Islam, Sects and Indifference Face Scrutiny

Aid to the Church in Need Is Organizing a Congress

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ROME, SEPT. 6, 2001 ( An upcoming congress on the Church´s pastoral challenges will focus on three of the biggest problems today.

The three are the spread of Islam in Africa and Europe; the growth of non-Catholic religious movements and sects, especially in Latin America; and religious indifference in the West.

Aid to the Church in Need is organizing the international congress on «The Pastoral Challenges of the Third Millennium» at its headquarters in Königstein, Germany, from Sept. 28-30.

The first day will be dedicated to Christian-Muslim relations in areas such as Europe, especially Bosnia; and Turkey, Algeria, Sudan and the Middle East. Archbishop Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo and Egyptian Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir will be among those on hand.

The second day will focus on new religious movements and sects. Speakers will include Massimo Introvigne, director of the European Center of Studies on New Religions.

The third day will focus on the Catholic response to religious indifference, giving special attention to the birth of new ecclesial movements. Cardinal Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will be among the participants.

Aid to the Church in Need, an association of pontifical right, was established in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten. This group collects $70 million a year, from 600,000 benefactors worldwide, to finance 7,000 annual projects of assistance to Catholic communities in more than 130 countries.

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