Rectors Ask for Manual on Interreligious Dialogue

Cardinal Arinze Returns From Cameroon Meeting

VATICAN CITY, APR. 5, 2001 ( Seminary rectors in sub-Saharan Africa have asked the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to prepare a manual on dealings with followers of Islam and traditional African religions.

The request came at a five-day study session in Cameroon, attended by Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the pontifical council, as well as representatives of the episcopates of French-speaking sub-Saharan countries. Rectors of major seminaries and Catholic universities and institutes also attended.

A similar meeting on interreligious dialogue was held two years ago in Kenya, for English-speaking African countries.

As regards relations with Muslims, Cardinal Arinze said, it is “necessary to underline that different situations exist. … For example, in Sierra Leone, relations between Christians and Muslims are very good, despite the war. But there are also countries where tensions are evident, as is the case in some areas of northern Nigeria.”

Several northern Nigerian states have adopted Shariah — Islamic law — despite the significant percentage of Christians in their populations.

“As regards relations with the traditional African religion,” Cardinal Arinze said, “… it is necessary to give special attention to this religion, because the traditional African religion is the religious and cultural context of the majority of African Christians, in which many of them still live.”

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