Gentiles, heed!

The Courtyard of the Gentiles is taking place right now in Paris.

from John Allen:

In effect, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” amounts to a way for Catholicism to present the best of itself to a jaded secular world -- the intelligence of Catholic tradition, its curiosity and openness, and its drive to become what Pope Paul VI called the “sacrament of the unity of the human family.”

Inspiration came from Benedict XVI’s speech to Roman Curia in December 2009, when the pontiff looked back on his trip that year to the Czech Republic -- statistically, at least, the most secularized society in Europe, with the highest percentage of avowed atheists and agnostics.

Reflecting on the experience, Benedict said: “I think the church today should open a sort of ‘Courtyard of the Gentiles,’” referring to the space in the ancient Jerusalem temple where non-Israelites could enter.

Ravasi and the Council for Culture took that notion and ran with it. In February, during a trial run for the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” in Bologna, Ravasi explained its spirit.

“Encounter between believers and non-believers occurs when they abandon ferocious apologetics and devastating desecrations,” he said, “revealing the deep motives for both the hope of the believer and the hesitation of the agnostic.”

Ravasi clearly identified the personality type of someone unsuited for such an exchange, whether a believer or not: “Someone convinced of already possessing all the answers, with the duty simply to impose them.”

The March 24-25 showcase in Paris amounts to the prime-time debut of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles,” meaning a major public showcase designed to draw national and international notice.

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