Pope Francis and Interreligious Dialogue: Religious Thinkers Engage with Recent Papal Initiatives (Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue)


This book engages thinkers from different religious and humanist traditions in response to Pope Francis’s pronouncements on interreligious dialogue. The contributors write from the perspectives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Humanism. Each author elaborates on how the pope’s openness to dialogue and invitation to practical collaboration on global concerns represents a significant achievement as the world faces an uncertain future. The theological tension within the Catholic double commitment to evangelization on the one hand, and dialogue on the other, remains unresolved for most writers, but this does not prevent them from praising the strong invitation to dialogue–especially with the focus on justice, peace, and ecological sustainability.


Abraham Joshua Heschel was the towering religious figure of American Jewry in the twentieth century. In Interfaith Activism, Harold Kasimow, who is known for his work on Heschel and on interfaith dialogue between Jews and members of other faiths, presents a selection of his essays on Heschel's thought. Topics include Heschel's perspective on the different religious traditions, Heschel's three pathways to God, his deep friendship with Maurice Friedman and Martin Luther King Jr., and his surprising affinity to the great Hindu Vedantist Swami Vivekananda and to Pope Francis. A new essay examines Heschel's struggle with the Holocaust. Since the late 1950s, when Kasimow was Heschel's student, he has wrestled with Heschel's claim that "in this eon, diversity of religions is the will of God" and Heschel's belief that there must be dialogue "between the river Jordan and the River Ganges."

"In this original book of essays, Harold Kasimow provides an intimate portrait of Abraham Joshua Heschel's prophetic commitment to interreligious dialogue, nonviolence, social justice, and the power of faith to transform the heart. . . . A truly important book, not to be missed."
--Beverly Lanzetta, Theologian, Spiritual Teacher

"Kasimow is one of the most creative and inspiring disciples of Heschel. . . . He is at home not only in his own Jewish tradition but also with the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim traditions--quite an unusual phenomenon in our polarized and conflicted world."
--Stanislaw Obirek, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw

"Anyone who is interested in the powerful voice of Heschel will be interested in Kasimow's book. Interfaith Activism . . . collects his published essays about Heschel over the last dozen years. Who could resist reading Kasimow's arrangement of Heschel's core ideas that focus on religious diversity as the will of God and on social activism as our way of implementing that will?"
--Kenneth P. Kramer, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, San Jose State University

"Kasimow, with his ideal and intimate acquaintance with the whole of Heschel's thought, does not hesitate to touch upon difficult and disputed questions, such as Heschel's struggle with God's role during the Holocaust. He also highlights Heschel's unique contribution to the Catholic-Jewish dialogues that led to the Second Vatican Council's revolutionary document Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions."
--Shoshona Ronen, Chair of Hebrew Studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Warsaw University

Harold Kasimow is the George A. Drake Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Grinnell College. He has written and edited several books, including The Search Will Make You Free: A Jewish Dialogue with World Religions and No Religion Is an Island: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Interreligious Dialogue (with Byron Sherwin). He also edited special issues of Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies on Heschel and on Judaism and Asian religions.

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