University Audiences Embraces the Man Known as "the Pope's Rabbi"

November 11, 2016

People from multiple generations and different religious traditions gathered at University Campus earlier in November to hear from a dear friend of Pope Francis regarding how he and the future pope began bridging a gulf between their respective faiths to begin interreligious dialogues, both in private and in public. The visit by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was arranged and sponsored by the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University.

Skorka -at -SLU

Rabbi Skorka is now internationally known. But that was not the case when he met the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the late 1990s. At that time, Rabbi Skorka recalled during one of his talks, the cardinal by custom held a much higher position in Buenos Aires society than the rabbi. But the cardinal made a point of greeting the rabbi as an equal. Friendship based on deep and genuine dialogue followed. They appeared together on an Argentinian television talk show series (whose content was later released as a book), discussing both religious and societal issues. They sometimes also worked on projects together, such as a Bible exposition, Rabbi Skorka recalled. The public activities and publications were meant to demonstrate to their fellow Argentinians how to engage one another in spite of societal divides.

The men’s friendship has continued since the former cardinal became Pope Francis in 2013. In their separate spheres, and sometimes in appearances together, the two leaders continue to emphasize the importance of interfaith dialogue.

Rabbi Skorka said during one of his talks at Saint Leo that serious, ongoing dialogue can help prevent violence within a society, or between societies and nations. The first step in establishing dialogue that has depth and meaning, Rabbi Skorka said, is “to behave with humility….You must speak with the other on the same level.” Dialogue is not productive if it is not grounded in sincerity, he added. “The capability of dialogue is a gift that God gave us. If we don’t make use of this very important capability, we are not fulfilling our human mission of service to the Earth,” he said. 

The Lutz/Laker News also covered part of Rabbi Skorka’s visit at Saint Leo. You can read the coverage here.

More information and videos from the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies is available at this section of the university website: /academics/schools/school-of-arts-sciences/center-for-catholic-jewish-studies.aspx