The Vatican’s new initiative aimed at sparking dialogue with atheists and agnostics may soon be coming to North America.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told CNA in a recent interview that the “The Courtyard of the Gentiles” may come to three cities. “Quebec in Canada, which is one of the so-called ‘most secular’ places there is, where it seems like these days the question of faith is almost bothersome,” he said. “And, also, we’re thinking about two U.S. cities--Chicago on the one hand and Washington on the other.”
The project was launched as an answer to the Pope’s call for a “new evangelization.” It draws upon the Church’s insistence that faith and reason are wholly compatible and can therefore form the basis for dialogue with non-Catholics, non-Christians and even atheists and agnostics.
The title “Courtyard of the Gentiles” is a reference to a part of the Temple of Jerusalem. It was the furthest non-Jews could enter into the compound and a place where they could interact with Jews. In the Gospels, Christ clears the money-changers from this area.
Pope Benedict has said previously that it was “cleared of extraneous affairs so that it could be a free space for the Gentiles who wished to pray there to the one God, even if they could not take part in the mystery for whose service the inner part of the Temple was reserved.”Any visit of the Courtyard of the Gentiles to North America is likely to take place next year.