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'Courtyard ' in Berlin: praise and suggestions ...

(Vatican Radio ) The 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' project sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture travelled to Berlin this week. The initiative stems from the call of Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, to the Roman Curia back in 2009 to draw inspiration from that 'Courtyard' which was once part of the Jerusalem Temple. In his words : "...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". Hence the inspiration for this initiative as a space of encounter and dialogue between believers and non-believers.One which has already travelled to many other European capitals.Veronica Scarisbrick reports:
Stefan von Kempis is currently in Berlin following the event and speaks to Professor Hans Joas, a sociologist from Freiburg and a believer who entered into debate with a Professor of Philosophy who is a non-believer. Professor Joas highlights how the initiative is a praiseworthy one:
"First of all I welcome the initiative to enter into a dialogue between believers and non-believers, and particularly in an environment in which there clearly is a majority of non-Christians and even among the Christians, a majority of non-Catholics..."
In particular in this respect Professor Joas stresses his approval of the way the Catholic Church does not present itself as the sole possessor of truth but is open to dialogue contributed by representatives of other orientations. At the same time he also contests the wording of the metaphor adopted by this initiative, highlighting how this is an opinion shared by many in Berlin including in Catholic circles:
"...while it may not have been intended this way by the initiators this metaphor of course still somehow retains the meaning that there is an inner circle of those who are in full possession of truth and others are just admitted to the outer circles. There is a certain tension between the attitude of saying: here we want a dialogue of equal partners and using this metaphor, so that maybe something should be rethought a little bit."
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