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Oasis: with the death of secular humanism, it is time to build new bridges



Milan, 18 June 2013: Italy’s Ca'Granda, once one of Milan's oldest Church-run hospitals, home since 1958 of the city's Università degli Studi, and scene in 1968 of students' protests and after that of Italy's terrorist wave, was the setting for the 10th annual meeting of the Oasis Centre's Scientific Committee on Monday and Tuesday. This year's topic was 'On a tightrope: Christians and Muslims between Secularism and Ideology'.
Participants focused on the long process of secularization that began with the rise of humanism during the Italian Renaissance, which spread across Europe, and continued with the increasing marginalisation of the religious aspect in social, political and economic life.

As its range extended to the rest of the world through a global technocracy based on science and finance, secularisation came into contact and clashed with the cultures of the Middle East, North Africa and the Far East. Whilst subordinating and transforming them, it also provoked resistance, both peaceful and violent (fundamentalism), both in Europe and in other parts of the world.

All those who spoke on Monday agreed to this historical analysis. Above all, they agreed on something that is rare to see so succinctly expressed, namely, that death has come to secularism, not God.

Card Angelo Scola, Oasis Centre's president and archbishop of Milan, stressed, following Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, that the economic crisis in the West and most of the planet "is a human crisis; that man is in crisis."

In his address, Prof Francis Francesco Botturi, professor of Moral Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, said, "Atheism is, contrary to what it intended, a powerful factor in nihilism." The contemporary world, he added, presents a "vast emptiness in universality (in terms of meaning, values, forms of life, i.e. shared existence."

Yet, he said, a religious revival of sort is underway in number of places, too often in partial forms through subjective values ​​within a secularised mode, or as a form of religiosity that is detached from the Church, or through the reassertion of traditionalism or fundamentalism. For Botturi, it is important to think about Christianity "after secularisation" so that through their contributions Christians and Muslims are not reduced to "passive receptors or adversaries" of modernity.

Another speaker, Sayyid Jawad al-Khoei, focused on the efforts within Iraq's Shia Islam to promote pluralism and religious freedom for everyone in a country marked by years of war and sectarian killings. Director of a foundation based in Najaf, the Shia holy city in Iraq, and a student of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who in recent years has defended steadfastly the presence of Christians in Iraq, Jawad al-Khoei strongly condemned violence justified on religious grounds, which he blames on Wahhabism and 'Takfirism.' However, he also called on the Western world not lump everything together and blame violence on Islam as a whole.Source. AsiaNews




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