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Let us reason together

17 April 2013

AFP, via  Guerrilla Comunicacional México (which has an AK-47 on their masthead and the motto: “Don’t believe the mass media, do your own research and draw your own conclusions”).  My translation:

In May, for the first time ever,  a Vatican-organized forum will be held in Mexico to promote dialogue between Catholic Church leaders and atheist and non-believers intellectuals.

Gianfranco Ravasi

Gianfranco Ravasi

The initiative for the “Atrium of the Gentiles” conference came from now Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV and Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The project was inspired by the space reserved in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, set aside for meeting with non-believers.

The forum, will be held the 6th  to 9th of  May in several sites in Mexico, including the  UNAM campus, considered the most prestigious and most secular university in Latin America.

“Until now there has never been a Cardinal, or even the Archbishop of Mexico on that campus, ” Ravasi, who will attend the discussions, commented on Friday.

Mexico was specifically chosen for this conference being one of the most Catholic countries in the world, but also one with a strongly anti-clerical tradition, marked by a religious war in the 1920s… something that will be discussed at a round-table with secular intellectuals.

Cardinal Ravasi will be a participant in another discussion, on  “Secularism and transcendence”. Eduardo Gonzales di Pierro, Carlos Pereda Failache, Julio Hubbard, Hugo Hiriat and Carlos Ornelas are also scheduled for various talks, as will the atheist philosopher Guillermo Hurtado, who was invited by Benedict XVI to to an inter-relgious meeting held in Assisi, Italy, in October 2011.

In Monterrey and Puebla, Cardinal Ravasi  will give talks on the value of education in “a society marked by drug violence, that every year kills thousands in Mexico”.

In Puebla, the Italian Cardinal will be receiving an honorary doctorate from PUASP after presentation of his thesis “Rethinking the university from the perspective of dialogue, faith and culture.”

Ravasi, 70, a Bible scholar,  is considered a brilliant intellectual, known to send out tweets in Latin.  A film and literature buff,  he was considered among the  “papables” at the March conclave to elect Benedict’s successor.

Dialogue with non-believers is expected to be a theme in the  papacy of Argentine Pope Francis, who announced at the start of her reign that he wants to push the church out to the “existential peripheries” and to abandon its “self-referencial” positions.

The Vatican said that after the Mexican conference, it will be looking at holding similar forums in other Latin American nations.

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