|Common Ground friends in 2013 gathered at the Scottish House of Parliament
where we led a panel discussion.
“As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty which we believe have their highest expression and source in God. We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation.”
The Pope here raises up an enormous concern that threads through his predecessors from Pope Paul VI’s establishment of the Secretariat Non-Believers in 1965, and the strengthening of that work of that secretariat which became the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-believers by Pope Saint John Paul II. The Pontifical Council for Culture of the Roman Catholic Church created a program, already underway in parts of Europe called Courtyard of the Gentiles through the direction of Benedict XVI. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Council says this: “We wish to broach a dialogue, maintaining ourselves sturdy in our territories, but respecting the identities. It is the place to search for common itineraries, without shortcuts or distractions or disturbances, in which listening becomes fundamental in spite of the differences.” For Catholics, we have far to go and much to do to allow this concern of the Church to be internalized in the plans of the new evangelization in each and every diocese, particularly in Europe and the United States.
Ordinary People Seeking Meaningful Connections
|Secular humanists and religious
discussing common social
One of the remarks that surfaced consistently in our Common Ground conference among humanists
and religionists was that it seemed easier to find ways to dialogue among religious believers and humanists because we all believed this dialogue was important to undertake and came to the conference for that explicit purpose. This in fact was one aspect of “common ground” we all found. We all need to be in this dialogue relationship. That conviction that we all saw so apparent in our conference is in fact not shared at all with many of our colleagues, friends and fellow believers. In some ways, for theists and atheists, the necessity of this dialogue and collaboration is still new.
|A Muslim and Humanist participant at the Common Ground Conference in Scotland.|
Our hopes with the Common Ground Conference at Rutgers University is that it will spur further opportunities for secularists and religious believers to come to understand one another more profoundly in many walks of life.. The first thing that often changes in these encounters is our minds about each other. We often in religious circles imagine ourselves at battle with secularists, a fear driven outlook which deters us from seeking further the real truth that we are allies in a world that is often sick and violent, called to heal together. For Catholics, this is indeed an opportunity to unveil our own eyes in order to gaze at the powerful and pervading presence of the Trinity in all persons.