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No. 50 • January - June 2010 • Page 165
 •  Initiatives

Estoril, Portugal -- Christian consistency in a pluralistic society

The Associação Cultural das Areias, in Estoril, Portugal, organized a series of conferences between January and April 2010 on various questions of current timeliness in the Portuguese national discussion: “Christianity and secularism,” “Education for character,” and “Marriage and homosexuality.” The series also included a talk entitled “From the Jesus of history to the Christ of faith,” aimed at penetrating the thought of Benedict XVI, who in a few weeks was to visit Portugal. The conferences were held in the Cascais Cultural Center, with an average attendance of a hundred people. Each conference was followed by a lively discussion.

The first conference took place on January 22, with two presentations on marriage and homosexuality by the co-authors of the book: Matrimonio homosexual: por qué no? (Homosexual Marriage, why not?), Father Gonçalo Portocarrero de Alamada and Judge Pedro Vaz Patto. On February 19, Professor João Araújo discussed character formation and stressed the need for the active role of parents and teachers in the education of the youngest children, fleeing from the posture of the “passive spectator.”

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, university professor and television commentator, gave the closing conference on April 23. In light of the upcoming centenary of the Republic (in October 2010), he spoke on the theme “Christianity and secularism.” Reflecting on the relation between spiritual and temporal power throughout history, he defended the thesis that religious freedom is not only freedom to worship but also freedom to live out all the consequences of one’s faith. He explained that Christianity is a path of salvation traveled “with others and for others,” with consequences in the public arena, and therefore it cannot be reduced to a merely private question. He also pointed out that the pontificate of Benedict XVI has strongly confronted the challenge of relativism at a high intellectual level.

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