Swedish Ambassador to Holy See: impressions on Courtyard of the Gentiles

2012-09-18 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Swedish Ambassador to the Holy See, Ulla Gudmundsson shares with Charlotte Smeds impressions of the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' project which travelled to Sweden from the 13th to the 14th of September. An encounter which had as theme: " A world with or without God? " and as purpose that of sponsoring dialogue between believers and non-believers.

An occasion with two different moments for dialogue, the first to discuss the relationship between science and faith with a parterre of philiosophers, scientists and theologians.

The second a more practical one, to discuss what it means to believe or not to believe in our every day lives, what this entails in our relations with others and within society at large.

Discussions which brought together an extremely wide spectrum of people from secular humanists, to scientists who do not believe, to representatives of the Swedish Church and other Churches.

Debates which served as an example the Ambassador says, in terms of the possibility:"... of having meaningful, respectful conversations between people who have different standpoints without arriving at a forced consensus and without it degenerating into a boxing match.."...

Charlotte Smeds also asked the Ambassador about the growing indifference to faith in our secular society today, picking up on an issue the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Gianfranco Ravasi has expressed concern about.

Ambassador Gudmondsson believes : "..that this attitude is more common in Sweden than miltant atheism. In one of the panels of discussion we had at least three people who had gone from a position of non believing to believing, but we also had a Swedish writer and journalist who grew up in one of the Swedish Churches and had since then lost his faith and I think the cardinal quoted him... as an example of someone simply drifting away from faith...I think this is a very common attitude among Swedes. Many people feel perfectly comfortable with it and are not necessarily hostile towards religion. And one of the questions raised at the end was whether the world would be better or worse without religion. And our Swedish writer came down very strongly on the side of the world being worse without religion in spite of not being a believer ..."..

For the record the meetings were sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture whose President is Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden to the Holy See, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Youth organisation ar Fryshuset

A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick .