Contemplating the extraordinary journey made by the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” through Europe and America in the last few years, we can glimpse a construction yard where the foundations of dialogue between believers and non-believers lay.
After its solemn inauguration in Paris on 24 and 25 March 2011, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” focused on some fundamental issues for which the confrontation between “secularists” and Catholics seemed more urgent: the freedom, the social responsibility, common good, legality, the consciousness, the beauty, arts, Creation, transcendence, science, philosophy, Faith.
The events of the “Courtyard” developed in various fields of culture, starting with the great questions on human existence, ending with the societal challenges, always taking into account the symbolic importance of the places where they were held: “Humanism and Beauty” in Florence, “Culture and Legality” in Palermo, “Enlightenment, Religions and Common Reasons” in Paris, “Art and Transcendence” in Barcelona, “Democracy and common Good” in Washington, “Social Responsibility” in Buenos Aires, “Secularism and Transcendence” in Mexico, “Freedom” in Berlin, “Science and Consciousness” in Pavia, “Time” in Bologna, “Mafia and youth employment” in Turin.
Meanwhile, some shorter “Courtyards” involved certain categories of people: ambassadors about “Diplomacy and truth”, journalists about “Journalism and responsibility”, doctors about “Caring relationship and boundaries of life”, entrepreneurs and economists about “Economy and gratuity”, students about “Music” and “The city”.
Just as St Peter’s Square, the “Courtyard” has its “colonnade” of great thinkers, whose thoughts have been revoked during several initiatives over the years, because they represent the kaleidoscope of a culture, which is crossed by some questions about the relationship between faith and reason. Some examples: in Bucharest, Cioran, “The mystic without faith”, and Ionesco, “The agnostic enthusiastic by mystics”; in Marseilles, Camus, “The atheist who spoke to Christians” and Ricoeur “The Christian with a philosophical expression”; in Bologna, Rousseau, “The Christian without faith”; in Buenos Aires, Borges, “The atheist theologian”.
Also Saint Francis inspired a “Courtyard” in Assisi dedicated to “Our sister Mother Earth” and to the issues of Peace, inter-religious Dialogue, Poverty, Youth and Humanity.
St. Augustine and Pascal are always questioned as Erasmus and Dante, Nietzsche and Florenskij, Simone Weil and Maritain, Hannah Harendt and Etty Hillesum.
Not only Cacciari but also others living masters such as Marion, Kristeva and Bauman, have talked under the “colonnade” of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”.