Introduction to the conference by Rev. Dr Pavol Bargar (ICCJ Second Vice-President and Co-Chair of the conference planning committee):
Towards Reconciliation in a Broken World:
Jewish and Christian Contributions to Responsible Citizenship
In 2018, we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War. This tragic conflict delivered the first major blow to post-Enlightenment optimism and to unquestioned faith in the power of human reason and permanent progress. Furthermore, it significantly redrew the geopolitical map of the world, a fact whose manifold implications we have not completely come to terms with even today.
Central Europe is admittedly one of the regions most influenced by the aftermath of the First World War. In a territory with a multitude of national, cultural, and religious heritages, 1918 brought a great opportunity for some nations in this region to pursue their political independence for the first time in history. Others, however, were left with a bitter sense of loss and victimhood. The differences of the past, at times only barely tolerable, have often turned into gaps and wounds.
The events that followed, including a brief period of democracy, the rise of nationalist and fascist regimes, the Second World War, the Shoah, communist governments, and the shift to democracy and free-trade capitalism have given rise to new discrepancies and caused even deeper wounds. On the other hand, it has awakened an increased awareness of the need and yearning for reconciliation among various groups and communities.
Today, both in Central Europe and beyond, increasing numbers of people from diverse backgrounds explore how these wounds can be mended and divisions overcome. In a world characterized by frictions and fractures, they seek to fathom what it takes to be full-fledged members of communities and responsible citizens.
The 2018 annual conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), to be held in Budapest and Kecskemét, Hungary, seeks to explore the Jewish and Christian contributions to this process in wider perspectives.
In particular, the conference will address the following questions, among others:
- How is reconciliation, as a major concept in both Judaism and Christianity, linked to justice?
- What implications does the idea of reconciliation have for interfaith relations?
- How can the “victim-mentality” be left behind to pursue a path of responsible citizenship?
- How does one find God in one’s enemy?
- What can we as people of faith do to work towards mutual understanding, reconciliation, and peace in our specific contexts, often tainted by national, religious, ethnic, and social conflicts? How do we work together with people of other faiths or of no faith?