Xavier Gravend-Tirole

Study program:
Ph.D. Theology and Science of Religion
Current affiliation:
University of Montreal and University of Lausanne

Xavier studies how a new interfaith framework could fruitfully address issues related to identity, relationships with others and religious pluralism.

Creolization as a new theological category in the anthropology of believing: study inspired by Hindu-Christians cases

This study examines a few Hindu-Christian communities that have developed Indian spirituality within a Christian religious context to document a phenomenon that has been generally neglected (if not outright condemned) by a number of religious authorities. The study's hypothesis is that 'creolization' goes beyond interreligious (intellectual) dialogue and inculturation (which relates to culture and works in only one direction) and legitimizes the idea of being nourished by two or more religious traditions. The goal is to reflect on contemporary religious recomposition in a way that will be constructive and beneficial for the future.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Xavier Gravend-Tirole decided to take the scenic route from Montreal to Montreal. His world tour to a series of sacred sites was one of the most memorable experiences of his life. Witnessing the many ways that people express their spirituality, Xavier was deeply astonished by the types of spiritual creolization he encountered.

His dissertation explores how creolization can become fertile theological grounds for examining identity, relationships with the other and religious pluralism. Managing pluralism may be one of the greatest challenges for religions today – both within religions themselves and in their relations with other religions – but the many types of creolized religions that arise from pluralism face even greater problems being recognized at their true worth. The sullied, the contaminated, the syncretic and the impure are still widely vilified by religious institutions. And yet while the logic of purity may provide dangerous fodder for different types of fundamentalism, other novel, alternative or liberal ways of being religious are coming to light that merit recognition, whether or not they are emerging from within traditional institutional frameworks.

Inspired by figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu and Dom Elder Camara, Xavier is beginning to see himself as a public intellectual – striving to think like a man of action and act like a man of thought – and remains convinced that religion can create brotherhood, humanity, generosity and esteem for the other.  For unlike the appalling noise of war, peace is above all quiet and discreet… 

Xavier is also regularly asked to voice his opinion in the print media, on the radio and on television, about major religious events in the news, and to speak at conferences on religious, cultural and societal relations.

External publications