Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Plural Society

The Catholic Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola, is a man of enormous energy and vision. His intense interest in education and the Church’s engagement with the modern world have given rise to a number of important initiatives over the last five years, not least the journal Oasis, published twice yearly in several languages including English and Arabic and aimed primarily at Christians in Islamic countries. Oasis is a lavish production, as yet without a distributor in the UK, containing articles and book reviews as well as important extracts from classic works by the likes of Guardini and Ratzinger. The intention behind Oasis is to foster improved understanding between Christians and Muslims.

A extension of this initiative was launched in September under the name ASSET (for “Advanced Studies Society Economy Theology”). ASSET is a research centre devoted to the interdisciplinary and international study of “the plural society” – by which is meant the postmodern collision or, better, hybridization, of multiple cultural influences. Secular liberalism pretends to value freedom whilst excluding religious hypotheses, in order to ensure that faith can only enter the debate under terms already defined by its opponents. If ASSET is to be successful, it must find a way to reintroduce both theology and the social doctrine of the Church into the public debate.

Information about ASSET and copies of Oasis will be available on the Second Spring stand at the TOWARDS ADVENT Catholic cultural festival in London on 14 November.

Picture of Venice by Oliver-Bonjoch (Wikipedia)

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