Courtyard of the Gentiles

Vatican's culture council launches new world forum for evangelization

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- The Pontifical Council for Culture is launching an international forum to promote dialogue between Catholics and non-believers.

The new Vatican network and forum, called the "Courtyard of the Gentiles," will be inaugurated in Paris March 25.

According to a Jan. 25 press release from the council, events will span two days and include lectures, a roundtable discussion and an outdoor party in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

The lectures will center on the theme "Religion, Enlightenment and Common Reason," and will be held at UNESCO headquarters, the Sorbonne and the French Institute. The roundtable discussion will be held at the College des Bernardins.

Music, art, theater and a light show will be included in the evening celebration, called "Into the Courtyard of the Unknown," in front of the Paris cathedral March 25. A prayer vigil and moment for reflection will be held inside the cathedral, too, the council said.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI proposed the creation of a "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, which would use debates, meetings and theater to bring people of the Catholic faith and of no faith together to promote dialogue and friendship.

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