Rorate Caeli

“Courtyard of the gentiles” in Assisi - but what are they going to talk about?

Forty speakers will take part in the “Courtyard of the gentiles” in Assisi - but what are they going to talk about?

by Cristina Siccardi

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini taught his students well. It was he, as bishop and Cardinal, who conceived the idea of the “Cathedra of Unbelievers”, a formula that has been transferred to the so-called “Courtyard of the Gentiles”  meetings which have taken place more or less everywhere since 2011 with the aim of promoting dialogue in the world between Christians and unbelievers.  This initiative was started by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi - since 2007, President of The Pontifical Council of Culture, of the Pontifical Commission of the Church’s Cultural Property and of the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology.

In a few days, on October 5-6, [2012,] we will have “The Courtyard of Francis: God, this Unknown one.”  The Courtyard of Francis? But St. Francis has nothing whatever to do with this very secular and relativist enterprise, banner of the religion - which is – non-religion.  God, for St. Francis, was not at all unknown, seeing that for Christ he risked his entire life and left the world in order to embrace the Cross with all his being, so much so that he earned the stigmata.

Many famous names, many faces of power, that of the state, government, economics, culture, the press. Many words, an ocean of words: nine meetings spread out over the town of the intensely Catholic St. Francis. Here the spotlights will be focused on everything but the one and only Truth, revealed by Jesus Christ, guarded by the Holy Roman Church.  [It amounts to] the most excessive subjectivism, the kind which frightened and alarmed Cardinal Newman, who was left alone, in Anglican England, (much more Anglican than it is nowadays) to defend that Truth he had so long yearned for.  Here we will not even find the witness of the martyrs, who immolated their existence for the Faith and who, for love of the Cross, offered themselves on the altar. 

At least forty speakers will be there, but to talk about what?

The event will  be opened by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and will be closed by Cardinal Ravasi and the Minister of Economic Development, Infrastructures and Transport, representative of Monti’s technocratic government which has distinctly relativistic ideas - immanentist, globalist - and -  in practice – in favour of the dissolution of Christian roots. 

Here are the other names:  Eraldo Affinati, Lucia Annunziata, Luigi Berlinguer, Franco Bernabè, Enzo Bianchi, Giancarlo Bosetti, Luigino Bruni, John Borelli, Susanna Camusso, Aldo Cazzullo, Vincenzo Cerami, Lorenzo Chiuchiu', Virman Cusenza, Ferruccio de Bortoli, Domenico De Masi, Massimiliano Fuksas, Umberto Galimberti, Stas' Gawronski, Massimo Giannini, Giulio Giorello, Simon Hampton, Orazio La Rocca, Raffaele Luise, Monica Maggioni, Giuliana Martirani, Armando Matteo, Roberto Olla, Ermanno Olmi, Mario Orfeo, Moni Ovadia, Giuseppe Piemontese, Federico Rampini, Ermete Realacci, Giuseppe Virgilio, Umberto Veronesi, Gustavo Zagrebelsky, Alex Zanotelli.* see translator’s note 

Here are the themes that will be discussed: “the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth”,  faith, work, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, youth and the relationship between art and the sacred.

In short, there will be two protagonists on the scene: doubt and experience.  The former will cause even more imbalance in a society [already] profoundly schizophrenic. The latter will produce a kaleidoscope of “worm-eaten ”  ideas which will insinuate into minds already more than sufficiently confused.

Well then, who will this symposium address? The answer is simple:  the tens, maybe hundreds of journalists who will rush to Assisi and who will make out in some way that the event “has been an enormous success.” Certainly praises will be bestowed and they will be dictated by the names present, not the ideas exposed.  A Protestant cloud will hover over Assisi, liberalist and atheist. It will also draw nutriment from the socialist and communist ideas that continue to live in the metabolism of a diseased civilization, which has decided, knowingly, to worsen its condition of spiritual and social health. The language used will be of a sociological, demagogical, emotional nature.

So, this convention which is to be held in the town constrained nowadays to host anti-Catholic events, will absolutely not speak to souls thirsting for certainties, assurance, transcendence, anchors to cling to and pillars to lean on;  those souls, who despite everything, hasten to the fortresses of the spirit, that is, to the Sanctuaries or to the tombs of the saints, such as the Capuchin, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, another of St. Francis’ sons who also received the gift of the stigmata. And it will neither speak to those souls who desperately go about seeking pastors and teachers in the Church of Christ and not to V.I.P.s and narcissists, who love only themselves and the parades of the world.

