The Vatican is planning to host a series of debates in Paris next year where atheists will be pitted against the Church’s “top theologians.”
The “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, as the foundation is known, is being set up by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the influential Vatican department that is charged with fostering better relations with non-Catholics. It was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to spearhead his attempts to create a better dialogue with other cultures and faith, including those with no religion at all.
Wouldn’t you love to see Christopher Hitchens in a debate against the best the Catholic Church has to offer?
That’s Pay-per-view right there.
There’s just one catch…
Prominent atheists won’t be allowed to participate.
… In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, made it clear he would not be willing to give a platform to certain prominent atheists.
The foundation, he said, would only be interested in “noble atheism or agnosticism, not the polemical kind -– so not those atheists such as [Piergiorgio] Odifreddi in Italy, [Michel] Onfray in France, [Christopher] Hitchens and [Richard] Dawkins”.
Such atheists, he added, only view the truth with “irony and sarcasm” and tend to “read religious texts like fundamentalists”.
The people who are allowed to battle their “top theologians” are atheists who have never treated religion with contempt or sarcasm, and who have never read the Bible as if it was to be taken literally (as most Christians do).
This narrows the field down to… *scratches head*….
You know, if you’re trying to reach out to atheists, then go all the way. Don’t say you’re open to dialogue… except with people who already criticize you.
You will never hear a seasoned debater like Dan Barker say he won’t go up against particular Christians.
When you have stronger arguments, it doesn’t matter who your opponents are.
Makes you wonder what the Catholic Church is afraid of.