The Pontifical Council for Culture has announced that it is creating a foundation to focus on relations with atheists and agnostics. The president of the Council announced the initiative on Wednesday as a response to Pope Benedict's call to "renew dialogue with men and women who don't believe but want to move towards God."
Speaking with the Italian Bishops' Conference's Avvenire newspaper, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC), outlined the objectives of the foundation, called "The Courtyard of the Gentiles."
"Firstly," he said, it is "to create a network of agnostic or atheistic people who accept dialogue and enter as members into the foundation and, as such, into our dicastery."
Archbishop Ravasi listed further objectives of starting relations with atheistic organizations, studying the "spiritual place" of non-believers and developing "themes of rapport between religion, society, peace and nature."
"With this initiative, we would like to help everyone to step out of a poor conception of believing, (and) promote the understanding that theology has scientific dignity" and a founding in nature, he continued.
These themes, said Archbishop Ravasi, would be addressed in a yearly conference, the first of which will take place in "the second half of this year, probably in Paris."