Dear professor, my criticism of your book is in part harsh. Frankness, however, is part of dialogue: Only in this way can understanding grow. You were quite frank, and so you will accept that I should also be so. In any case, however, I very much appreciate that you, through your confrontation with my Introduction to Christianity, have sought to open a dialogue with the faith of the Catholic Church and that, notwithstanding all the contrasts in the central area, points of convergence are nevertheless not lacking.
— — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
, , , in an 11 page open letter to a prominent Italian Atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, in response to a book by him, Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You.
The National Catholic Register reports:
Odifreddi said the entire 11-page letter will be included in a new edition of his book. He said that he and Benedict may disagree on almost everything, but they have
united in at least one common goal: the search for the Truth, with a capital ‘T.’
For a different take on the story see The Ratz is back, stung by atheist into addressing the ‘deviance’ and ‘filth’ in his Church in The Freethinker.
Off topic, nonetheless relevant to prior discussions here.
The well-known German journalist Peter Seewald, former editor of “Der Spiegel”, once a communist and atheist, returned to Catholicism, stating that “Pope Benedict XVI is a spiritual master who can give answers.” In the interviews he later published in a book, Seewald heard the pontiff tell him that he did not want to see any questions in advance, and they were forthright questions, with answers that convinced him. Seewald was looking for the truth. Whether that will also be the case with Piergiorgio Odifreddi only time will show.
I think it’s significant that Benedict took the time and trouble to read all of Oddifredi’s book. Before dialogue with or evangelisation of the secular catchment can occur, it is essential to know precisely where they’re coming from and what they are saying. Otherwise there can be no common ground for discussion. Surprisingly, the god that atheists or agnostics don’t believe in, is often the same one that Christians don’t believe in either. In Oddifredi’s case it seems that he was already familiar with some specific works of Benedict. One would hope that this ought to make for some fruitful and useful exchanges. May the dialogue be as fruitful as it can be! Benedict: “… notwithstanding all the contrasts in the central area, points of convergence are nevertheless not lacking.”
There is more to read. Pope Benedict has also aimed at RD:
The Church is hitting hard and there is now news from: not Benedict, but Pope Francis. He has excommunicated the Australian priest Greg Reynolds for advocating the ordination of women.
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