Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered the inaugural John Henry Newman lecture at the University of Oxford on Sunday. The subject of his lecture was: The Timelessness of speaking about God. During his talk, the Cardinal said Cardinal Newman was the most important forerunner of ecumenism influencing Catholic doctrine in the twentieth century. Touching on similar themes to those of the Westminster Cathedral lectures, he referred to Professor Dawkins' philosophy as "heavy handed"and the "atheism delusion". He also spoke of the challenges facing the western world, pointing out that Muslims did not respect what they saw as Western society's lack of lack of religious belief. Universal peace required religious peace, he said. Today there seemed to be "a religiosity without God", which was often individualistic and narcissitic. However, he said God was "respectable " once more and religion was not declining but burgeoning in spite of atheistic and anti- religious propaganda. He urged Christians to work together with other faiths and testify to a triune God of love, stressing the importance of a new understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity "in acknowledging "the otherness of the other" - words which the Archbishop of Canterbury had also used in his lecture at Westminster Cathedral. Afterwards there was a reception at Blackfriars Hall attended by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and other invited guests who had attended the lecture. Arriving Sunday evening he stayed at St.Benets' Hall for two nights. The Cardinal said he particularly enjoyed his visit to Magdalen College, where he was shown around the college by Rev Dr Michael Pieret, Dean of Divinity at Magdalen. He attended Choral Evensong at the college chapel on Sunday evening and gave the blessing. On Monday Cardinal Kasper met students at St.Benets Hall, Franciscans at Greyfriars and theology students at the Theology Faculty before a seminar with Oxford academics and college chaplains. He also visited Christ Church and the Bodleian library before giving his lecture at St.John's College. The lecture was sponsored by the Catholic Herald. He left early on Tuesday morning to fly back to Rome to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury who is visiting the Pope.
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