N.J. prof meets Pope Francis to discuss genocide prevention

By Matt Gray, For NJ.com

GALLOWAY — A Stockton University professor recently met with Pope Francis to discuss the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq, the school announced.

Elisa Von Joeden-Forgey, a professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and human rights lawyer Irene Victoria Massimino met privately with the Pope at the Vatican on May 5 to discuss the threat posed by ISIS.

Before meeting with Pope Francis, the pair traveled to Iraq and met with students in the TeenSpirit Iraq English School, which von Joeden-Forgey founded after her first trip to Iraq in 2016, and members of persecuted minority religious groups.

“The pope was gracious, generous, kind and brilliant,” von Joeden-Forgey said in a statement. “He had very interesting things to say about genocide prevention and the suffering of unwanted people in today’s world. He spoke with us for about 40 minutes and is clearly committed to the work of long-term genocide prevention.”

The trips to Iraq and the meeting with Pope Francis are part of a larger initiative, the Iraq Project for Genocide Prevention, which von Joeden-Forgey and Massimino founded in 2016 in collaboration with the Genocide Prevention Certificate Program at Stockton.

The online genocide certificate program was founded by von Joeden-Forgey in 2015. Massimino teaches in the program.