We read in the First Letter of St. John:

“Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome him. Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore of the world they speak, and the world heareth them. We are of God. He that knoweth God, heareth us. He that is not of God, heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (John 1, Chap. 4, 1-6)

On October 4, we celebrate the feast of St. Francis and on the 7th Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Hildegard of Bingen Doctor of the Church:  between these two noble dates we will witness something we would have never wanted to see.  But we know that we are in the midst of the Passion of the Church, with all its painful consequences and the Faith (for which an entire year of reflection and prayer will be dedicated starting on October 11), is suffering frightful blows. It is comforting to know that neither St. Francis nor St. Hildegard would have been invited as speakers and they would have never participated anyway, even as spectators, in this sad and disquieting spectacle.

 Source: RISCOSSA CRISTIANA, Thursday September 27, 2012. [Translation and tip: Contributor Francesca Romana]

*Translator’s note

In another article by Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro on the same theme, they describe the participants at this event as “the  lay intelligentsia” and to the reader  “You will be lucky to find even one Catholic here.”   For those who read Italian see: CON IL CORTILE DEI GENTILI, AD ASSISI VA IN SCENA LA “TEOLOGIA DEL DUBBIO 2.0” - di Alessandro Gnocchi – Mario Palmaro

Cristina Siccardi , born in Turin in 1966, married with 2 children, with degrees in Modern Literature and History, has written for the following newspapers :  La Stampa, L’Osservatore Romano, Avvenire, La Gazzetta del Piemonte, Il Nostro Tempo, La Voce del Popolo and has participated in Italian radio and television programmes. She writes for  cultural and religious periodicals and is a member of “Accademie ‘Paestum’ ‘Costantiniana’ ‘Ferdinandea’, “Archeologica Italiana”, and  member founder of CESCOR (Centro Studi sulla Controrivoluzione) (Center for Studies on the Counter-Revolution


  1. Children-of-the-World ManipleMonday, October 1, 2012 at 4:23:00 PM GMT

    A big fat waste of time and money when everything is said and done.

  2. The Roman hierarchy support this at the highest levels.

  3. Yet the SSPX have to accept this religious relativism and indifferentism nonsense to get "regularized"!
    Lord help us.

  4. In another article by Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro on the same theme, they describe the participants at this event as “the lay intelligentsia” and to the reader “You will be lucky to find even one Catholic here.”

    A minute of Googling points to Alex Zanotelli being a priest and Enzo Bianchi also being Catholic. I didnb't even search all the names. And of course the ecclesiastics who are the "headliners". But since the whole point is that it's a dialogue of believers and unbelievers it's puzzling to object, "but there are unbelievers invited!"

    The VIS has an article summarizing the themes of the meetings:

    "But St. Francis has nothing whatever to do with this very secular and relativist enterprise, banner of the religion - which is – non-religion. God, for St. Francis, was not at all unknown"

    I suppose the writer would have shouted down St. Paul on the Areopagus.

  5. @Samuel Howard,

    St. Paul preached Christ crucified on the Areopagus.

    The point people are trying to make is that there is a large difference between St. Paul's or St. Francis's evangelization and a modern academic conference. The Courtyard of the Gentiles appears to be modeled on the latter. Here are the themes to be discussed:

    "Work, business and responsibility", "Contemplation and meditation", "Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for peace", "Young people, between faith and nihilism", "The cry of the earth", "Art and faith", "The cry of the poor, the world economic crisis and sustainable development"

    Perhaps one of the Catholic speakers will preach Christ crucified. But given that list of topics, it seems doubtful . . .

  6. Francjs

    I stated all the way along The SSPX will never join this modernist church and they will not. There is still a long way to go. Bishop Fellay has had to learn a sharp lesson there. There is no change at The Vatican as they know perfectly well that their post-conciliar ecumenical and interreligious policies are a fundamental change from the pre-conciliar position.

  7. St Francis, St Clare, St Maximilien Kolbe and St Pio of Pietrelcina have all been abducted by the modernist reginme and effectively silenced. They have done the same to Pope St Pius X because he knew them intimately in their thoughts and in their dangerous attitudes for The Church. Can we deny this today?
    Again, to read the works of popes is to know them and in this way currently there are no surprises. However, this cannot be called "tradition" because it just is not.

  8. Sad to say it, but this is what the Church has become. It's not a matter of this (and other related nonsense) being incidents or oddities. This is the present-day Catholic Church. This is the devolution and the deconstruction of the Roman Church.

