Chicagoan Participates in Jewish Leaders’ First Audience with Pope Francis

AJC Chicago leader David Inlander, left presents Pope Francis with a gift of a framed photo of the 1963 meeting of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Augustine Cardinal Bea.


An AJC senior leadership delegation including Chicago Jewish leader David Inlander, participated Monday in Pope Francis’ first audience with representatives of the international Jewish community at the Vatican. The four AJC representatives were part of an International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) delegation. AJC is a founding member of IJCIC, the Vatican’s dialogue partner with world Jewry.


“We are heartened that Pope Francis shared with us his unequivocal support for the strengthening of Catholic-Jewish relations and his forceful declaration against anti-Semitism,” said David Inlander, a Chicagoan who Chairs AJC’s Interreligious Affairs Commission. AJC’s presence at this audience was significant as AJC is a founder of IJCIC and is the oldest American Jewish organization that pioneered the transformation in Catholic-Jewish relations.


Inlander presented two AJC gifts to Pope Francis. One is a framed photo of the historic March 31, 1963 meeting of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Augustine Cardinal Bea at AJC headquarters in New York. At AJC’s initiative, the rabbi and the cardinal had met to discuss preparations for a declaration from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on the Relationship of the Catholic Church with the Jewish People. The other gift is a copy of Wide Horizons: Abraham Joshua Heschel, AJC, and the Spirit of Nostra Aetate, authored by AJC’s Gary Spruch.