New Age Catholicism
Mary Ann Collins
The “New Age” is a mixture of old paganism and Eastern religions that have been “westernized” by dressing them up in modern vocabulary and images. It denies foundational Christian (and Catholic) doctrines. In spite of this, there are some Catholic priests and nuns who openly promote New Age beliefs and practices.
I will give documented information about this from Catholic authors. One of them is a Catholic reporter who spent over twelve years getting first-hand, eye witness information.
As we will see, there are priests and nuns who promote pagan rituals, Eastern religious practices, worship of “the goddess,” witchcraft, and “channeling” (having “spirits” speak through you). They deny foundational Christian doctrines, such as the Atonement (Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins).
If you have difficulty with the following information, I understand. So do I. But the facts won’t go away just because we don’t like them.
Randy England is Catholic. He wrote “The Unicorn in the Sanctuary: The Impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church”. According to England, New Age concepts are taught at retreats, prayer workshops, and educational conferences. [Note 1]
The theology of Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin opened the door for New Age concepts to come into the Catholic Church. (“Unicorn,” pages 78-95) These led to “creation-centered spirituality” and Catholic feminism, which will be discussed later. (“Unicorn,” pages 118-134).
Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk. He taught that every form of mystical experience is valid, no matter what its source. He praised Hinduism and Buddhism. Merton wanted to see the religions of the world become united. (“Unicorn,” pages 75-77)
Priests and nuns are teaching trusting Catholics to do Hindu meditation, to use visualization techniques, and to cultivate spirit guides. Randy England says that spirit guides are demons. (“Unicorn,” pages 3 and 77) If he is right, then a person who cultivates spirit guides is actually invoking demons and inviting them to control his or her life.
A Jesuit priest teaches priests, nuns and lay Catholics to do Eastern meditation, using spirit guides. Some priests and nuns teach prayer techniques which are not prayer in the Christian sense at all. Rather, they result in altered states of consciousness, and susceptibility to demonic influence. A Franciscan priest teaches Catholics to “manipulate” reality with the assistance of “spirit beings” (i.e., demons). He is especially influential with nuns. Catholics are taught that their “spirituality” will be improved by New Age techniques such as yoga, practices from Eastern religions, and transcendental meditation. Some Catholic schools no longer teach the Ten Commandments and foundational Christian doctrines like the Resurrection. Instead, they promote a non-Christian, one-world government. (“Unicorn,” pages 6-9 and 135-146)
Mitch Pacwa is a Jesuit priest who became involved in the New Age when he was in the seminary. He later renounced his New Age practices and beliefs, and wrote the book “Catholics and the New Age: How Good People Are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram, and the Age of Aquarius”.
According to Pacwa, some Catholic parishes give workshops on astrology, channeling, and the enneagram (a New Age system of personality analysis). Pacwa had extensive personal experience with the enneagram. He became proficient, and taught it to other priests. [Note 2] As a result, he understands the problems that the enneagram can cause, and he warns people about it.
During the period between 1970 and 1980 (when I was still a Catholic), I ran into three New Age things which were promoted by Catholic priests. First, a Catholic priest recommended self-hypnosis and gave me cassette tapes for doing it. Fortunately I never listened to the tapes. I have since heard that hypnosis can be spiritually harmful.
Second, some Catholic friends enthusiastically recommended that I attend a Catholic workshop on “Centering Prayer” which was given by a priest. Fortunately, I was not able to attend the workshop. I bought the priest’s book, but it seemed strange and I didn’t read much of it. I’ve learned from Randy England’s book that “Centering Prayer” is similar to Silva Meditation (also called Silva Mind Control). It involves altered states of consciousness and spirit guides. (“Unicorn,” pages 143-146)
Third, I went on a Catholic retreat which was run by priests. Much to my surprise, the psychology of Carl Jung was taught throughout the retreat. In addition, the bookstore sold books which discussed spirituality in terms that didn’t sound Christian. One of the books talked about finding “the goddess within”. According to Randy England, Jung was an occultist who had spirit guides.
