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Vatican to Launch Dialogue with Atheists

posted by editor

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican announced a new initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between theists and atheists to be launched with a two-day event this March in Paris.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture will sponsor a series of seminars on the theme of “Religion, Light and Common Reason,” at various locations in the city, including Paris-Sorbonne University.
The events will conclude with a party for youth in the courtyard of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, followed by prayer and meditation inside the cathedral.
The initiative, called “Courtyard of the Gentiles,” takes its name from a section of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem accessible to non-Jews, which Pope Benedict XVI has used as a metaphor for dialogue between Catholics and non-believers.
“I believe that the church should also today open a sort of ‘courtyard of the gentiles’ where men can in some way hook on to God, without knowing him and before having gained access to his mystery,” Benedict said in Dec. 2009.
The pope has made turning back the tide of Western secularism one of the major campaigns of his papacy. The Vatican last year established the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization to focus especially on promoting Christianity in Europe.
– Francis X. Rocca, Religion News Service



  • jestrfyl

    I get the sense this ought to be a Whatsamattah U. – in Frostbite Falls – hosted by your favorite Moose & Squirrel.

  • Henrietta22

    Secularism and Religion have existed together in society for as long as I’ve been here. Perhaps if people would stop making such a big fuss about secularistic ideas and leave people alone to find their own way in their lives they would not run so hard away from spiritual matters. Might run right into God, as a matter of fact.

  • pagansister

    Pontifical Council for Culture? So Atheists need culture?

  • nnmnns

    Well put Henrietta. I don’t know what he wants to accomplish here. And with no one in charge of us, how do you invite the atheists?

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Dialog between groups is good, but the expressed purpose here is not exchange of ideas but “turning back the tide of Western secularism,” which makes this event seem like a large venue for proselytism. I also note that the Pope considers the church to be THE way that people can find God — that is, God lives inside the church, dontcha know, so come on in and meet him.
    On the other hand, the title “Religion, Light, and Common Reason” does sound hopeful. So I’ll withhold judgment for now.

  • nnmnns

    Attention: It’s Tom Paine’s birthday. One of our founding fathers and author of “Common Sense”, a great read.

  • http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm Katie Murphy

    God save us from the pope who in 2009 UNexcommunciated a Bishop Williamson, who is a holocaust denier. Later he said he didn’t know that fact, but has yet to toss the creep out. Of course the nutcase has 600.000 mad followers, and the church needs the money.
    I think all aethists should go to his meeting and just plain riot. As a catholic friend said the other day -“until the cardinals throw the bum out, or god disposes of him, I’m one of 30% of “lapsed” catholics for whom the church is a horror show.
    BTW – go to the website – about 100 pix that will turn your hair gray and explain about the church and WWII

  • Katie Murphy

    God save us from the pope who in 2009 UNexcommunciated a Bishop Williamson, who is a holocaust denier. Later he said he didn’t know that fact, but has yet to toss the creep out. Of course willaimson has 600.000 followers, and the church needs the money.
    I think all aethists should go to his meeting and just plain riot. As a catholic friend said the other day -“until the cardinals throw the him out, or god does the same, I’m one of 30% of “lapsed” catholics for whom the church is a horror show.
    BTW – go to the website – about 100 pix that will turn your hair gray and explain about the church and WWII

  • http://heathensguide.com William Hopper

    As an atheist, come March I’ll likely be packing my bags and heading to Paris for the conference. This is a debate I have to be part of. The Holy See is biting off more than it can chew, and it’s going to be worth seeing.
    Catholicism is quite convincing to those raised in it, but it will not do well under informed scrutiny.
    William Hopper
    author, The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions
    http://www.heathensguide.com

  • Robird

    I find this interesting and good news. I have been a critic of the Church, but I want to find whatever is good in it and celebrate it, for Christ’s sake.
    I have had, and continue to have friends who are atheists. Some are the finest people I know. The dialogue can be stimulating, if it is not considered an excuse for a passive-agressive verbal bout between the two camps.
    I know Jean Paul Sartre used to have dialogues on matters of faith with Catholics, all the while maintaining the integrity of his existentialist philosophy. Try to imagine someone being God not believing in God-or if Christ dwells within each of us, the person who does not believe is following a primordial call of conscience which remains a critic of the religious pretensions of the faith community.
    One way to disarm the possible tensions in this kind of dialogue is to avoid the necessity to prove the other wrong, and instead engage in a dialogue based on reason and the free use of the faculty of intellect informed by the light of conscience.
    I have been a doubter of some aspects of the Catholic faith, for reasons of conscience. If the Church can dialogue with atheists, perhaps she can one day learn to relate compassionately to dissenters within the ranks.

  • query

    My posts don’t post. I thought this was good news, critic or not.

  • http://www.atheistsofflorida.org John Kieffer

    This is apparently a diversion to take attention off of their pedophile problem, which the pope himself institutionalized a conspiracy (via top secret documents written in Latin and other evidence) to prevent public knowledge and evade criminal prosecution of the rampant sex abuse of children among its clergy worldwide.
    How about arresting the Pope for facilitating/coordinating what can be called an organized crime syndicate if he dares wander unto Paris in March.
    John Kieffer
    former Catholic, former altar boy, and former Catholic soldier for the “Christ character” fighting to maintain the Vatican’s interests in Vietnam 1969-70 (via US Cardinal Francis Spellman, “close” friend of Eugenio Pacelli aka Pope Pius XII, who, together, orchestrated the Vietnam War)

  • nnmnns

    Excellent points, John.

  • cknuck397

    Of course John, nnmnns there are no atheist pedophiles.

  • pagansister

    Well folks, there are pedophiles in all walks of life and in every religion,and those who claim none, on the face of this small planet—–unfortunately. I’m just wondering what Benny’s crew is going to use as an arguement FOR their ridiculous claim of being THE church. Of course, I think most religions think the are the BEST.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    There are no atheist pedophiles who claim to be saved by God’s grace. The crime is the same; the difference is in the hypocrisy.

  • pagansister

    Good point, H4C!!!

  • cknuck

    H4C it matters little to the young ones who are hurt who does the hurting, your stab at Christianity is just an empty self-serving pitiful contemptuous jab borne of your disdain for our faith.

  • cknuck

    H4C what does your point matter to the little one who is hurt? It is a self-serving jab at Christianity.

  • http://www.ajdeus.org a.j. deus

    The public dialogue with Atheists could benefit from the new publication „The Great Leap-Fraud, Social Economics of Religious Terrorism.“ It is a saga of deceit and fraud under cover of religion through 2300 years of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In its approach as one piece of the struggle against poverty, it includes all necessary primary evidence how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolds through the eye of history.
    Herbert L. Calhoun asks in his review for The Great Leap-Fraud by author A.J. Deus:
    “Is this the Historico-religious Trifecta of the Century?
    It is my considered opinion that all the Sam Harrises, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennetts in the world could not have made a more profound statement about why ridding the world of organized religion must remain postmodern man’s most urgent task than the case made here by this author.”
    Summaries can be found at ajdeus.org.

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