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Vatican to launch dialogue with non-believers in March
By Alan Holdren, Rome Correspondent
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

.- Dialogue between the Vatican, agnostics and atheists will take place in a new arena as of this spring.

The "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, brainchild of the Pontifical Council for Culture and its president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, will be officially presented Mar. 24-25 in Paris, France.

Cardinal Ravasi first unveiled his plans for the Paris inauguration of the "Courtyard" last year, but further details were released in a statement from the council on Jan. 25.

The Vatican's culture department plans for it to be "a new permanent Vatican structure to promote dialogue and encounter between believers and non-believers."

The inauguration in Paris will involve a series of events over the two days.

Presentations based on the theme “religion, enlightenment, common reason" will be delivered at the headquarters of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, Sorbonne University and the Institut de France.

A roundtable discussion will be held at the College des Bernardins at their conclusion on March 25. Festivities including music, plays, and a light show will follow outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

During the celebration, themed “Into the Courtyard of the Unknown,” the cathedral will be open for prayer and meditation.

As reported in Italy's La Repubblica last May, Cardinal Ravasi explained that the "project" would begin with the broad base of discussing "a comprehensive vision of man."

It will not shy away from themes such as abortion, homosexuality and pedophilia, he said, but these subjects would be addressed during dialogue "in due time."


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