When Pope John Paul II visited the Brazilian city of Manaus in July 1980, there was a slight but significant change in protocol at the last minute. Members of an Amazonian tribe had been scheduled to perform their dances for the pope, before their representatives would speak with him privately. Such performances are commonplace whenever a pontiff visits Asia or Africa. But on the initiative of the bishops of the region, the performance was cut
from the program. The clergymen felt that for the tribe to present its dances to the pope would be to trivialize the spiritual meaning the rituals
have for their performers. Such dances, the bishops reasoned, form an integral part of a cultural system whose organizing principles are religious. To allow the pope to enjoy the dances as mere entertainment would be to profane their sacred content. The president of Brazil had had the ear of the pope without first having to dance at his feet. Why not should the Indians?
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