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With ancient origins in the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest living religions. Hinduism embodies a vast array of philosophies, moral prescriptions, religious practices and societal norms. It is an incorporation of diverse traditions and has no single founder. The Vaishnava tradition is a form of Hindu devotionalism.
The Vaishnava – Christian Dialogue was convened by a group of Christian and Vaishnava scholars in 1998, including a representative of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Vaishnava participants in this dialogue include ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) as well as other Vaishnava lineages. As a monotheistic tradition, they worship Krishna (Vishnu) as the supreme transcendent divinity, emphasize the theology of the avatars (incarnations or saving “descents” of God into the material world), and nurture a strongly devotional form of worship (bhakti). The dialogue meets once a year in Potomac, Maryland to take up key issues in theology and spirituality. Although SEIA is no longer a co-convener, members of the staff participate occasionally on a personal basis.
Other periodic Hindu-Catholic Consultations are also planned for the future. Dr. Anthony Cirelli is the lead USCCB staff for Hindu-Catholic relations. A chronological history of the USCCB's Catholic-Hindu discourse can be found here.
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