We wanted to share the work of Katie Gordon, who is doing interesting things in the nontraditional dialogue of spirituality across and within the borders of religion, a real challenge for traditional faiths and one we do well to be part of.
The concern of the Church to understand them more deeply secular culture and the dialogue we must have is rooted in the spirit of Vatican II.
Pope Paul VI, who closed Vatican II and launched the Church into a new future, wrote in his first encyclical in 1964, Ecclesium Suam: “God Himself took the initiative in the dialogue of salvation. “He first loved us.” We, therefore, must be the first to ask for a dialogue with others (men), without waiting to be summoned to it by others.” (72) Read to 70-85.
The Pope established the Secretariat for Non-Believers in 1965 as a focal point for the dialogue with people of goodwill who profess no specific religion or religious belief.
The first religious/secular dialogue guideline was released in 1968, entitled DIALOGUE WITH NON-BELIEVERS, through Cardinal Francis Konig, President of the Secretariat.
St. Pope John Paul II changed the Secretariat to the Pontifical Council of Culture on 20 May 1982, intending to establish a dialogue between the Church and the cultures of our time. The new opportunities of mission lie in our cultural and religious diversity.
Pope Benedict XVI instituted, through this Council, the Courtyard of the Gentiles to create international conferences for interaction “with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown.
Pope Francis, in his first encyclical, Joy of the Gospel, says: “As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, …We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation.” (257)
In 1969, the Secretariat for Nonbelievers in Rome held the first conference after creating guidelines for Catholics in dialogue with nonreligious friends. Understanding the Culture of Unbelief was an essential goal of the church and continues to be. The conference proceedings: Rocco Caporale & Antonio Grumelli, eds. Understanding the Culture of Unbelief: Studies and Proceedings from the First International Symposium on Belief Held in Rome, March 22-27, 1969. The University of California Press, Berkley: 1971.
Including the Non-religious in Interfaith Dialogue
Encounter and Dialogue Among the Religious and Nonreligious
The Xaverian Missionaries began a project of dialogue and engagement with atheists, secular humanists, and the unaffiliated through a project we called COMMON GROUND in 2012 in partnership with our brothers in the United Kingdom. We encourage you to explore these links and join the conversation as we learn to enlarge our Catholic embrace.
The first reason is to explore new opportunities of the 21st century to live out the “mission ad gentes” of the Church that binds us as Catholics to all those who believe differently than us. This relationship is an important place where we share the love of Christ.
Second, in the Western world, the gulf felt between people of faith and secular culture is a not-so-new periphery of the Church that demands encounter, study, and the application of the Gospel in the spirit of dialogue, love, and bridge-building.
Secular culture applies to atheists, secular humanists, the unaffiliated (those who left religion behind), seekers, agnostics, and others who do not believe in God or hold to any particular religious belief.
Religious and Nonreligious Encounter with the Xaverian Missionaries
As part of the Common Ground Project, we have a Meetup Group of religious and nonreligious friends who come together to explore our common ground with one another and those things that make us uniquely different from one another. Our group has been meeting for more than eight years.
Common Ground: Conversations between Atheists, Religious Believers & Secular Humanists
A) 2013 Conference of Religious and Non-Religious: Coatbridge, Scotland
B) 2015 Conference of Religious and Non-Religious @ Rutgers University
In 2015, together with the American Humanist Association and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, we organized another dialogue conference entitled COMMON GROUND 2015,bringing together more than 120 religious and non-religious students, leaders, scholars, and pastoral agents to dialogue around meaning in life, ethics and values, and secular and religious communities in action toward charity and justice.
We are reflecting and writing on these ongoing experiences through two blogs, our own Catholic Global Mission and a non-religious blog on patheos.com called Secular Spectrum, probably the largest online interfaith conversation.
Catholic Global Mission (Official blog of the Xaverian Missionaries USA)
In our study, we share books that are part of a larger community of study and dialogue. Some are academic, others more easily accessible. They are a good place to start if you want to explore this unique dialogue.