Pope Francis

Dialogika Resources

Letter to Rabbi Abraham Skorka on His Receiving an Honorary Doctorate

Pope Francis sent the following congratulatory letter, dated April 27, 2023, to his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Trnava, Slovakia on May 11, 2023. 

To Rabbi Abraham Skorka

I was pleased to learn that the University of Trnava in Slovakia is awarding you a doctorate Honoris Causa to mark your contribution to the advancement of Jewish-Christian and interreligious dialogue, and your promotion of tolerance in the fields of science and education. While I am unable to attend this solemn ceremony I person, I gladly take the opportunity to greet you with these words.

We have known each other for many years, and I have always been grateful for your commitment to dialogue, especially that between Jews and Christians. During your forty-two years of pedagogical and academic activity you have positively influenced two generations of rabbis, as well as Catholic and Protestant theologians, while fully respecting the scholarly aspects of theology.

In this regard, I too have experienced your gift of friendship and wisdom, for which I thank the Lord. In particular, I remember the moments we spent together in deeply enriching conversations, and recall your published thoughts on friendship in interreligious dialogue. My thoughts also turn to my memorable visit to Slovakia in 2021 and the meeting with the Jewish community in Rybné Square, Bratislava, where several Catholics were also present. Such meetings open the door to the development of fruitful mutual relations.

It is significant that this high academic honour is being bestowed upon you by the University of Trnava, which was founded in the seventeenth century by my fellow Jesuits, who still work there today albeit under totally different circumstances. Given that Trnava is a city with a painful history for the Jewish people, your presence there on this occasion is a welcome symbol of a new chapter of history, which our world so desperately needs.

Indeed, across the centuries faith has often been instrumentalized in order to achieve political or economic ends, which can only serve to diminish the appreciation of religious values. In your life-long efforts you have always sought to emphasize that authentically living out one’s own religious tradition and respecting human rights need not be contradictory. Moreover, you have rightly tried to demonstrate the people’s faith can and must stand up for human rights in all of life’s situations. It is my hope that the commitment to dialogue, justice and peaceful coexistence will increasingly characterize the relations between all men and women, whatever their religious beliefs.

In expressing these sentiments, dear brother, I assure you of my prayers that this joyful occasion will especially strengthen Jewish-Christian and interreligious dialogue, and I willingly invoke upon you an abundance of God’s blessings.

From the Vatican, 27 April 2023