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Vatican reaches out to atheists

The Vatican is reaching out to atheists with a series of series of encounters and debates aimed at fostering intellectual dialogue and introducing nonbelievers to God, officials said Friday.

The initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture kicks off in Paris next week with panel discussions by academics, diplomats, intellectuals and clergy at UNESCO's headquarters, the Sorbonne and the French Institute.

The initiative, "Courtyard of the Gentiles," refers to the area in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem that was reserved for nonbelievers who wanted to learn about Judaism. Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009 that he thought the Catholic Church should open a new "Courtyard of the Gentiles" so nonbelievers could get to know God.

More at The Canadian Press
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