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Courtyard Of The Gentiles? What’s the Point?

Word has leaked out that the Catholic Church is planning a new strategy for transforming people who don’t believe in gods into Catholic believers. It’s called the Courtyard of the Gentiles, and it will be a new foundation that will invite non-theists to debates. Only non-theists who haven’t expressed a strong disdain for the beliefs of the Catholic Church will be invited, though.

What’s the point? What do non-theists have to gain from entering the domain of the Catholic Church, and agreeing to be labeled as “gentiles”, a term that accepts the Catholic Church as the center of the cultural universe?

One article describing this new Vatican project quotes Pope Benedict as explaining, “They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them, even if they cannot believe in the concrete nature of his concern for us.”

With a statement like that, it’s clear that the Catholic hierarchy still doesn’t understand that non-theists simply don’t center their lives around a belief in God. The Archbishop seems to believe that non-theists merely are skeptical about the relationship of the Christian God to humans.

If that’s where the conversation starts, how could it possibly move forward in a way that benefits anyone but the Catholic Church? The Pope might as well attend a debate in which he’s expected to discuss his relationship to the Wiccan rites of Beltane.

2 comments to Courtyard Of The Gentiles? What’s the Point?

  • Peregrin –

    It seems that the Pope falls into the same bizarre belief of many fundamentalists; he cannot grasp the possibility that there are people who simply do not believe in his god’s existence. Therefore, he assumes they must believe in, but wilfully reject, his god because they want to sin. (“free thought and will” means “intentional rejection of the will of the purported deity”)

    As an atheist myself, I can say without reservation that the only “question of gods” present for me is why belief in such things persists in advanced civilizations.

    Quite frankly, atheists do not believe that the available evidence indicates that gods exist, just as Christians do not believe that the available evidence indicates that gods other than their own exist.

    I am no more curious about the concerns of a “god” than I am about the concerns of an invisible pink unicorn or an undetectable globe-orbiting teapot.

    • Quite right, Jenny. People who don’t believe in astrology are not commonly described as still being interested in the questions of astrology, or as merely wondering if astrological powers have a significant influence. If the Catholic Church wants to conduct a successful “courtyard”, it’s going to need to do a lot better than merely repeating its same old rhetoric. Unfortunately, repeating old rhetoric no matter how the world changes is something that Catholic Church seems to specialize in.

      Also – thanks for the tip.

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