Spolecnost Krestanu a Zidu (SKZ)

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Dr Pavol Bargar


Czech Republic

ICCJ Second Vice-President

Describe how you became involved in interreligious dialogue and in the ICCJ:

I have always been interested not only in Christianity as my own faith but also in other religions. This interest of mine had continuously been developed in the course of my university studies in Bratislava, Prague, and Cambridge. I was very fortunate to be part of study programs which inspired me not only academically but also encouraged me to actively participate in practical interfaith dialogue and cooperation. My way into the ICCJ family started when I as then chair of the Czech CCJ invited the then ICCJ President Debbie Weissman to come and give a talk in Prague.

Tell us something about your first ICCJ conference:

That was the 2015 conference in Rome. I was very impressed by the program which created space for intellectual rigor, cultural richness, and meditative moments as well as open and friendly conversation. The participants were given an opportunity to experience a religious other in an amiable and dialogical atmosphere. However, I was above all impressed by the people I met there. Diverse in any possible respects, one can see the people connected to the ICCJ are all united in their pursuit of honest and creative dialogue.

Tell us briefly about your most powerful ICCJ memory:

Albeit a Protestant, I must say it was meeting Pope Francis during the Rome conference.

How do you see the ICCJ evolving in the future:

If the ICCJ is to continue being a cutting-edge player in Jewish-Christian relations in particular and interfaith dialogue in general, I believe it needs to succeed in four main tasks. First, it needs to attract and involve young people. Second, it needs to also engage people from the global South. Third, it needs to prove as relevant to the people other than Jews and Christians, while still paying attention to the special nature of their relation. And fourth, it needs to creatively and effectively communicate between the global and various local levels of dialogue and cooperation.

What/which questions are the closest to your heart:

The issues mentioned in my answer to the previous question are really close to my heart. However, as a theologian, I am very much keen on pursuing the theological questions relevant to Jewish-Christian relations in general.

What is the greatest challenge you think the ICCJ will face in the coming years:

This challenge is, to my mind, multidimensional and interrelated. Again, I think that my answer to the question no. 4 describes it properly.

What advice would you give to someone who is just getting involved in the ICCJ:

I believe that the term “bold humility” very well expresses the position someone involved in the ICCJ is to adopt. Be sincerely open to and interested in what the other has to say! At the same time, be confident in what you can contribute with!