CITER aims to organize, promote and disseminate research work in Religious Studies Area, namely theology, religious sciences and other areas that investigate the object of religion. While theology focuses on exegetical studying the sources of religious codes and critical hermeneutics of the contexts in which they are received, sciences of religion seek to interpret religious phenomena on the basis of cultural studies and the social and human sciences more generally. In recognizing this methodological distinction, CITER respects the scientific independence of both disciplines, as well as creating the environment for dialogue with other areas.
Using different theories and methods, theology and sciences of religion, which are independent but cooperative, enable multi-dimensional analyses of religious institutions and the social, cultural and political effects of religion. Given that the two disciplines do not differ in their research aims, but rather in questions of research, method and, above all, viewpoint (internal or external), it is hoped that the parallel multi- and interdisciplinary approach of theology and religious studies will have a synergetic effect. Since this approach emerges from a methodological differentiation between the two disciplines, it offers an enhanced capacity for describing the broad religious plurality and growth of secular values in a traditionally Catholic country, such as Portugal.
By respecting this scientific independence, religious studies from different areas will avoid becoming some form of ‘ancilla theologiae'. As a result, the two disciplinary fields will interconnect in a significant manner and provide complementary knowhow and knowledge.
Each researcher will thus contribute to the excellence of CITER and to the execution of its strategic program through the development of research projects, national and international scientific publications, as well as promoting the dissemination of knowledge in the Religious Studies Area, through various types of academic meetings, and promoting cooperation with other Portuguese institutions and with foreign scientific and cultural institutions that share the same objectives.