VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Religious and nonreligious people today must learn to engage in fair and objective dialogue so that they may unite the world and make it better as a whole, a young atheist said.
Sandro Bucher, a delegate from Switzerland, said the pre-synod meeting of young people taking place in Rome is not just an opportunity for the church to listen to young Catholics and Christians but also a chance for them to understand and work together with their nonreligious peers.
Speaking to journalists at the Vatican press office March 22, Bucher said that, as a representative of nonreligious young people worldwide, the experience of interacting with young adults from different religions and cultures was a “really positive” step toward building a bridge between believers and nonbelievers.
“I learned so much about different cultures, different religions, and they learned a lot from me,” he said. “I am very optimistic about the future of the church to be more open.”
Bucher is one of the 305 young adults participating in a weeklong meeting designed to allow practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world’s bishops, who will meet at a synod in October to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.”
When he announced the pre-synod meeting last October, Pope Francis said it would be an opportunity for the church to listen to the hopes and concerns of “young Catholics, young Christians from other denominations or other religions and young nonbelievers.”
Bucher said he was moved by the openness of the young Christian delegates who listened to his perspective as an atheist.
“The best was that everyone was very keen on what I had to say, what people from the outside had to say, and they were all really kind,” he said. “So, you have no shame to talk about things. They were really accepting.”
The young Swiss delegate said he was surprised that, for many of the young delegates attending, it was their first time “speaking with someone with a nonreligious background.”
“‘Where do I get my morals from?’ for example, was the first question they asked,” Bucher told Catholic News Service. “I told them that it’s built upon human rights and ethical values and just that I think we should connect with each other, even if we are nonbelievers or believers.”
Bucher said that while he could not “speak for the church” about questions relating to evangelization or the liturgy, he focused his participation at the pre-synod meeting to strengthening dialogue.
In his native Switzerland, Bucher said he often engages in conversations with “a lot of clerics,” as well as his Catholic and Evangelical friends and that the pre-synod meetings encouraged him to continue along the path of dialogue.
“I think it’s very important because now I have more things that I know about the Catholic Church, and Catholics know more about nonbelievers. This is very important,” he said.
“It’s really important that this pre-synod happened, and it’s really one of the most important things I have had in my life,” he said.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103