Spanish theologian and member of the Latin American Network of the Study of Sects, Luis Santamaria del Reio, said this week the self-proclaimed “Argentinean Parliament of Religions (PAR),” which bills itself is a platform for inter-religious dialogue, is in reality a conglomerate of sects, including groups as dangerous as the Unification Church, more popularly known as the Moonies.
“In addition to Eastern groups, spiritists and New Agers, [PAR] brings together schismatics from the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, as well as from other Christian confessions,” Santamaria said, noting that the group uses “the Argentinean hierarchy, and especially the Pope,” as instruments for its agenda.
The Spanish theologian warned that PAR takes advantage of the different religious groups and organizations “in order to appear as a religious movement on par with the great spiritual traditions.”
PAR’s leadership is made up of a curious arrangement. The president of the group is Miguel Angel Libre, a Catholic, its vice president is the Baptist pastor Dario Martinez, and its general secretary is Mahatma Krishananda Ji, who promotes the doctrine of Amma in Argentina.
Santamaria said the “very special link between the PAR and the Unification Church” is “not a coincidence, but rather something organic and official.” Other sects that make up the Parliament include the Brahma Kumaris, as well as a host of Eastern-based religions.
Another member of the PAR is the so-called Byelorussian Slavic Orthodox Church of Argentina. In one of its ceremonies, Santamaria explained, “communion is distributed to the leaders of PAR, even if they are not baptized members of the church. This is a curious way of welcoming the non-Orthodox and is unique among those who profess to be members of Orthodoxy.”
Schismatic Catholics groups are also listed as members of the PAR, some of which adopt confusing names for their denominations. On its website, Santamaria said, “the PAR displays a blessing by Pope Benedict XVI,” supposedly proving the Pope’s support for the entity. A closer look at the document reveals it was actually a letter signed by Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, Apostolic Nuncio to Argentina, in which the Pope imparts his blessing to a group of trade union workers.
Santamaria said one of the clear objectives of PAR is to influence lawmakers in Argentina to pass laws on religious practice that are more favorable to its members.