Rabbi Abraham Skorka receives an honorary degree from the Trnava University
A year and a half after Pope Francis, his close friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka visited Slovakia. On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, the University of Trnava awarded this world-renowned expert an honorary degree for his contribution to the development of Jewish-Christian and interreligious dialogue and tolerance in the fields of science and education.
The University of Trnava is the bearer of Jewish-Christian dialogue in Slovakia; since 2016 it has offered the educational program Opening the Door. By awarding an honorary degree to Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the university continues its numerous theological, cultural, and social activities in Jewish-Christian relations.
"Professor Skorka reminded us that dialogue means putting yourself in the other person's place. Dialogue leads us to empathy. If we could understand others, there wouldn't be so many bad things like wars, violence, or other manifestations of extremism," explains the vice-rector of the University of Trnava, professor Miloš Lichner, SJ. The awarding of "doctor honoris causa" to Abraham Skorka intends to draw attention to the greater role of dialogue in Slovak society.
Abraham Skorka: In Search of God
During the awarding of the honorary doctorate, Abraham Skorka gave a commencement speech "In Search of God". According to a Georgetown University professor, excluding God or denying any higher power brings chaos into life. „The lack of deep religiosity leads to an existential void that can lead people to horrible behaviors. The pursuit of meaningless grandiosity—such as the lust to conquer other countries, to possess immense wealth, or to achieve fame—becomes fanatical. It makes those so obsessed temporarily feel like idols. This self-deception fills our world with fire and destruction.“
According to Skorka, God must be sought day by day. "... something of the heavenly is found in every human being. The challenge of our lives, as we each learn who we are, is to discover the brilliance of that spark of God with which we have been created."
In conclusion of his speech, he said: "On the one hand we can see a great development in science and technology. On the other hand we perceive generations that have been banishing God, and with God the virtues of justice, mercy, and goodness, which are what the Creator most desires from humanity."
"It is up to each one of us (...) to try to perceive his intentions, and turn to him just as Abraham did four millennia ago. Abraham’s legacy continues to challenge all of us in the present and will do so forevermore."
Who is Abraham Skorka?
Rabbi Abraham Skorka currently works as a senior fellow researcher for Jewish studies and Jewish-Catholic relations at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., one of the most prestigious universities in the USA. He has many years of experience in Latin America, where he also dealt with Jewish law and was the director of a rabbinical school. From 1996-2008 and 2010-2017, he served as a rector and a professor of Jewish and rabbinical law at the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary. His book interview with Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, the late Pope Francis, was published in Slovak under the name O nebi a zemi (On Heaven and Earth).