Spain. With the title “Religion in the modern societies. Secularity and Secularism” the XI symposium of the Claret Foundation was celebrated on March 28, 2009. It was celebrated for the first time in the “Pere Casaldáliga Hall” a multipurpose space located in the Claret Bookshop of Barcelona, which is becoming an important reference place.
The Symposium counted on the participation of the theologian Marciano Vidal, who presented a perspective on the theme of the neutrality of the State and the public presence of the Christians. Next, the sociologist Fernando Vidal, of Comillas University (Madrid) tackled the theme from a more sociological and cultural viewpoint under the title “Cultural change, religion and secularity.” In the afternoon it was the turn for Jordi López Camps, who has been director of religious Affairs of the Generalitat de Catalonia. He dealt with the theme “The government’s action and the religions”, from the side of public administration. The Symposium ended with a round table, moderated by the journalist Monte Girbau, in which the dialogue revolved around the secularity in three important social aspects: health, education and the social communication media. Fr. Màxim Muñoz, Provincial of Catalonia, made the presentation and the closing.There was a numerous participation of public, which gave a very positive evaluation of the act. The most repeated ideas were: that neither society nor its rulers can ignore that the personal and institutional religious experience has a very great importance in the whole of society; that this experience cannot be limited to the private sphere, but has the right and the duty of contributing to the construction of a more human, just and caring society, from the viewpoint of its tradition and wisdom. It should do it, of course, from the respect for the plurality of convictions and beliefs and for the norms of democratic living together, creating consensus rather than divisions, proposing rather than imposing, including rather than excluding, giving testimony of what is believed rather than demanding privileges. On their part, the governments should understand the secularity as neutrality in the face of the different beliefs and non-beliefs, but not in the sense of preventing any expression or public participation, but from the respect, the positive evaluation and the collaboration. This is what has come to be known as “positive” or “inclusive” secularity or neutrality.
In short: a Symposium that contributed a little light and guidance in a complex but very important theme.