...
Students like Lisa Cavalli, senior, West Babylon, N.Y. were unaware of what the trip entailed.
"I knew they went to the Vatican but I had no idea they visited Auschwitz. That sounds like such an interesting and educational opportunity," said Cavalli.
Some Sacred Heart students expressed an interest in possibly attending a trip like this in the future.
"I think just knowing about the horrific events that took place in Poland during the Holocaust and being there would be such a dramatic and emotional experience. I'd be very interested seeing that," said Lando Cox, junior, Richmond, Ind.
In the future it is possible that CCJU would have an opportunity for students to visit Poland and Rome and possibly Jerusalem as well.
"A trip to Rome is a definite possibility if student interest is high. There are very preliminary plans to bring students to Poland, but it's in the early stages," said Cernera.
It is a matter of finding a way to fund a trip to Rome.
"It would be enormously educational and open up new horizons. Perhaps the students, the administration and CCJU should begin talking about how we can make this happen," said Korn.
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