In each of these situations, I had a genuine desire to be closer to God. I went to Catholic priests, looking for training in how to pray, looking for things to strengthen my spiritual life. But instead of offering me Christian things, those Catholic priests offered me New Age things, and they presented it as being normal Catholicism.
According to Randy England, Donna Steichen, and Mitch Pacwa, my experience was not unusual. Similar things have happened to many Catholics.
RADICAL CATHOLIC FEMINISTS
Donna Steichen (a Catholic journalist) wrote “Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism”. She spent twelve years getting first-hand information. Her book is based on things that she personally saw and heard, plus the writings of Catholic feminists. She is a good reporter, giving names, dates, quotations, and lots of nitty gritty details. The following information comes from her book. [Note 3]
In 1985, Mrs. Steichen attended a Conference on Women and Spirituality. (The following information is from pages 29 to 63 of “Ungodly Rage”.)
A community of teaching nuns was deeply involved. Some of the nuns gave workshops during the conference. Many of them attended the conference. They helped with preparations and they allowed attendees to stay at their educational center. Thus, the conference had a major impact on an entire community of teaching nuns.
The Catholic priest who is the chaplain of a nearby Catholic school announced the conference. He also made arrangements for transportation for women who wanted to attend it. Faculty members and students attended. Donna Steichen interviewed the priest. He had studied the program and he was aware of its nature. He approved of it.
The conference was an ecumenical event. Sixteen of the speakers were Catholics (nuns, former nuns, and laywomen). The majority of the women who attended were Catholics. They included nuns, teachers at parochial schools and Catholic colleges, staff members of Catholic counseling agencies, parish administrators, and laywomen. In other words, many attendees were women in positions of authority and influence.
Speakers promoted pagan goddess worship. A sense of victim mentality was fostered. The idea of sin was mocked. According to the speakers, the only sin is discrimination against women. Most of the workshops included pagan rituals.
Most of the speakers ignored Jesus altogether. However, one said that some people might want to retain Him as a “symbol”. She openly stated that the objective of Catholic feminism is to take over the Catholic church. And in order to do this, it needs to maintain the appearance of legitimate Catholicism.
She told women to establish covens or Women-Church groups to celebrate their own rituals. These groups would either replace traditional churches, or else be places of refuge where women who retain church affiliation would be free to share their true feelings. She said that large groups should be subdivided into groups of 13 members, because 13 is the number for a coven. (The term “coven” is usually applied to groups of witches.)
Steichen interviewed many of the attendees. None of the Catholic women saw any conflict between their Catholicism and their attendance at this conference. They even defended the worship of pagan gods and said that it does not conflict with Catholicism. Mrs. Steichen asked them if the early martyrs were wrong to face death because they refused to worship pagan gods. The women didn’t get the point. They usually responded that things are different now.
Mrs. Steichen also interviewed some Protestant women who were disturbed by the conference. I believe that if the Catholic women had been well grounded in Scripture, they would have been more cautious about accepting the teachings at that conference.
On Sunday morning, three feminist services were available for conference participants. One of them was a Wiccan ritual, which was attended by about half of the women (including Donna Steichen). As part of the ritual, the participants cast a spell. (Wicca is a religion based on witchcraft. It involves goddess worship, rituals and spells.)
After the ritual was over, Donna Steichen asked one participant if she was a nun. The woman said that she wasn’t, but she always sees a lot of nuns at these rituals.
The Catholic feminist movement grew in numbers and in influence. The next year (1986), a Women in the Church Conference was attended by 2,500 women, 85 percent of whom were nuns. (That is over two thousand nuns.)
