by John L Allen Jr on Mar. 18, 2011
Somewhere deep in their souls, most Catholics long to feel proud of their church and its leaders. At times, however, that sense of pride can seem all but buried under an avalanche of heartache and bad news.
Recent developments in Philadelphia, for example, have ripped open the wounds of the sexual abuse crisis, prompting a large swath of observers in the outside world to conclude that Catholicism is fatally corrupt, and even many rank-and-file Catholics to wonder why the church seems so unable to get its act together.
For Catholics eager for signs of positive energy, next week should offer a badly needed boost.
In Paris, March 24-25, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, under the leadership of its genial and erudite president, Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, will stage something called “The Courtyard of the Gentiles” — a high-profile new forum for dialogue, rather than polemics, between believers and non-believers.