Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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The effort to unite different doctrines and practices, especially in religion. Such unions or amalgams are part of cultural history and are typical of what has occurred in every segment of the non-Christian world. Syncretism is also applied to the ecumenical efforts among separated Christian churches and within Catholicism to the attempts made of combining the best elements of different theological schools. But in recent years the term mainly refers to misguided claims that religious unity can be achieved by ignoring the differences between faiths on the assumption that all creeds are essentially one and the same. (Etym. Greek synkrētizo, to unite disunited elements into a harmonious whole; from synkrētizmos, federation of Cretan cities.)