One speaker told the women to get rid of the “false god” of Christianity and create a “God-myth” to replace it. Another speaker said that Scripture should be radically transformed in order to make it support the feminist agenda. An example of this is one speaker’s interpretation of what happened in the Garden of Eden. She said that when God banished the snake, it was patriarchy banishing the goddess. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 123-124 and 145-153)
About two hundred of the nuns who attended wore habits and veils. At first Donna Steichen thought they must not have realized the nature of the conference when they decided to come. However, she interviewed a number of them, and they all enjoyed the conference and agreed with it. One of them had been orthodox in her beliefs until she took a summer class at the University of Notre Dame a few months before the conference. As a result of that class, she became a radical feminist. (“Ungodly Rage,” page 133)
Some Catholic clergymen support the radical Catholic feminists. This conference was given under the auspices of Catholic bishops and priests. Advisors for the conference included nearly 20 bishops and 15 priests. They did not want their names to be known, presumably because of the controversial nature of the event. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 152-153)
In October 1987, A Women-Church conference was attended by 3,000 women. Most of them were Catholics. Many were nuns and former nuns who were involved in teaching, social service, or pastoral ministry. In other words, they were women in trusted positions of leadership, influence, and authority. (“Ungodly Rage,” page 154)
Some speakers promoted abortion, which is contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching about the sanctity of life. One speaker said that in order to promote their feminist religion, they need the institutional Catholic Church because it is a global power with far-reaching influence. Workshops included instruction in animism (worship of nature spirits), with rituals that were a combination of feminism and Native American practices. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 150-154 and 173-183)
One speaker said that in order for the Catholic feminist movement to survive, it must influence the next generation. Now this is a practical problem for a movement which is largely founded on nuns, because they are not supposed to have children. Therefore, in order to influence the next generation, they have to influence other people’s children. The speaker spoke of the need to create places to influence children, including schools, retreat centers, think tanks, and centers for feminist theology. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 185-186)
Much of this was already in place when Donna Steichen wrote “Ungodly Rage” in 1991. The conference participants were primarily Catholic teachers, nuns from retreat centers, and women who work with youth. In other words, they were in positions that enable them to influence Catholic children and young people. Conference participants also included women who were administrators in chancery offices and parishes. This position enables them to influence what kinds of programs, retreats, and workshops are given in Catholic parishes.
The problem here is misrepresentation. These women call themselves Catholics, but they are practicing Wicca (or other earth-based religions) in addition to (or instead of) Catholicism. They hold trusted positions of authority as Catholic teachers, counselors, or leaders at retreat centers. To claim to be a Catholic teacher, and then teach Wiccan beliefs and practices to children in Catholic schools, is fraud. (It would be equally fraudulent for a Catholic teacher to pretend to be Wiccan, and teach Catholicism in a Wiccan school.)
One of the speakers was a Carmelite nun who founded the Association of Contemplative Sisters. She said that although these contemplative nuns started out being “God oriented,” they later changed their focus to “mysticism and feminism”. They incorporated pagan traditions into their worship and meditation. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 182-183)
You can see a description of a Women-Church Conference online, complete with quotations and a description of the pagan ritual. [Note 4] This conference was held on April 20, 1996, at Emmanuel College (a Catholic college in Boston). Starhawk (a witch) led a pagan ritual dedicated to “the goddess.”
A nun teaches Silva Mind Control, including giving classes on astral projection and “spirit messages”. (“Ungodly Rage,” page 342)
There is a conference called “Womenspirit Rising” which includes workshops on reincarnation, “the goddess within,” the use of crystals, and channeling. Womenspirit Rising was given at the provincial motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. (“Ungodly Rage,” page 342)
A Catholic college that is run by nuns invited the Womenspirit Rising conference to their college twice in the same year. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 106-107) Catholic parents who sacrificed to send their children to this Catholic college probably did not expect to have them be trained in channeling and goddess worship.
Two people who have had a significant influence on the Catholic feminist movement are Matthew Fox and Rosemary Ruether. Fox will be discussed later
Ruether is a well known Catholic feminist theologian. Her books include “Gaia & God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing,” and “Religious Feminism and the Future of the Planet: A Christian-Buddhist Conversation”.
The following information about Matthew Fox comes from chapter 6 of Randy England’s book, “The Unicorn in the Sanctuary”. The title of the chapter is “Woman Church, Witchcraft, and the Goddess”. [Note 5]
As a Dominican priest, Matthew Fox promoted Wicca, paganism, and goddess worship in the Catholic Church. For years he told trusting Catholic priests, nuns, and lay people that the Holy Spirit wants them to adopt these practices.
The Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality was founded by Fox. It is located at Holy Names College (a Catholic college run by nuns). Staff members of the Institute included a practicing witch named Starhawk, a voodoo priestess, a shaman (an animist who worships nature spirits), and a Jungian psychologist. Starhawk is the high priestess of a witches’ coven. The Institute has developed a Catholic liturgy that is based on Wiccan sources.