    Yes, Christ will always be with the Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her, but the form and construct of Church we have up until today has been upheld for nearly two thousand years by those those who cherished it. What we have now is from those whom no longer care, whom wish to have a deformed, distorted Church made in the image and likeness of psychosis, not Divine Truth.

  9. Samuel,
    When St. Francis met with the sultan of Egypt his goal was to try to convert the sultan, and his army, to the One True God which is the Blessed Trinity, and to the One True faith/Church which is Catholicism/The Catholic Church. Same as St. Paul's at the Areopagus. These great Saints were concerned with the salvation of the pagans with which they were talking to, unlike the conciliar church who's goal is to have useless and never ending dialogue with pagans, heathens and the world to have some "mutual understanding" and reach some agreement on "truth". The truth is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who is the One Messiah, Lord and Savior in who alone (along with His bride the Catholic Church) there is salvation. Anything short of telling these "non believers" that their souls are in eternal jeopardy if they don't believe in and convert to the Triune God, be Baptized and convert to Catholicism is a waste of time, because it will be a modernist and worldly endeavor and not a Divine one.

  10. They'll probably be implementing VII.

    This "Courtyard of the Gentiles" and VII are equivalent to the story of Judas the Maccabee when he entered into negotiation and compromise with the Roman Empire (i.e. even after God had previously giving him the strength to lead a successful revolt against foreign powers by depending on God instead of men.) I wonder how it worked out for Judas the Maccabee?

  11. By Father George Rutler

    On October 4, we give thanks for one of the best known and least known of all saints. Least known, that is, because Francis of Assisi was not a garden gnome, or a doe-eyed hippy skipping with animals and hugging trees. Garden gnomes do not bear the Stigmata of Christ's wounds. A vegetarian? He berated a friar for wanting to abstain from meat on a feast day and said that on Christmas he would “smear the wall with meat.” An iconoclast? He was meticulous in the ceremonials of the Mass, insisting that every sacred vessel and vestment be the best, and his Rule dismissed any friar who parted from the Pope on the slightest article of Faith. A pacifist? He joined the Fifth Crusade, simmering ever since eleven thousand Muslims had invaded Rome and desecrated the tombs of Peter and Paul in the year 846. Francis went to North Africa in 1219 to convert the Muslims and confronted Sultan al Malik al-Kamil, who had just slaughtered five thousand Christians at Damietta. Francis fearlessly told the Sultan: “It is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship.” While counsellors called for the beheading of Francis according to Muslim law, the Sultan was so taken with the humility of Francis that he only had him beaten, chained and imprisoned, and then he released him.

    We are engaged in similar challenges today. Of course, we are aware of the crisis in the Middle East, but the strife is worldwide. Consider Nigeria, whose Catholic population in the last century has soared to nearly twenty million. Last week, under Muslim pressure, the government stopped the Eternal Word Television Network from broadcasting. I have worked with this worldwide Catholic network for twenty-five years and have many Nigerian friends. Two days after the Nigerian bishops objected to this censorship, a Catholic church was destroyed by Muslims, who killed and wounded many worshipers. This seems to be under the radar of our own government and the mainstream media.

    May Saint Francis be our model in how to deal with the threats of our own day: not enfeebled by sentimentality and relativism, but armed with a Franciscan zeal for the conversion of souls. We may not have Francis’ charm, but we have in our hearts and churches the same God. By the way, the popular “Prayer of Saint Francis,” which begins, “Make me a channel of your peace,” was actually the work of an anonymous author who published it in France in 1912. Its vague theology and lack of mention of Christ, express a semi-Pelagian heresy unworthy of the Saint of Assisi. Let the last words of the real Saint of Assisi be our guide: “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.”

  12. I know that Catehdra of Unbelievers was not intended to be funny - but it is very funny and reads as though it was lifted from a Monty Python script.

    When I read this post (Thanks N.C. for posting it) the theatre in my mind replayed the Python sketch of the Election results with "The Silly Party."

    I mean, seriously, who can take this seriously?

    This program deserves our disgust, derision, ridicule, and laughter. Were I living in Italy, I'd show-up and laugh loudly until they dragged me out of there.

  13. I can't make out where this appeared, but Cristina Siccardi rocks!

  14. I am not Spartacus:

    " ... the Python sketch of the Election results with "The Silly Party."

    Tarquin Fim Tim Lim Bim Wim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuit Barrel"

    (Silly Party)

    "26, 318" ....

  15. God is known, his Son is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit proceeds from them both. End of story. Next!


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