Vatican City, Dec 17, 2011 / 08:03 am
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, says he regrets never having met and chatted with atheist writer Christopher Hitchens, who died Dec. 15 at age 62.
“I would have liked the idea of dialoguing with him beyond the controversies and preconceived attitudes,” said Cardinal Ravasi on his blog Dec. 16.
Since earlier this year, Cardinal Ravasi’s Pontifical Council has hosted a series of events around Europe in which atheist and agnostic intellectuals have engaged in dialogue with their Catholic counterparts.
The initiative, inspired by Pope Benedict, is known as the Courtyard of the Gentiles and is named after area in the Temple of Jerusalem where Jews and Gentiles could meet and discuss.
“I had no way of inviting Hitchens to enter the courtyard,” wrote Cardinal Ravasi, who has invited several high-profile atheists to events in recent months, including Pope Benedict’s World Day of Peace gathering in Assisi in October.