Matthew Fox denies the existence of sin, with one exception. He says that it is sinful to fail to embrace the New Age.
The following information about Matthew Fox comes from the article “Catholicism for the New Age: Matthew Fox and Creation-Centered Spirituality” by Mitchell Pacwa (a Catholic priest). Information about Fox’s organizations comes from web sites and phone conversations. [Note 6]
Fox is the founder, president, and editor-in-chief of a magazine called “Creation.” You can get some idea of what he believes by the art work in his magazine. The July/August, 1991 issue of “Creation” featured a picture of Jesus Christ, naked, seated in a lotus position, with antlers on his head. The May/June, 1992 issue featured a picture titled “The Qetzalcoatl Christ”. It showed the Aztec snake god with the face of Jesus Christ.
Matthew Fox is a popular speaker with great influence. He denies original sin and redemption. He says that we need to “embark on a quest for the Cosmic Christ” and in order to do this, we need to stop seeking the “historical Jesus”.
Fox teaches that people of all religions should be united at “a mystical level”. He openly promotes witchcraft, shamanism, astrology, and pagan religions. He praises the writings of the witch Starhawk, and her vision of a revival of goddess worship.
Fox says that Christianity that focuses on Jesus Christ as personal Savior is “antimystical” and opposed to a “Cosmic Christ” Christianity.
In 1991, Fox was ordered to leave his Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality (in Oakland, California) and return to Chicago, or else be dismissed by his religious order. He refused, left the Catholic Church, and became an Anglican priest. He founded the University of Creation Spirituality (also located in Oakland) and is its president. Fox, Starhawk, and the voodoo priestess left the Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality (at Holy Names College) in order to join the University of Creation Spirituality.
Although Fox has left, his Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality is still at Holy Names College. However, its name has been changed. It is now called the Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality. It gives graduate degrees in Creation Spirituality. Judging by its courses and faculty members, it appears to teach shamanism, African religions, and “eco-feminism”. Several courses appear to be Wiccan.
Although he is no longer Catholic, Fox continues to have widespread influence among Catholics through priests and nuns who have been influenced by his teachings. His influence also continues through Catholics who are trained at the Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality at Holy Names College.
Fox’s books are sold in both Catholic and New Age book stores. His books are featured at some Catholic retreat houses. They are used by nuns. This not only influences the nuns, it also influences Catholics who come under the influence of those nuns. (For example, other nuns, or students, or Catholics who attend retreats.)
One of Fox’s books is titled, “Whee! We, Wee All the Way Home: A Guide to a Sensual, Prophetic Spirituality”. [I’m not kidding. You can check it out for yourself at Amazon.com.] Another is titled, “On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style”. Other books include “One River Many Walls: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths” and “Exploring the Cosmic Christ Archetype”.
Because of Fox’s teachings, some nuns have incorporated Wiccan rituals into their worship. Some nuns are teaching Fox’s “creation spirituality” to young children, and neglecting foundational doctrines such as sin and redemption. (Fox doesn’t believe in those doctrines.)
Leaders of the Catholic feminist movement exhort women to cultivate rage and anger against patriarchy. This is contrary to Scripture, which warns us to avoid bitterness. The Bible says,
“Strong’s Concordance” defines the word “profane” as “heathenish.” According to “Webster’s Dictionary,” “heathen” means “pagan.” The Bible connects bitterness with failure to respond to God’s grace, defiling people, pagan behavior, and forfeiting one’s spiritual inheritance.
The Catholic feminist movement encourages women to become bitter, to remain bitter, and to call it a virtue.
