John Paul II Annual Lecture

The annual lecture features a world religious leader or renowned expert who embodies the ideals of interreligious understanding. The lecture is a major event at the Angelicum and attracts the Roman academic community as well as the international diplomatic community.

Featured Speaker: Cardinal Kurt Koch

Cardinal Kurt Koch was made Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, shortly after the Pope nominated him as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews.

The Cardinal was born in Switzerland in 1950, and growing up during the Second Vatican Council, has been interested in ecumenism since his youth. He studied Catholic theology in Lucerne and Munich and within his studies ecumenism became an inherent part of his theological training.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Basel, the largest Swiss diocese where he served as President of the Swiss Bishops Conference from 2007 to 2009. Cardinal Koch is author of 67 publications and as this year’s honored lecturer, he addressed the diplomatic, academic and interfaith communities about: “Nostra aetate: 50 Years of Christian–Jewish Dialogue.”

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Pope John Paul II Annual Lecture 2012 from IIE Europe on Vimeo.

Professor David Ford, Cambridge University

Jews, Christians and Muslims meet around their Scriptures: An Inter-faith Practice for the Twenty-first Century 2011

April 5, 2011: Professor David Ford holds one of the oldest and most esteemed professorships in the United Kingdom, Cambridge University’s Regius Professor of Divinity, founded in 1540 by King Henry VIII. A renown Anglican theologian, Professor Ford is Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme (CIP) and was instrumental in developing Scriptural Reasoning, a practice that uses scriptures — Christian Bible, Jewish Tanakh (Hebrew Bible and writings), Muslim Koran — as a path to in-depth and sometimes deeply personal dialogue between the Abrahamic faiths. This form of inter-faith engagement is gaining popularity outside the university setting and into the mainstream, and was among the topics explored during Prof. Ford’s Lecture.

Growing up in Dublin as part of a 3% Anglican minority, Professor Ford’s early years influenced his drive toward inter-faith work. His influence on interfaith matters extends beyond the US and Europe, most recently placing him in an advisory role on current mid-east issues. Dr. Ford’s writings are bestsellers in academia and have been translated into multiple languages including: Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Romanian, Kurdish, and Arabic (forthcoming).

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Professor Mona Siddiqui, Glasgow University

Islamic Perspectives on Judaism and Christianity 2010

May 5, 2010: Professor Mona Siddiqui, a unique female voice in Islamic scholarship, has dedicated much of her prominent career to interreligious work. Her candid voice on historical and contemporary Islamic theology has made her a sought-after speaker. Director of the Center for the Study of Islam at Glasgow University and frequent BBC guest commentator, she Addressed Islamic theological perspectives on Judaism and Christianity, and the problem Islam has confronted from its earliest days: that of Judaism and Christianity as both divine and corrupted revelations. As theological and political tensions are increasingly intertwined, Professor Siddiqui calls for a more robust Islamic theology of inclusion where compassion, not salvation, is the starting point.

Siddiqui’s influence extends well beyond academia. She is on the World Economic Forum Faith Council; Chairs the BBC’s Religious Advisory Committee and is guest commentator for the BBC in the UK and contributor to Radio Free Europe in Central Asia. In addition to her extensive academic work, she writes for UK press, including the Times, Scotsman, Guardian and The Herald, and is the first Muslim columnist for the Catholic weekly, The Tablet.

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Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland

A Rabbi’s Reflection on the Teachings of John Paul II 2009

March 2, 2009: New York-born Rabbi Michael Schudrich is Chief Rabbi of Poland, and credited with single-handedly re-discovering Poland’s lost Jewish community while reaching across the aisle to Poland’s mainstream population. He made headlines after he was victim of an anti-Semitic assault in Warsaw in 2006, one day before he was to meet Pope Benedict XVI at Auschwitz. But as important were the headlines to follow when he used the assault as an opportunity to commend the Polish government and people for their strong condemnation of his attacker.

His lecture emphasized leadership through dialogue: “Through inter-religious dialogue, we give people the opportunity to better understand each other and the natural outcome of that is less fear, leading to less hatred and bias, leading to the greater possibility of peace.”

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Unifying Threads among World Religions: The Common Ground in Search for World Peace 2008

April 4, 2008: As Archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Donald Wuerl gave the very first John Paul II Lecture on Interreligious Understanding at the Angelicum. He described “pluralism with common roots,” which seeks to identify threads of commonality and basic convictions and principles, in order to establish relationships that ultimately rest on more than temporary or immediate national interests. This common ground — the inherent value of the individual human person, and that person’s relationship to God that must be reflected in our societal structures — can provide unifying roots and the faith-based moral guidance society desperately needs. While science and technology can provide the ability to extend human accomplishment far beyond the dreams of even a generation ago, these tell us what we can do, not what we ought to do. Within the ethics of the monotheistic communities, faith and reason work harmoniously in developing the laws of human behavior.

Cardinal Wuerl earned his doctorate from the Angelicum and was made Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

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How to attend

If you wish to attend future events of the John Paul II Annual lecture series, please contact our coordinator:

Andrew James Boyd

John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue
Pontificia Università San Tommaso d’Aquino in Urbe

Tel: +39 06 670 2450
Fax: +39 06 670 2451