Religion and the American Experience

The year 1965 marked a sea change in the Roman Catholic Church’s relationship with the world’s other religions, especially Judaism and Islam. Through the promulgation of the document Nostra Aetate (“In Our Time”), the Church sought to reach out to “acknowledge, preserve, and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, together with their social life and culture.”

Over the years, Jews and Catholics have acknowledged that they need to engage in dialogue, to sit and discover one another’s commonalities as well as learn about the differences that had created so much suffering and mutual recrimination. The search for a new relationship between Jews and Roman Catholics resulted in the creation of institutions seeking dialogue and understanding.

That was why in 1997, a group of like-minded clergy, academics, and lay people founded the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies (CCJS), a dynamic partnership between Saint Leo University and the American Jewish Committee, the nation’s oldest human rights organization. For nearly a decade and a half, the CCJS has played a key role in Catholic-Jewish relations, the only center of its kind in the American Southeast.