Donna Steichen says that many feminist nuns are committed to their “careers” and refuse to leave the Catholic Church, even when they no longer believe its teachings. Instead, they stay in their positions for the purpose of destroying the Catholic Church as we know it, and creating a new feminist religion in its place. (“Ungodly Rage,” page 26)
INVOLUNTARY NEW AGE INDOCTRINATION
Catholic educators have been exposed to New Age indoctrination when they didn’t expect it and therefore weren’t prepared for it. This is of strategic importance for the Catholic feminist movement. If you indoctrinate an educator, then you influence all of his or her students. If one of those students is a nun, then she is likely to influence other nuns in her convent. In addition, feminist educators can influence their colleagues, thus spreading the influence of feminism on the educational system. [Note 7]
Jean Houston was the director of the Foundation for Mind Research and past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and she frequently speaks at New Age conferences. In 1982, 1984 and 1989, Jean Houston addressed Catholic educators at the convention of the National Catholic Education Association. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 242-245)
Between 1985 and 1988, the National Catholic Education Association had a “Catholic Education Futures Project”. Twenty other Catholic educational organizations participated in it. This was billed as being preparation for future needs. However, in actuality it was a New Age indoctrination of leaders in Catholic education. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 244-245)
Some Catholic feminist nuns teach New Age spirituality at parochial schools and Catholic colleges. This betrays the trust of Catholic parents who send their children to those schools, expecting that they will receive a good Catholic education.
Mundelein is a Catholic women’s college which is run by nuns. It is affiliated with Loyola University, which is run by Jesuit priests. In March 1985, a conference called “The Goddesses and the Wild Women” was held at Mundelein. This conference was repeated there in 1986. Also in 1986, a program was given at Mundelein titled “Her Holiness: Maiden, Mother, Crone.” The program honored the “triple goddess” of witchcraft. It included a croning ritual, which is a witchcraft initiation ritual. (“Ungodly Rage,” pages 79-91)
When parents send their daughters to a Catholic college that is run by nuns, they probably think that their daughters will be taught the Catholic doctrines of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Who would ever think that, in such an environment, their daughters would be exposed to goddess worship and a witchcraft initiation ritual.
In the world of business, this would be called “bait and switch.” This is the practice of attracting customers by offering them what they want to get, and then switching them to what you want to sell them.
Heythrop College (in London) is run by Jesuit priests. In January 2002, the college hired a professed witch to teach psychology of religion. This was done with the approval of the Jesuit priest who is the president of the college. [Note 8]
Catholic parents who sacrifice to send their children to Heythrop College do not expect to have them come under the influence of a teacher who is a practicing witch. Even though her subject matter is not witchcraft, her witchcraft beliefs and values will influence her view of both psychology and religion, and the way in which she presents them. In addition, teachers can have a personal influence on their students.
Again, the problem is false representation. If Catholic parents send their Catholic children to a Catholic school, expecting them to be taught Catholicism, then that is what they should be taught--not something else that the parents didn’t expect and don’t want. That is fraud. It would be equally fraudulent to teach Catholicism in a Hindu school or a Wiccan school. When parents pay money to have their children be trained in the beliefs of their family’s religion, then they should get what they paid for.
Matthew Fox is not the only Catholic priest who teaches New Age spirituality. There are others. One example is Jesuit priest George Maloney. He wrote “Mysticism and the New Age: Christic Consciousness in the New Creation”. Several Catholic priests teach Fox’s creation spirituality.
There is a Benedictine monastery which calls itself a “Christian Ashram”. People can study mysticism, comparative religion, and Indian music there. Dom. Bede Griffiths is in charge of it. His books include “Cosmic Revelation: The Hindu Way to God,” and “The Other Half of My Soul: Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue”.
Griffiths combines Catholicism with Hinduism. Another priest combines Catholicism with Buddhism. Dom. Aelred Graham wrote “Zen Catholicism” and “Conversations: Christian and Buddhist”.
