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Vatican conference studies 'folk' religions

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue is organizing a forum in Rome this week on the contributions that folk religions make to the cause of peace. This is the first attempt at bringing together religions based on ethnic or tribal cultural traditions as opposed to world religions which cross cultural boundaries.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald (pictured), the president of the dicastery, said the purpose of this week's forum is twofold. First, it will establish lines of communication with the traditional religions-- "which is not always easy," he observed. Second, it will have a special meaning for those members of traditional cultures who have become Christians. He pointed to the example set by the Tekakwitha Conference, a group of American Indians who wish to be recognized as "authentically Catholic and authentically American Indians."

Catholic World News reports that Archbishop Fitzgerald said that the idea of this week's conference sprang from a previous meeting, in 1999, of leaders of the "world religions," at which the quest for world peace was the main topic. The new forum will bring together experts on the world's traditional religious groups, and missionaries who work with them.

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue chose to invite experts on these faiths, rather than practitioners, "for practical reasons," the archbishop said, explaining that language barriers were the major consideration. "We decided to invite experts with whom we can communicate more easily," he said.

"I cannot anticipate the results" of the conference, Archbishop Fitzgerald said.

Vatican conference studies folk religions, quest for peace (Catholic World News 13/1/05)

Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

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14 Jan 2005