Professor Harold Kasimow Presents Plaque to Pope Francis

October 04, 2018

Harold Kasimow, George Drake Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, recently presented Pope Francis with a plaque highlighting his forthcoming book, Pope Francis and Interreligious Dialogue: Religious Thinkers Engage with Recent Papal Initiatives.

“It was an informal conversation and Pope Francis asked me to pray for him,” Kasimow recalls. “Meeting Pope Francis enhanced my admiration for him because of his exceptional humility and his deep commitment to the poor and the environment, as well as his desire to bring healing between the world’s religions, which is critical for peace. The audience was a very special moment for me, as it was for my co-editor, the Rev. Alan Race, who chairs the World Congress of Faiths.”

The book, to be released by Palgrave MacMillan in mid-October, engages thinkers from different religious and humanist traditions in response to Pope Francis’s pronouncements on interreligious dialogue.

The contributors write from the perspectives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Humanism. Each author elaborates on how the pope’s openness to dialogue and invitation to practical collaboration on global concerns represents a significant achievement as the world faces an uncertain future.

This book “is a must-read for anyone interested in Pope Francis and relations between the world’s religions,” writes Kusumita Pedersen, professor emerita of religious studies at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

A Poland native and Holocaust survivor, Kasimow joined the Grinnell faculty in 1972 with the founding of the Department of Religious Studies. He taught courses in comparative religion and Judaism. He has written extensively about his teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.

In 1998, Kasimow had an audience with Pope John Paul II, to inform him of the publication of his co-edited book, John Paul II and Interreligious Dialogue.