Catholic priest Edward Hays runs a Catholic-Hindu “house of prayer” complete with statues of Hindu gods. There is also a crucifix. Hays gives Jesus equal billing with the various Hindu gods. The “house of prayer” is popular, and usually filled to capacity. (“Unicorn in the Garden,” pages 72-74)
Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello gives workshops introducing Catholics to Eastern prayer and meditation techniques, including visualization and Transcendental Meditation. He wrote a book titled, “Sadhana: A Way to God”. The cover shows Jesus on the cross, and a person seated in the lotus position, meditating at the foot of the cross. (“Unicorn,” pages 100-114)
Some Catholic theologians teach that it is “scandalous” to insist that Jesus Christ has a unique status in salvation. They say that it creates a stumbling block to unity with people of other religions, such as Buddhists and Hindus. A Catholic center for spirituality features readings from the “holy books” of many faiths, celebrates pagan festivals, and includes statues of Buddha and Vishnu in their chapel. In 1998, there was a retreat which was attended by both Catholics and Buddhists. In 1999, a Catholic Advent celebration included Buddhist monks and nuns. There is a web site which is devoted to facilitating “dialogue” between Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus. [Note 9]
The Ursuline Sophia Center (run by Ursuline nuns) features labyrinth walks, Reiki, and spiritual programs which are inspired by religions that are not Christian. (Reiki involves New Age manipulation of “energy” fields and the transfer of “energy” to other people.) Their store sells items for doing Reiki, Yoga, and T’ai Chi. They have classes for training people to do Reiki. [Note 10]
I know a man who went to seminary to become a Catholic priest. One of his seminary professors recommended some books written by Wiccan authors. He was influenced by those books. One thing led to another and he wound up becoming a Wiccan priest instead of a Catholic priest. (Eventually he became a born-again Christian and left Wicca.)
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
How could this happen? How could priests and nuns become so deeply deceived? And how could Catholic laymen and laywomen so easily accept New Age teaching from priests and nuns, when that teaching is clearly contradictory to traditional Catholic practice and doctrine?
It is easy to deceive people who are used to being told what to think. And, as we will see, the Catholic Church claims that it has the right to control how Catholics think.
According to Canon Law (the official laws governing the Roman Catholic Church), Catholics are required to submit their minds and wills to any declaration concerning faith or morals which is made by the Pope or by a Church council. [Note 11]
The Catholic Church teaches that only the Magisterium of the Church (the Pope and the bishops in communion with him) has the right to interpret Scripture. According to Catholic doctrine, people like us are not allowed to interpret Scripture for ourselves. Rather, we have to check it out with Church authorities. [Note 12]
In other words, Catholics are required to used authority figures in order to check out Scripture. This is the opposite of the Bible, which tells us that we should use Scripture in order to check out the teachings of authority figures.
The Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament. He went to the Third Heaven and was given revelations of things that he was not allowed to tell us about. He was given such great revelations that God sent him a “thorn in the flesh” in order to keep him humble. (2 Corinthians 12:2-7) Paul was so highly regarded by the Apostles that he was able to publicly rebuke Peter. (Galatians 2:11-21)
Paul was a great apostle, a martyr, and a hero of the faith. Much of our theology is based on his writings. Certainly the Apostle Paul had more authority than any pope or bishop. But does the Bible rebuke people who questioned Paul’s teachings? Were people expected to submit their minds and wills to whatever the Apostle Paul taught them about faith and morals? Not at all.
On the contrary, the Bible commends the people of Berea because, when the Apostle Paul preached to them, they checked out what he said against Scripture. They “searched the Scriptures daily” in order to “see whether these things were so”. (Acts 17:10-11)
God wants His people to check things out for themselves, using Scripture as their yardstick.
The Bible says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). According to “Strong’s Concordance,” the word “prove” means “to test”. We are supposed to test things, to check them out for ourselves, using the Bible for our plumb line. If we are faithful to do that, then it will help us become mature Christians who are not deceived by false doctrines. If we fail to do it, then we will be vulnerable to every “wind of doctrine” that comes along.
CATHOLICISM AND PAGANISM
Historically, Catholicism has been combined with paganism in various countries and cultures. This may be one reason why many Catholics (including priests and nuns) have been vulnerable to New Age beliefs and practices. Following are some modern examples of paganism being mixed with Catholicism.
