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Atheist philosopher AC Grayling turns down Assisi invitation

By on Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A C Grayling accepted the invitation from the Vatican thinking he would have a discussion with the Pope (Photo: PA)

A C Grayling accepted the invitation from the Vatican thinking he would have a discussion with the Pope (Photo: PA)

British philosopher A C Grayling has withdrawn from attending an interreligious event to promote world peace hosted by the Vatican.

Although the professor of philosophy had originally planned to attend the third “Prayer for Peace” in Assisi, Italy, he later changed his mind on discovering that it was an event for pilgrims.

Professor Grayling told The Catholic Herald: “I thought it was originally to have a discussion with the Pope about the place of religion in society but then it turned out it was a minor event and what they wanted was these guests to accompany the Pope on a pilgrimage. So I decided to withdraw.”

The invitation to Professor Grayling is surprising given his criticism of Pope Benedict XVI in the run-up to the papal visit. In May 2010 he wrote an article for the Independent entitled, “Why no Asbo for the Pope?” stating: “Is the Pope in any danger of receiving 100 hours of community service for hiding hundreds of paedophiles from the law all round the world? Is he likely to get an Asbo? Or has he been invited to the United Kingdom as an official visitor who will meet the Queen and be feted and courted, secure in the knowledge that efforts to arrest him and put him on trial for heading a huge criminal conspiracy will fail?”

Pope Benedict is reported to have invited several other prominent non-believers to the interreligious event in Assisi, in accordance with the Vatican’s “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project, which seeks to promote discussions between Christians and non-believers around the world.

Other atheists expected to attend and participate in a panel discussion include French philosopher Julia Kristeva, the Italian professor Bodei Remo and Mexico’s Guillermo Hurtado, founder of the philosophy magazine, Dianoia.

The event is due to take place next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Assisi gathering. The inaugural event took place in 1986, under Blessed John Paul II’s pontificate, and drew together many Christian denominations and members of other faiths.

  • Marc_g_pollington

    Gosh you have a lot of hate in you. In what way does atheism kill or corrupt. You appear to be saying that without belief  in your particular version of christianity, you, personally, would behave in a sadistic perverted way and it is only your belief that prevents it.
    I am and always have been an atheist and never killed or corrupted anyone.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Marc g Pollington, anyone who said that cocaine and heroine kill and corrupt would not be hating the unfortunate victims of such evils. Indeed those who do not come out and clearly state the truth cannot claim to give a damn about the victims. A loving parent tells their children the unpleasant truths also - so as to warn them of the dangers. Atheism is an evil and it is out of love that Christians say this. You see, it is impossible to have no “god.” If one doesn’t worship the one true living God, then one idolises one of his creations. Atheism is the explicit rejection of the first commandment, whereas hypocrisy and sin often result from an implicit rejection of the same commandment. As for not killing or corrupting, just consider one example of how consumerism – the number one idolatry suffered in the West operates. We have an obesity problem while a third of our fellow human beings starve to death. What is stopping all those obese people from sharing their food with their starving brothers and sisters? C S Lewis said that anything you  elevate to the station of a false god, will turn into a demon and destroy you. Some people worship food. others sex, others power. others money, and all of this destroys and ultimately kills (you can think of your own examples of how I’m sure) because idols demand sacrifice. Contrast the Christian God – “I want mercy not sacrifice.” The Christian Spirit is working in the world even through people who think they are atheists. They have just forgotten where they are coming from.

  • Anonymous

    Brian I didn’t say that atheists kill and corrupt. I said Atheism kills and corrupts.   

  • Markstables

    Simon is very bitter. He should try to understand catholic teaching. His rant is not well informed.

  • Jabagh Kazan

    Assisi invitation!! .What a joke ??

  • Christopher Pryse Hawkins

    You’re a moron.