Commentary: Reflections on the presence of atheists in Assisi

Source: FSSPX News

In the October 31, 2011 issue of Correspondance européenne (European Correspondence) (No. 242), the Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, who, on January 11, 2011, had signed a petition asking Benedict XVI to “flee from the spirit of Assisi” (see No. 228 DICI 1/22/11), expressed his anxiety about the presence of atheists at the interreligious meeting in Assisi on October 27th:

“There is, of course, the possibility that the non-believers are on a search for or a ‘pilgrimage’ to Truth.  This is what can happen when respect for the Second Commandment (love of neighbor) grows progressively and seeks its foundation in the First Commandment (love of God). This is the position of the so-called “devout atheists” such as Marcello Pera and Giuliano Ferrara, who—as was rightly pointed out by Francesco Agnoli in his article: Io cattolico pacelliano, dico al card. Ravasi che ha ad Assisi sbagliato atei (I, a Pacellian Catholic, say to Cardinal Ravasi that at Assisi he was wrong about the atheists) in Il Foglio, 29 October 2011)—“have had their way with believers, and the way they continue to do so is by making their arguments work.”  In regards to certain precepts of the Decalogue, these last today show themselves to be more confident and observant than many Catholics.  But the atheists summoned to Assisi are anything but ‘devout’: they belong to that category of non-believers who despise not only the first three commandments, but the entire Decalogue.

“It is a position the philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva has taken up again in the daily paper Corriere della Sera of October 28, 2011—which published in extenso her remarks at Assisi, in a article titled Un nuovo umanesimo dieci principi (Ten Principles of a New Humanism).  In contrast to other lay specialists, Kristeva asserted a line of thought which, starts from the Renaissance and ends up at the Enlightenment of Diderot, Voltaire and Rousseau, including the Marquis de Sade, Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, that is to say this itinerary, as demonstrated by leading atheist experts—Father Cornelio Fabro (Introduzione all'ateismo moderno, Studium, Rome 1969), and the philosopher Augusto Del Noce (It dell'ateismo problema, Il Mulino, Bologna 2010)—carries precisely the nihilism that the French psychoanalyst, without denying her own atheistic vision and permissive society, would like to counter in the name of a collaborative “complicity” between Christian humanism and secular humanism .  The outcome of this peaceful coexistence between the atheist principle of immanence and a vague reminder of the Christian religiosity can only be pantheism, dear to all the modernists, past and present.

“The point upon which Assisi III risks standing is a dangerous furtherance of the confusion that currently grips the Church, that which all the media has largely emphasized, namely, the extension of the invitation to Assisi to atheists and agnostics selected among the most distant from Christian metaphysics, in addition to those addressed to representatives of different religions around the world.  We wonder what dialogue can be possible with these ‘unbelievers’ who contradict the source of natural law.

“The distinction between atheist ‘combatants’ and atheist ‘partners” risks ignoring the aggressive power contained in implicit atheism, which is not conveyed in a militant way, but which is actually more dangerous.  Atheists of the UAAR (Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics) at least have something to teach Catholics: in defense of their truths they profess their errors with a militant spirit from which Catholics have totally abdicated. (...) "(Source: Correspondance européene- DICI No. 244 of 11/11/11)

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