New head of Judaic studies centre

September 8, 2009 in General, News

rabbi_01Tom Casey SJ, who teaches philosophy in the Gregorian University in Rome, has just been appointed director of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies. Readers will remember that Tom spent much of last winter at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and gave the important 9th Annual Brenninkmeijer-Werhahn Lecture there last February. He has sent a letter (see below) to prominent figures in Christian-Jewish dialogue this week (including the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Dr. Riccardo di Segni, pictured here speaking at the Cardinal Bea Centre). The letter has already elicited a lot of promising reactions. As well as thanking his predecessor, he outlines the goal for the future and ways to achieve it.


Tom Casey SJ

The six years of Professor Joseph Sievers’ directorship of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies were a period of extraordinary growth in both the academic realm and in the area of dialogue. In Judaic Studies, we hosted professors of great renown from top universities; in Jewish-Christian relations, we expanded our friendship and co-operation with leading Jewish institutions and groups. We owe a huge debt to Professor Sievers: as a result of his commitment and energy, the stature and structure of the Cardinal Bea Centre are now firmly established and highly respected.

This week, as I assume the role of Director of the Cardinal Bea Centre, I am humbled by the trust placed in me by the Pontifical Gregorian University. With God’s help, I intend to maintain the high standards of Professor Sievers, continue his initiatives, and, as resources permit, develop new ones.

In the official letter from the Holy See of November 14, 2002, signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Cardinal Bea Centre received the clear mandate to become “the Catholic Church’s premier program in Jewish Studies”. To achieve this goal, we will emphasize basic knowledge of Judaism in its own right, as well as in relation to Christianity. In addition to continuing our emphasis on foundational Jewish texts, in the future we will also explore the richness of Jewish culture as well as what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century. In the crucial field of Jewish-Christian relations, we will solidify the relationships already established, and seek new possibilities, through continuing theological dialogue and engaging in joint projects and practical initiatives.

As the Jewish holy days approach, we extend to our Jewish brothers and sisters heartfelt wishes for a blessed season and a good year – “l’shana tova”.

Thomas G. Casey, S.J.