Why the Courtyard of the Gentiles



“God has truly become for many the great unknown.  But just as in the past, when behind the many images of God the question concerning the unknown God was hidden and present, so too the present absence of God is silently besieged by the question concerning him.  Quaerere Deum – to seek God and to let oneself be found by him, that is today no less necessary than in former times.  A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences.  What gave Europe’s culture its foundation – the search for God and the readiness to listen to him – remains today the basis of any genuine culture.”

(Speech at the Meeting with representatives from the world of culture at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris, September 2008)

“The danger for the western world – to speak only of this – is that today, precisely because of the greatness of his knowledge and power, man will fail to face up to the question of the truth. This would mean at the same time that reason would ultimately bow to the pressure of interests and the attraction of utility, constrained to recognize this as the ultimate criterion.”

(Lecture of the Holy Father Benedict XVI for his visit to La Sapienza University of Rome, January 2008)


"Relativism", "crisis of truth", "collapse of ethics", are  many expressions that indicate the malaise of contemporary society. The crisis of culture is manifested in the absence of references, in a feeling of emptiness. Substitutes carrying only a fleeting happiness are often proposed to man. Sometimes it seems that the society has no real support, to the point that many take refuge in the virtual world when a reality without depth is not able to give them satisfaction.

Very often the great questions about the meaning of life and its value are no longer at the Centre of human existence. It is this desire for truth, of meaning, that the Courtyard of the Gentiles, a free parentheses of silence and of dialogue in the social space would like to arouse.  Man is driven by desires and this inner force that leads him to seek a better thing cannot be ignored, and rather must be considered seriously.


The dividing line of the Courtyard of the Gentiles has currently shifted. The Apostle Paul of Tarsus proclaimed that Christ had come to "break down the wall that separates" men and beliefs, Jews and Gentiles, and to seek the unity of the human race.

Now the word "Gentiles" is largely an "internal" category. The limit is no longer between those who believe and those who do not believe in God, but between those who want to defend man and life, the humanity of man, and those who want to suffocate them through utilitarianism, which could be material or even spiritual.

Is the frontier not between those who recognize the gift of culture and history, of grace and gratuity, and those who found everything on the cult of efficiency, be it science or sacral?

The Courtyard of the Gentiles calls for the sharing of a common thirst in a universal, comprehensive, Catholic perspective: the opening to each other as dynamism of human life.

The value of the courtyard appears above in faces that live in it, in the identities of those who give it life, in respectful encounters, in sincere dialogue and in a passionate search.

This respectful openness to the other can promote the same commitment towards reason, with the idea of promoting a dynamic and fruitful creator.