TED Conference Comes to the Vatican

International Meeting Will Discuss Religious Freedom in Today’s World

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What started as an annual conference for people who wanted to share ideas has now become one of the most visited websites in the world. Now the famous conference is coming to the Vatican.

On April 19, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture will open «TEDxViadellaConciliazione», a global meeting which discuss religious freedom in today’s world.

ZENIT spoke with Giovanna Abbiati, the curator of the conference to find out more about the upcoming event. 

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ZENIT:What is TED?

Abbiati: TED is an annual conference where the most brilliant people on earth gather to share ideas that worth spreading, their talks are freely posted on TED website to be shared by millions all around the world.

ZENIT:Why TEDx and the Catholic Church?

Abbiati: Being a catholic means having a universal spirit. The mission of the Church has always been to testimony  the spiritual encounter of the divine  with the human being.

The resources coming out from this encounter has to be spread! But how? With  all the languages we know, so that everybody can understand. One of the new languages we have in common in  contemporary world is  digital language. Through digital language TED  spread ideas, we want to learn how to use this connective power and  spread also spiritual resources.

ZENIT: Why did you choose the theme religious freedom today?

This theme is important if we want to talk about peace. This is the scenario:  in secularized society  often signs of religion are banned in working places,  religious symbols hidden. In other countries restriction of religion is very high. Pew  Research Center reports that more than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third of the world’s population – live in the 23 countries with increasing government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion. Why do we fear religion? We should only fear fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism is a perversion of religion. Violence is not religion, to perform violence in the name of religion is not religion.

ZENIT: What do you hope to achieve with “TEDxviadellaConciliazione”?

Abbiati: We want to reaffirm that religious freedom is a fundamental human right. First of all it is an aspiration of the soul. Religious freedom consists in the protection of all men and women from coercion of  one’s conscience. Second: through religion we discover who we are, we discover values and the respect of this values. Genuine religion has a  full role in society to make our world a world of justice and peace. All religions have the  common responsibility to humanity and the world.


Abbiati: Do you want to transform society? Don’t marginalize! Start from your community. Your community can be your neighbor, your brother. Take care of the vulnerable, the old, the widow, the stranger then try to make a chain, look for followers. Second (this requires all the force  that faith can give): love in hate, love in fights, love in forgiveness, love as God’s love, love the prisoners, love the dying person.

To realize these challenge is hard, the very important thing is that they don’t have stay  to the table or only to the level of leadership. Start from the young people.

ZENIT: Who did you invite and why?

Abbiati: We looked for speakers able to promote unity in every field. We started from culture. We looked for single talents and visionaries  able to show us the existence of common grounds, common ideals, common predicaments, both in the religious world and in the cultural world. Soumaya Slim with the Soumaya Museum, Sheika Hussah al Salem, Sabah with Darmuseum, they promote beauty and identity through art, one in Mexico, the other in Kuwait City. Two different worlds, one goal.

Moreover we looked for people able to inspire us with their faith, look at Alicia Vacas and her great job in Holy Land,Leone Narvaez peacemaker in the FARC,Colombia,   and how society and communities can benefit of such  a strength.

ZENIT:Why the TED format?

Abbiati: In the era of sharing TED was able to spread ideas in a positive way. Watching TV , listening to Radio, exploring  the web ,  what we receive  is a negative view of the world. TED is a platform that talks to share optimism. We don’t want to say that evil does not exist, but that to talk only of darkness forgetting that the light is there, it is  so negative for the human being, it clips the wings. We’re made of flesh but our spirit is made to fly beyond!

ZENIT:What is your dream?

Abbiati: We have to learn how to co-exist—how to love. Love, not only ideas,  is what connects us all.

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Antonio Gaspari

Cascia (PG) Italia Studi universitari a Torino facoltà di Scienze Politiche. Nel 1998 Premio della Fondazione Vittoria Quarenghi con la motivazione di «Aver contribuito alla diffusione della cultura della vita». Il 16 novembre del 2006 ho ricevuto il premio internazionale “Padre Pio di Pietrelcina” per la “Indiscutibile professionalità e per la capacità discreta di fare cultura”. Il Messaggero, Il Foglio, Avvenire, Il Giornale del Popolo (Lugano), La Razon, Rai tre, Rai due, Tempi, Il Timone, Inside the Vatican, Si alla Vita, XXI Secolo Scienza e Tecnologia, Mondo e Missione, Sacerdos, Greenwatchnews. 1991 «L'imbroglio ecologico- non ci sono limiti allo sviluppo» (edizioni Vita Nuova) . 1992 «Il Buco d'ozono catastrofe o speculazione?» (edizioni Vita Nuova). 1993 «Il lato oscuro del movimento animalista» (edizioni Vita Nuova). 1998 «Los Judios, Pio XII Y la leyenda Negra» Pubblicato da Planeta in Spagna. 1999 «Nascosti in convento» (Ancora 1999). 1999 insieme a Roberto Irsuti il volume: «Troppo caldo o troppo freddo? - la favola del riscaldamento del pianeta» (21mo Secolo). 2000 “Da Malthus al razzismo verde. La vera storia del movimento per il controllo delle nascite” (21mo Secolo, Roma 2000). 2001 «Gli ebrei salvati da Pio XII» (Logos Press). 2002 ho pubblicato tre saggi nei volumi «Global Report- lo stato del pianeta tra preoccupazione etiche e miti ambientalisti» (21mo Secolo, Roma 2002). 2002 ho pubblicato un saggio nel nel Working Paper n.78 del Centro di Metodologia delle scienze sociali della LUISS (Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli di Roma) «Scienza e leggenda, l’informazione scientifica snobbata dai media». 2003 insieme a VittorFranco Pisano il volume “Da Seattle all’ecoterrorismo” (21mo Secolo, Roma 2003). 2004 ho pubblicato insieme a Riccardo Cascioli “Le Bugie degli Ambientalisti” (Edizioni Piemme). 2004 coautore con del libro “Emergenza demografia. Troppi? Pochi? O mal distribuiti?” (Rubbettino editore). 2004 coautore con altri del libro “Biotecnologie, i vantaggi per la salute e per l’ambiente” ((21mo Secolo, Roma 2004). 2006 insieme a Riccardo Cascioli “Le Bugie degli Ambientalisti 2” (Edizioni Piemme). 2008 insieme a Riccardo Cascioli il libro “Che tempo farà… Falsi allarmismi e menzogne sul clima (Piemme). 2008, è stata pubblicata l’edizione giapponese de “Le bugie degli ambientalisti” edizioni Yosensha. 2009. insieme a Riccardo Cascioli “I padroni del Pianeta – le bugie degli ambientalisti su incremento demografico, sviluppo globale e risorse disponibili” (Piemme). 2010 insieme a Riccardo Cascioli, è stato pubblicato il volume “2012. Catastrofismo e fine dei tempi” (Piemme). 2011 Questo volume è stato pubblicato anche in Polonia con l’imprimatur della Curia Metropolitana di Cracovia per le e3dizioni WYDAWNICTTWO SW. Stanislawa BM.

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