First organized by Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor John Paul II in 1986, the interfaith meeting of hundreds of world religion leaders including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists, Jains and other religious leaders was held earlier this week by Pope Benedict XVI who, for the first time ever, invited four atheist humanists to join the talks which must have been super awkward considering the Pope’s currently controversial stances on secularism and condoms, but sure why not.
The four atheist humanists and intellectuals included Mexican philosopher Guillermo Hurtado, Austrian economist Walter Baier, French theorist and writer Julia Kristeva and Italian philosopher Remo Bodei.
The meeting was held in Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Such meetings ever since the day of John Paul II have been frowned upon by the more conservative and fundamentalist Catholics including some cardinals who do not like the idea of “mixing religions”.
After the meeting concluded, the Pope complimented the Jewish representatives as being “close brothers of the faith” while thanking all those who came.
The Pope even directly addressing the four atheist individuals saying that he was “grateful to those who represent people of good will who follow no religious tradition but are committed to the search for truth.”
In concluding the meeting, the Pope emphasized the importance of peace and justice and how all the leaders gathered should strive to work for a better world.
(Cover Photo: Giampiero Sposito/REUTERS)