About the John Paul II Center

Background and Purpose

The John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue, a partnership between The Russell Berrie Foundation and the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), builds bridges between Christian, Jewish and other religious traditions by providing the next generation of religious leaders with a comprehensive understanding of and dedication to interfaith issues and action.

The Center, located at the Angelicum in Rome, Italy, sponsors unique programs and initiatives to achieve this goal, including: fellowships for students to pursue interreligious studies, a diploma program in interreligious studies, a study tour to Israel, top-level visiting faculty teaching interreligious dialogue courses, and public lectures and conferences on Interreligious Understanding.

Pope John Paul II Legacy

The most famous alumnus of the Angelicum is Pope John Paul II, who as Karol Wojtyla earned a doctorate of philosophy there in the late 1940s. Pope John Paul II was a tireless proponent of the need for interfaith dialogue throughout his entire life, even before he became Pope. As a child, Karol Wojtyla forged close relationships with Jewish families in his Polish hometown, which led to building significant bridges with the Jewish community during his Papacy. Interfaith outreach was one of his major mandates as Pope. He traveled to many countries, meeting the leaders of various religious communities, and extended his respect for them, preaching religious tolerance and open dialogue. He was the first prominent religious figure to convene world religious leaders to Assisi, Italy to come together and pray for peace.

To honor his legacy and all of the positive and courageous advancements he made to promote interreligious dialogue and peace in the world, the Center is humbly and respectfully named after him.