Congress in Lublin

Chosen people. Jewish and Christian approaches to the topic of the people of God to Joseph Ratzinger.

The second congress of Fides et Cultura 2020 took place at the end of December 2022, during the Christmas season. Its character was scientific. This time we focused on the topic of Chosen People. We’re very happy that we met together as an international group, despite facing many last minute obstacles. When choosing the city for the congress we took cultural legacy under consideration. This is why we met in Lublin – a city not only important from a historical perspective of Poland, but first primarily an important centre of Jewish culture in our country. There were 14 participants in the congress, two of which took part remotely. There were many more willing to join us, however winter illnesses limited for them the possibility of meeting in person, including our special guest – father professor Achim Buckenmaier who held the lectures for us online.

The place chosen for our stay and lectures was not a coincidence – Hotel Ilan, located on Lubartowska Street, used to be a Talmudic academy – Wise Men Lublin School, built after the First World War. In the 1930s it was the biggest yeshiva in Europe and the world. The academy was placed in the late Jewish quarter. At this point it must be mentioned that before the Second World War the Jewish people made almost 40% of Lublin’s population. It is hard to imagine a place which would reflect the character of our congress better. As in our actions we always combine two pillars; fides, as the element deepening our faith, knowledge on the Church, her history and teaching; as well as cultura, as a visible realisation and incarnation of fides in contact with others incorporating different forms of spending time together.

The topic of the congress – Chosen people. Jewish and Christian approaches to the topic of the people of God according to Joseph Ratzinger – gathered us around the questions of who belongs to the Chosen people, what is its history, and what Jews and Christians have in common. Thanks to the lectures of fr. prof. Buckenmaier we could understand the approach of the Catholic Church to our older brothers in faith, how the Church sought for dialogue. Among others, Joseph Ratzinger was invited to the conference to Jerusalem in 1988, where he encouraged those in attendance to reconciliation of both religions. There might appear a question of why the interest in the topic of Judaism. As Christians we’re convinced it is of a value itself to comprehend our own identity, not only individually, but also the identity of our faith – fides. Recognising our identity is possible only through getting to know one’s own roots, which for Christians means familiarising themselves with Judaism, as well as familiarising ourselves with the person of Jesus Christ Himself. In doing so we discover the reality which surrounded Him when He was growing up and comprehend a new interpretation of His actions described in the gospels. It also helps us in understanding the rules which the first Christians lived by.

During discussions and talks, which were a continuation of the topics started in the lectures, we were wondering what the revelation is and what role does the Holy Scripture play. Thanks to the well-aimed questions and the knowledge of our priests – Jan Schönthaler and Paweł Milerski – we could find answers to our questions, one of which was whether Christians belong to the Chosen People. In his presentations fr. prof. Buckenmaier has pointed out unambiguously the indissolubility of Christianity and Judaism, explaining the bond connecting us with Israel and confirmed the mission both religions share and have received as a task – to live our lives in a way to reflect God’s love to those surrounding us. We also discussed the topic of Revelation and Scripture – how does God allow a person to know Him and why did He need the Chosen people to reveal Himself to the whole humanity.

Summing up the third event of the Fides et Cultura 2020 society (counting our first congress in Warsaw, followed by a trip to the mountains and the last conference in Lublin) I can state with great enthusiasm that we’re developing and improving in the right direction. The participants of the congress were very satisfied and asked for more possibilities of in-person meetings, trips and deepening of the topics of faith. The culture of the table cultivated by fr. Paweł Milerski – a form of spending time together having a good meal or a cup of coffee by a table in restaurants and cafes – encouraged the participants to talk and ask bold questions, which altogether made for open discussions, which is one of the main goals of our project. We’re very happy that after two years since the project has been initiated there is a stable group of people who regularly take part in our online meetings and create a society which willingly dives into the topics of faith and culture in the modern world.

We kindly invite everybody to participate in our meetings online, our congresses, and trips. You can join us via our web page through the dropdown menu “Weź Udział” – our webpage will soon be available in both Polish and English.