During a visit to the Vatican with a delegation of businessmen and businesswomen from South America and Spain visited the Vatican, Prof. Hershkowitz explained that "as a microcosm of Israeli society, Bar-Ilan's doors are open to students of all races and religions.
"Through a variety of ongoing dialogue programs aimed at fostering understanding and acceptance, Bar-Ilan University has been working to bridge gaps between various sectors of Israeli society for many years.
"It is, therefore, a deep privilege to be meeting with and honoring the pope, who has taken it upon himself to undertake this tremendous task on a worldwide scale."
Pope Francis replied that he welcomed the new development. He called for the strengthening of relations between Jews and Christians around the world, saying that "we are the sons of Abraham and we have the privilege and the responsibility to guide humankind on the path to peace."
During the meeting, the university bestowed its highest Award of Distinction upon the Pope in recognition of his lifelong efforts and commitment to building bridges between worlds, promoting peace and harmony among nations and creeds, and defending and fighting for human rights.
"Peace and harmony were born much before religions were," Prof. Hershkowitz told the pontiff. "The concepts of harmony and unity are shared by our respective religions. Unfortunately however, we are living in a world that is filled with hostility and animosity.
"Our very presence here signals a new beginning; a vista of opportunity. We are ever so aware of the need for dialogue and harmony, peace and coexistence."