Voodoo is practiced in Africa, South America, and the West Indies. It is also practiced in some areas of the United States. Haiti and New Orleans are famous for it. Voodoo is a mixture of Catholicism and West African religion. Practitioners invite “spirits” (i.e., demons) to “mount” them (possess them). People who practice Voodoo often practice regular Catholicism as well. For example, Marie Leveau, the most famous Voodoo Queen in New Orleans, went to Mass every day. Voodoo involves black magic, curses, and spells. People in New Orleans were afraid of Marie Leveau (the Voodoo Queen). But she considered herself to be a devout Catholic. [Note 13]
In Cuba, there is an annual festival in honor of St. Lazarus. It combines Catholic and Voodoo rituals. According to “Catholic World News,” celebrations include Catholic Mass, offerings of rum and cigars, and pilgrims who carry crosses or drag heavy weights which are chained to their bodies. In 1996, Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana said the Mass. [Note 14]
In some parts of South Africa, animals are sacrificed during Roman Catholic Mass. Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Bloemfontein has actively promoted this practice. Archbishop George Daniel of Pretoria said that animal sacrifice is being done in parishes in his diocese. There is a video showing it. A Catholic priest blessed chickens and goats during Mass. The animals were slaughtered and their blood was poured into a hole outside of the church. [Note 15]
In Guatemala, Mayan rituals are combined with Roman Catholicism. In Chichicastenango, Guatemala, there is a Mayan-Catholic Mass. Mayan rituals are conducted inside the Catholic church while the Catholic priest says Mass. This is so popular that it is featured in Guatemalan tourist guides. In Mayan-Catholic churches, one half of the church has pews. The other half has a bare floor. This enables people to put candles and flowers and other things on the floor as part of their Mayan rituals. [Note 16]
Mexicans celibrate the Day of the Dead. This is a combination of Aztec religion and Roman Catholicism. In modern cities, it can be primarily just a festival. But in rural areas, it is a serious religious ritual. Some Catholic Mexicans actually worship the dead, even though their Catholic priests tell them not to. [Note 17]
Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world. It has 115 million Catholics, which is twelve percent of the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, one out of nine Catholics lives in Brazil. Ninety-three percent of Brazilians claim to be Catholic. However, at least sixty percent of Brazilians practice spiritism. In other words, more than half of Brazil’s Catholics practice spiritism in addition to Catholicism. Brazilian Catholics are known for having “double affiliations” (being members of two or more different religions at the same time). Religions which are often practiced by Brazilian Catholics include Candomble, Umbanda, Macumba, and Kardecism. In addition, many Brazilians practice witchcraft or consult witches. [Note 18]
Candomble, Umbanda, and Macumba are all mixtures of Roman Catholicism, various African religions, and the beliefs of Brazilian Indians. Religious practices include inviting “spirits” (i.e., demons) to possess the worshipers. Many Brazilians practice both traditional Roman Catholicism and Candomble. Macumba practitioners do black magic. Kardecism is a form of spiritism which includes belief in reincarnation. [Note 19]
Santeria is a Caribbean religion which combines Roman Catholicism with African religions. People who practice Santeria often practice regular Catholicism as well. Cities with large Hispanic populations usually have Santeria. [Note 20]
In the Philippines, during Holy Week (the week preceding Easter), there are “folk rituals”. These include “penitential processions” with hundreds of men who whip themselves until their backs are covered with blood. Some people are literally crucified at the end of a Passion Play on Good Friday (but they are only left on the cross for a short time). The crucifixions first began in 1961 with a “healer” who wanted to be crucified in order to acquire “sacred power” for “esoteric healing”. Following his example, many other “healers” were also crucified. The practice spread and was no longer limited to “healers”. Some people have come from foreign countries in order to be crucified. Women have been crucified. [Note 21]
When people are used to being told what to believe, then what protection do they have against false teaching? Especially if it comes from authority figures like priests and nuns.
It is far more difficult to deceive people who have a real understanding of the Bible, and who habitually check things out against Scripture. Especially if they are also in the habit of humbly asking God to guide them and to correct them if they get off track.
The Bible gives us some beautiful examples of humble prayers for guidance, instruction, and correction.
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
You may link to this article or post it on your website. You may quote from this article, make copies of it, and distribute copies of it.
1. Randy England, “The Unicorn in the Sanctuary: The Impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church” (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, 1990). The author is Catholic.
2. Mitch Pacwa, “Catholics and the New Age” (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 1992).
3. Donna Steichen, “Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism” (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991, 1992).
