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wSaturday, February 08, 2003


VATICINIUM EX EVENTU: Former blogger Amy Welborn opines on the new Vatican document on the New Age movement/religion/whatever. Herewith is my summary of her summary:

Welborn argues that the tone of this missive is more conciliatory than in the past and proves it by opening with two quotes. The first is from Pope Pius IX's famous anti-modernist broadside the Syllabus of Errors, which condemned what passed for the New Age movement in 1864 as "the synagogue of Satan" which sought to "submit the Church of God to the most cruel servitude, to undermine the foundations on which it rests, to contaminate its splendid qualities; and, moreover, to strike it with frequent blows, to shake it, to overthrow it, and, if possible, to make it disappear completely from the earth." The second is from our present document, which admonishes the faithful to try to "understand the often-silent cry in people's hearts, which leads them elsewhere if they are not satisfied by the Church."

Some have called the document (official title, "Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the 'New Age'") too accommodationist, and Welborn understands this critique. She thinks that the use of a lyric from Hair "as evidence," as well as two chapter headings that take their titles from Beatles and Beach Boys songs, was "rather unfortunate." Such selections "give an otherwise thoughtful document just the slightest whiff of lameness, like the intense 50-year old trying hard to get down with it."

However: "No matter what some might lead you to think, the Vatican’s recent document on 'New Age movements' is no sell-out." Welborn claims that it does a good job of outlining the New Age phenomenon ("hardly anything - from angels to channeling--is left out") and contrasting it with Christianity. (She quotes from it at length from the document but, sloth that I am, I zeroed in on her comments.)

But: That doesn't make it a perfect document. She criticizes it for neglecting Wicca and for failing to outline a concrete response that could be employed by mission minded Catholics. She also complains that it neglects fuzzy ideas of spirituality. The notion that "the only good place to find spirituality is outside religious traditions...needs a vigorous thrashing, and it’s not here." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:18 AM