Vatican dialogue between believers and non-believers


Vatican Information Service reports that the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' - two days of meeting and dialogue between believers and non-believers - will be held on 24 and 25 March in Paris, France.

An initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the event's title evokes the image of the vast area near the Temple of Jerusalem reserved for debates between Jews and non-Jews.

"At the request of Benedict XVI, the Church has decided to embark on a new stage of dialogue, exchange and joint activity among believers and non-believers," Pontifical Council for Culture President Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said.

"The aim is to help to ensure that the great questions about human existence, especially the spiritual questions, are borne in mind and discussed in our societies, using our common reason.

"Believers and non-believers stand on different ground, but they must not close themselves in a sacral or secular isolationism, ignoring one another or, worse still, launching taunts or accusations as do fundamentalists on one side and the other.

"Of course, differences must not be skimmed over, contradictory ideas must not be dismissed, or discordances ignored...but thoughts and words, deeds and decisions can be confronted, and even come together."

The inaugural session of the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' will take place on the afternoon of 24 March at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, presided by Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, and attended by diplomats and representatives of the world of culture.

A number of initiatives are scheduled for Friday 25 March at Sorbonne University, Institut de France" the College des Bernardins.

The day will conclude with a celebration on the forecourt of the cathedral of Notre Dame with the theme 'Into the Courtyard of the Unknown'.

Pope Benedict XVI will address those present from giant screens set up for the occasion, explaining the significance and objectives of the Pontifical Council for Culture's initiative.


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