4. Kathleen Howley, “Catholic College Welcomes Feminists, Bans Rosary,” “Catholic World News,” April 24, 1996.
5. Randy England, “The Unicorn in the Sanctuary,” chapter 6. The title of this chapter is “Woman Church, Witchcraft, and the Goddess”. (To read this chapter online, search for “Randy England” + “woman church”.)
6. Mitchell Pacwa, “Catholicism for the New Age: Matthew Fox and Creation-Centered Spirituality”. (To read this article online, search for “Catholicism for the New Age” + Pacwa.)
The Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality is located at Holy Names College in Oakland, California. To find information about it online, search for “Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality”.
The University of Creation Spirituality was located in Oakland, California. It relocated to San Francisco and changed its name to Wisdom University. Matthew Fox still teaches there. The university has a website.
7. If the educators are nuns, they are in double jeopardy. (1) They were did not expect to receive New Age teaching and therefore were not prepared to deal with it. (2) As nuns, they have been taught to accept what they are told by people in authority. In an instructional setting, a speaker or teacher is a person in authority.
8. “Witch Teachs Religion at British Catholic University,” “Catholic World News,” January 24, 2002.
“Witch Hired to Teach at London Jesuit College,” “CathNews,” August 9, 2002.
“Pagan Witch Is Hired to Teach at Jesuit College,” “News Telegraph,” January 24, 2002.
9. “Inner Explorations: Where Christian Metaphysics and Mysticism Meet Eastern Religions, Jungian Psychology, and a New Sense of the Earth”
“East-West Contemplative Dialogue: Where Christian Mysticism and Metaphysics Enters into Dialogue with Buddhism and Hinduism”
Bernard D. Green, “Catholicism Confronts New Age Syncretism”. Green is a Catholic priest. (To read this online, search for “Catholicism Confronts New Age Syncretism”.)
Hans Hallundbaek, “A Year of Dialogue Culminates in Buddhist Participation in Maryknoll Advent Celebration.” BAUS Newsletter Issue 58. (Maryknoll is a Catholic religious order.) (BAUS is the Buddhist Association of the United States.)
10. The Ursuline Sophia Center has a website.
11. Canons 752, 1311, and 1312 in “Code of Canon Law,” Latin English edition, New English Translation (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1988), pages 247 and 409.
12. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Paragraphs 85, 100, 891, and 2051. The “Catechism” is available in many languages and many editions. It has numbered paragraphs so you can locate things precisely, no matter what language it is in or what edition you are using.
13. Lesley Gordon (editor), “The Dominican Republic and Haiti” (London: Insight Guides, 2001), pages 104-109, 112-114, 297.
“Voodoo in New Orleans and the Legacy of Marie Laveau”
14. “Cubans Flock to Saint Festival Combining Catholic, Voodoo Beliefs,” “Catholic World News,” News Brief, December 18, 1996.
Andrew Cawthorne, “With Sackcloth and Rum, Cubans Hail Saint Lazarus,” “Cuba News,” December 17, 1998.
Kevin Gray, “Cubans Pay Homage to Patron Saint,” “Cuba News,” December 18, 2000.
15. Noel Bruyns, “Let Africans Honor Ancestors with Blood Libations in Mass, Says Bishop,” “Christianity Today,” April 10, 2000.
Cedric Pulford, “Debate Continues on Incorporating Animal Sacrifices in Worship,” “Christianity Today,” October 23, 2000.
16. Iain Stewart, “Guatemala” (Bristol, England: Rough Guides, 2002), pages 455-457. (Also see pages 118 and 192 about Saint Simon, who is also known as Maximon.)
“Catholicism and the Mayans”.
17. Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayer, “The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico” (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003).
18. Otavio Velho, “An Assessment of the Interreligious Situation in Brazil”. (An article by the World Council of Churches)
“Brazil, A Cultural Treasure Chest: Religion:
19. Marshall Eakin, “Brazil: The Once and Future Country” (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997, 1998), pages 73, 125-129.
“Santeria, A Syncretistic Caribbean Religion”.
21. Johanna Son, “Religion-Philippines: Holy Week of Folk Rituals, Gory Spectacle,” “World News, Inter Press Service,” April 12, 1998.