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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A display at a prominent Jesuit University showcases positive examples of those living in opposition to Catholicism.
In conjunction with the "Understanding Unbelief" conference taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from May 28–30, an exhibit showcasing a modern-day witch, humanists and a homosexual couple in a same-sex "marriage" has been placed in the main atrium of the university.
Purportedly created to show the types of "unbelievers," the description of the event claims the stories and photos are an attempt to "give an insight into the diversity of beliefs and worldviews help by people who do not believe in God or gods — ranging from humanists to communists, and from religious atheists to anti-humanists."
The conference was a joint venture between the Pontifical Council for Culture and Kent University and marks the 50th year since the first "Culture of Unbelief" conference was held in 1969. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis called for a "greater understanding" of the nonreligious mindset for the purposes of "sincere and rigorous dialogue."
Pope Paul VI's address to the first unbelief conference 50 years ago shows a direct contrast to this conference and conference and exhibit. While Pope Paul VI expressed a hopeful desire to bring the Gospel message to the unbelievers, the conference program mentions nothing of bringing unbelievers to Christ. Pope Paul VI said:
[F]or it is always Our desire to listen to those voices which express the thinking of our times, as it is ever Our desire that Our own voice should be heard — a voice which, only because of the debility and lack of skill of Our lips, may seem to be uncertain and out of tune; yet, We must add, holds within itself the sureness of the truth, and the yearning to communicate its message of hope and of life.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI warned of the degradation of religion that continues to this day:
We are protesters because we wish to raise up again the idea of God, from the degradation into which it has fallen with many men of our time, and from the fantastic, superstitious or idolatrous counterfeit which we often encounter, even in modern life, as well as from the despair, the anguish, the void, which its absence produces in the heart of man.
The conference program notes the University of Kent, John Templeton Foundation, Coventry University, Queen's University Belfast, St. Mary's University Twickenham and the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN) were all sponsors of the conference. The NSRN prioritized the research presented during the conference to "engage closely with the core themes and questions of the conference."
The conference program shows that all of the sessions focused on secular research and did not include any dialog on Catholic teaching.
The photographs exhibited in the Pontifical Gregorian University atrium were strategically placed in front of a statue of Jesus Christ that bears the inscription, "Go, teach to all nations. Behold, I am with you," a fact that did not escape the attention of seminarians and lay students who were scandalized by the exhibit.
LifeSiteNews reported on the reactions of the seminarians who were disappointed in the University's inclusion of "virtue signaling."
Continuing, he said:
We want universities — especially Catholic universities — to be places with free and open discussion of ideas. But every university has a mission and core values. We know there are some things that would never be entertained as valid perspectives in an exhibition — such as a person describing why he holds racist views. So it is unclear why the university would promote an exhibition that includes such things as a wiccan who practices "chaos magic" and "advocates for human extinction."
One theology student noted, "As a student at a Pontifical university, one expects an atmosphere that is conducive to such studies, it's a scandal to treat the Catholic academic life in separation to Christ."
Another student explained, "The duplicity of a 'Catholic' university that juxtaposes such messages is the quintessential image of the relativism afflicting society and, unfortunately, great swaths of the Church. Why are we casting aside the Lord's beautiful words: Behold, I am with you!"
Speaking to Church Militant, one anonymous priest explained that the timing of this event coinciding with the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord is not a coincidence. He explained, "Lots of evil is playing out with the enthronement of these idols at one of the premier seminaries and the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord."
"The opposite is being proclaimed by the promotion of the New World Order and by the resurrection of ancient idols and idol worship," he added.
The Gospel readings for the extraordinary form of the Mass for the Ascension comes from Mark chapter 16 when Jesus upbraided His disciples for their hardness of heart, telling them, "Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned."