SPIRIT IN THE SKY
Readers of a certain age will instantly recognise the title and lyrics of Norman Greenbaum's 1969 hit single. For those too old or too young to know or care, it features one of the catchiest guitar riffs in the history of pop music. A hapless product of the rock-pop generation, even as I write my foot is tapping away to the familiar dirge which has spawned innumerable cover versions and continues to feature in dozens of movies and television ads. But apart from its enduring musical effect, Greenbaum's elementary lyrics also captured the essence of the emerging "spirituality" of the late 60s, which quickly morphed from a New Age novelty into the full-blown neo-pagan syncretism of our day.
Long ago when Father Crane perceived the danger and began running regular analyses of the New Age in these pages, many thought he was wasting space on a passing fad. It was hard to blame them. "Age of Aquarius" insanity was always far easier to spoof than critique. Greenbaum's ditty itself was an early New Age send-up, even while appearing to mock Christianity. Yet he intended no offence to believers. It simply happened that after watching a gospel singer on TV he thought: "'Yeah, I could do that,' knowing nothing about gospel music, so I sat down and wrote my own gospel song. It came easy. I wrote the words in 15 minutes." In a 2006 New York Times interview, the Jewish musician said that he has received thousands of e-mail messages and letters about the above verse. "A lot of them say, 'We’re all sinners, we were born sinners, how dare you'." To which he shrugs, "O.K., so what do I know?" In fact he knew more than he realized, and more than his Christian critics would ever admit.
Just as the tune represented a clueless yet mesmeric take on gospel music, his rapidly penned and apparently fatuous lyrics anticipated with uncanny accuracy the syncretic dissolution of Christian doctrine and belief in our time. Indeed they encapsulate the heretical pap that passes for Catholic education and preaching today. The end result is manifest in our empty confessionals and paraded at most Catholic funerals, where the deceased is canonized from the pulpit before "My Way" sends them off for cocktails with Jesus and a welcoming banquet with the Communion of Saints; no questions asked and no expiatory prayers requested.
The fruition of Luther’s "justification by faith alone," this ascent of the sinless, ego-centric Christian was set in train when the apostate monk excised the clear words of Scripture: "Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?"; "For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead" [James 2:24, 26]. This biblical cut-and-paste job facilitated the self-absolution which became imperative once Luther had denied the authority of the Church and thereby negated the sacramental power of the priesthood of Jesus Christ: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" [Jn 20:23].
Left as judge and juror to forgive himself, he dreamed up a rationale whereby faith alone can work justification, and man is saved by confidently believing that God will pardon him, making him magically righteous without recourse to the sacramental means and good works required by St James and the teaching Church. This privatised pseudo-faith not only includes a full pardon of sin, but also an unconditional release from its penalties. Hence Luther's typically unhinged call to
It was a slow but inexorable progression from that typically hearty exhortation to embrace concupiscence, conveniently tailored to fit Luther’s particular disorder, to our current epoch sated with sensuality and oblivious to "sin," viewed nowadays as a fanciful or titillating figure of speech.
"The new doctrine of justification by faith gradually developed, and was finally fixed by Luther as one of the central doctrines of Christianity," notes the Catholic Encyclopaedia, listing these major additional tenets of the Lutheran revolt:
Far from freeing "Christian Man," of course, Luther’s laundry list of heresies enslaved him. Today — stripped of belief in the divinity of Christ and His magisterial Catholic authority in matters of faith and morals; viewing the seven sacraments as superstitious hocus pocus; affronted by the very thought of priestly and saintly mediators and intercessors before God — Luther’s progeny are disarmed and defenceless, easy prey for self-centred, esoteric "spiritualities" touted by agents of an undemanding God-substitute: a pantheistic spirit in the sky.
The spiritual father of extreme individualism and the advent of the Self, both of which define "modernity," I have written elsewhere on those aspects of Luther and his baleful legacy. [see “Luther, Anglicanism and the End of History”] Suffice to emphasise here that this bequest includes a weighty contribution to the emergence and spread of the Self-centred New Age contagion which is nothing less than Luther's rebellious spirit and personality played out over centuries. Indeed it is the Lutheranisation of huge swathes of the postconciliar Church that has seen this occult virus finally infect the bloodstream of the Mystical Body of Christ itself, as attested by the myriad pseudo-spiritual and psycho-sexual programmes and practices entertained by bishops, priests, Religious and laity over the past forty years.
Therefore, despite other major contributors to the spiritual anarchy of our times, one of whom we will shortly consider, we must never understate the corrosive influence of Brother Martin (the goodwill of so many of his hapless "born again" and Evangelical heirs notwithstanding). For the unsparing truth about Luther is essential if dumbed-down Catholics are not to be totally deceived by the ecumenical juggernaut and the accompanying push to rehabilitate him.
The Vatican's most recent contribution to this two-pronged attack against Catholic truth was a ceremony held during the recent Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in which Cardinal Koch of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and a delegation from the United Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany together planted and blessed an olive tree "as a sign of the ecumenical communion that has grown up to now between Catholics and Lutherans." The Lutheran delegation was visiting the Vatican to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's visit to Rome. They were received in private audience by Benedict XVI, who, we can be morally certain, preferred diplomatic small talk about olive trees to an urgent salvific appeal for the return of erring Lutherans to the one true Church.
Meanwhile, the tree planting ceremony is being twinned with "Luther's Garden," a project in Wittenberg designed to symbolize and celebrate the "global magnitude of the Reformation," as well as the "interconnectedness, interaction, and reconciliation between Christian churches," according to the Lutheran World Federation. Ecclesial groups worldwide are being invited to sponsor the 500 trees projected to be planted in the garden.
Pantheism and Gnosis
Dovetailing with and exploiting the Protestant division and degradation of Christendom, maintained and fostered by the false-ecumenism underlying such fatuous PR stunts, are the recurring streams of Pantheism and Gnosticism; primeval heresies which slip in and out of world history, forever enticing, deceiving and perverting souls. Although too vast and labyrinthine to cover within the limits of this essay, as the warp and woof of the New Age a brief introduction will be helpful to our understanding of its occult roots and inspiration.
In his essay Gnosis: The Occult Religion in History, Orlandi Fedeli of the Brazilian Montfort Cultural Association states that studying gnosis is like entering "a maze full of mist" and trying to unravel secrets which allow you to reach a mystery. No wonder it leads to confusion! He continues:
Essentially, then, gnosis purports to be the knowledge of the unknowable — a quintessentially occult concept. As Fedeli says:
Continuing to join the dots, Fedeli goes on to explain why this religion offering man the knowledge of good and evil sounds so familiar:
If we accept this interpretation of Adam’s temptation, says Fedeli, we must conclude "that there is a continuity of gnosis in history. And that is what scholars certify: gnosis really presents itself as a religion sometimes occult, sometimes public, yet always maintaining unity and continuity throughout history." He elaborates:
Insofar as she embodied the New Age confusion to come, Simone Weil [1909-43] was ahead of her time. The precociously intelligent daughter of agnostic Jewish parents, she was a renowned French philosopher and left-wing social activist who was attracted to Catholicism. During World War II she lived for a time in Marseille, receiving spiritual direction from a Dominican. But she did not limit her curiosity to Christianity, being keenly interested in other religions — especially the Greek and Egyptian mysteries, Hinduism (learning Sanskrit after reading the Bhagavad Gitaand) and Mahayana Buddhism. Even while claiming to oppose religious syncretism, since it effaced the particularity of the individual traditions, she believed that all these and other religions were valid paths to God. As a universalist, she attempted to understand each religious tradition as expressive of transcendent wisdom. Thus confused and conflicted, she declined baptism.
Despite her "universalism," however, would Simone Weil have sanctioned our postconciliar madhouse? Desirous of preserving the identity of each religious tradition, what would she think of our perfect storm: resurgent pantheistic and gnostic currents converging with rampant Lutheranisation to unleash the faddish occultism advertised in Catholic papers and parish newsletters – yoga, reiki, enneagram, centering prayer, EST, Myers-Briggs and every imaginable Eastern practice, meditative technique and "human potential" scam.
This demonic portal of New Age lunacy — reflecting that effacement of all religious and pseudo-religious "particularity" even the disoriented Weil abhorred — was opened by the ecumenical free-for-all and the heretical indifferentism it spawned.
In this regard, Catholic Family News editor John Vennari recently explained the "clear rupture with the consistent teaching of the Church" between the current annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the original purpose of the event’s institution as the Chair of Unity Octave in 1908 (then, as now, conducted from 18-25 January). He compared the indifferentism fostered by the fuzzy ecumenical prayers said daily by Pope Benedict XVI at the basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome, with the crystal clear intention of those said each day of the Octave by Pope St. Pius X (and every pontiff up until Vatican II).
In 2010, around the theme "That All May Be One in Your Hand," Pope Benedict’s prayer intentions for each day of the Week were: 1: by praising the One who gives us the gift of life and resurrection; 2: by knowing how to share the story of our faith with others; 3: by recognizing that God is at work in our lives; 4: by giving thanks for the faith we have received; 5: by confessing Christ’s victory over all suffering; 6: by seeking to always be more faithful to the Word of God; 7: by growing in faith, hope and love; 8: by offering hospitality and knowing how to receive it when it is offered to us.
In 1908, on the other hand, around the theme of conversion of non-Catholics to the one Church of Jesus Christ, St. Pius X’s daily prayer intentions during the Octave were: 1: The Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome [18 Jan.]: The return of all the 'other sheep' to the one Fold of Peter, the One Shepherd; 2: The return of Oriental Separatists (i.e., Schismatic East) to the Communion with the Apostolic See; 3: The submission of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ; 4: That the Lutherans and all other Protestants of Continental Europe may find their way back to the Holy Church; 5: That Christians in America may become one in common with the Chair of Peter; 6: The return to the Sacraments of all lapsed Catholics; 7: The Conversion of the Jews; 8: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul [25 Jan.]: The Missionary conquest of the world for Christ (or, as stated elsewhere in pre-Vatican II Graymoor literature, the "conversion of the entire heathen world").
Whereas the same 1908 Octave theme and prayers were retained annually thereafter, nowadays there are new themes and prayer intentions every year. Comparing the two, Venarri notes:
Venarri concludes that the new programme "is a manifestation of the religious indifferentism condemned consistently by the Popes all through history." He then recounts the teaching of four consecutive popes against this "lethal system of religious indifferentism" (as Pius VIII phased it) — a system which places the Catholic Church on equal footing with false religions and thus proclaims that a man may find salvation in any religion. To quote just one of these papal condemnations, by Pope Gregory XVI in his Mirari vos arbitramur:
Alert to the signs of our apocalyptic times, Benedict XVI is drawing regular parallels between the inexorable fall of the Roman Empire and the state of the decadent post-Christian West today. Concurrently and perversely, however, he continues to facilitate this "lethal system of religious indifferentism" which undermines any possibility of countering the collapse of the West.
"The very future of the world is at stake," he warned in last year’s Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia, describing a world "troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function." Of all people, the Vicar of Christ knows that God’s Church and the Catholic religion it safeguards alone can provide that essential reference point and "consensus" vital to re-establishing the Christian common good. Thus, retreating from the least hint of indifferentism and reasserting traditional Catholic purpose and identity is the clear priority. And yet shortly after deploring the perilous situation of the West, Benedict announced more of the postconciliar same: another summit of the world’s religions at Assisi! Further scattering instead of gathering with Christ; still more convergence in lieu of conversion.
On New Year's day he told the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the first Angelus of 2011 that this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1986 World Day of Prayer for Peace which John Paul II called in Assisi. He then declared:
We should have seen it coming. In 2009 Benedict smattered his Good Friday Meditations at the Colosseum with Hindu quotations.They included a well-known verse from Hindu scripture ("Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality."), a line from Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali ("Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service"), and reference to (the very problematic) Mahatma Gandhi. In response, the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism praised the Pope’s "remarkable gesture," invited him to study more ancient Hindu scriptures, and stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world.
Since Hinduism is yoga and yoga is Hinduism (as former Brahmin priest and Christian convert Rabi Maharaj insists), the Holy Father’s ecumenical gesture was an even darker compromise than it appeared because yoga is a pervasive Western gateway to occult thought and practice. Ergo, to lend credibility to Hinduism is to pour fuel on the New Age inferno.
In that light, we should not be at all surprised to find ourselves back at John Paul II’s syncretic square one. And just as the decomposition of Catholicism and social, juridical and political attacks against Christian faith and conscience only accelerated after his first two Assisi extravaganzas, we should expect further rapid decline and oppression following Benedict’s Assisi III. For a third time, the old serpent and his Masonic allies will surely benefit from this pan-ecumenical folly heretically telegraphing to the world that everyone has their own path to God and are moving towards God independently of the one true Church he established for their salvation. As Archbishop Lefebvre insisted before the inaugural event:
Subsequent events confirmed his worst fears. The October 1986 gathering became synonymous with scandal and perfidy. The late Cardinal Silvio Oddi, former head of the Congregation for the Clergy, witnessed it first-hand:
Assisi was long in the making but always on the cards. Once the ecumenical dominoes were set falling in the sanctuary of an ecumenical New Mass specifically tailored by Paul VI for the "separated brethren," all bets were off; "lethal indifferentism" inevitably set in, cultivating heresies and sowing seeds of New Age infiltration. At the very least, Assisi III will do nothing to alleviate the mounting pressure of this heretical thought and diabolical practice, which continues to take a heavy toll.
It will only further encourage the likes of Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, a man already so ecumenically addled that he refuses to concede that Truth is more important than a spurious unity [CO, May 2006, p. 37] , and who publicly admits to not knowing if the Church will sanction sodomitical "marriage" [CO, Nov. 2010, pp. 20-21]. Clearly convinced that traditional Catholic morality should make way for a more "humane" pan-sexuality and a new order of "values" attuned to the syncretic zeitgeist — he personifies the confusion and apostasy we encounter at every turn.
Even the IRA’s Gerry Adams, despite his life-long war against the Protestant hegemony, admitted on Irish television that his religious beliefs are more compatible with Protestantism than Catholicism. "I have formed an opinion — and it’s probably a Protestant thing — that the notion of having some sort of middleman isn’t altogether necessary," he opined on Gay Byrne’s Meaning of Life show in April 2009, referring to Confession. "I think the Methodists are the best, but I love the democratic nature of the Presbyterian Church," he added. "I also think it’s downright nonsense that Christian Churches are so divided. I think it’s madness." Asked if the Host at Holy Communion is the real body of Jesus Christ Adams replied, "Who knows?"
As for the equally notorious Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, in response to an Irish MP’s suggestion in 2008 that government should uphold divine law (in respect of abortion in the province), he objected, asking which of the various religious deities needed to be respected. He sounded like actor Will Smith, who several years ago declared: "I'm a student of world religion. I was raised in a Baptist household. I went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98 per cent the same ideas of Scientology, 98 per cent the same ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism."
True, we should expect such religious illiteracy from actors, unrepentant terrorists and the spiritually befuddled likes of Prince Charles — whose new book Harmony, a self-important call to "heal the world," is said to read in parts like "the ravings of a Buddhist mystic." However, we need to appreciate that their syncretic worldview is now mainstream. A few years ago, a CO reader wrote to describe a visit to his hometown in Scotland:
How often we have confronted this ghastly (crushing!) reality among our own friends and relatives. It fairly sums up the apostasy of the rank and file who have succumbed to the endemic Modernism and relentless ecumenical propaganda. And there is no let up. Bishops everywhere continue to welcome purveyors of this corruption into their dioceses.
Universally indicative of the workaday indoctrination was Dr Anthony Tambasco’s January 2008 visit to Good Shepherd church in the Arlington diocese (Virginia). The Georgetown University professor spoke there on "The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic Gospels, and the Gospel of Judas: How Authentic is the Bible?" Both the bishop and the parish priest knew Tambasco’s heretical answer to that question because they were informed in advance by dutiful Catholics of his stated view that "It would not destroy my faith, if a theologian proved that [Jesus’] body rotted in the grave," and provided with a list of other falsehoods he was renowned for propagating, such as: The apostles and early Church fabricated the miracles and prophecies of Jesus; the resurrection wasn’t necessary; Mary’s perpetual virginity may have been a "theological symbol"; Peter never acknowledged Jesus as God; Jesus Himself didn't know He was God until after the resurrection; Thomas never put his hand in Jesus' side.
A man soaked in gnostic pride, Dr Tambasco exemplifies several lost decades in which Catholic belief, identity and purpose has been subverted by egotistical neo-Lutheran "experts," all with episcopal blessing.
Gateway to the occult
According to Father Lawrence J. Gesy, a member of the Vatican Commission on Cults, the dissident likes of Tabasco are responsible for the invasion of the Church by the New Age movement, since, he says, their questioning of orthodoxy destroyed the beliefs and practices that had protected Catholics from the world of evil spirits that seek to destroy man. In 1991, during a talk at the Baltimore Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, he spoke of the diabolic heart of this dissent; the gateway to pantheism, gnosticism and all the false gods of the New Age cult:
Twenty years on, Father Gary Thomas, official exorcist of San Jose, California, is issuing similar warnings. On 20 January 2011 he stated that his ministry is essential "not because we are having so many cases of demonic possession" but due to the fact that exorcists and priests in general are seeing far more people with mental health problems, precisely because "there are more and more Catholics, and people in general, who are involved in New Age things, opening doorways to the occult." The author of The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist (upon which the just released movie The Rite is based) Fr Thomas said, "For example, it can be people who get involved in very unorthodox types of meditation. ... I'm talking about people who go off to Buddhist camps, or people who are involved in spiritism ... It is not about a relationship with God; it is about a relationship with self."
Darkness Down Under
In keeping with the enfeebled state of the Church, the darkness continues to spread and deepen, destroying the faith of entire Religious communities, who in turn ruin countless souls. More than a decade after Fr Gesy’s warning, for instance, Paul Likoudis recounted how the Sisters of Mercy, who maintain the largest network of Church schools and hospitals in Australia, have played "an essential role in the transformation of the Church in Australia into a pagan, goddess-worshipping cult."
Queensland, thoroughly Protestantised and long boasting the lowest Mass attendances in the land, has been their focal point. Bishops who view their increasingly priestless Queensland dioceses as "an opportunity for growth," are quick to accept the dangerous counsel of New Age nuns to move from the geographical parish to small faith communities — "sometimes led by a layperson," as one Sisters of Mercy-designed "blueprint" duly advised the vanishing Diocese of Townsville.
Likoudis summarises the extensive reach and influence of some leaders of the demonic programme:
Despite a 2001 Brisbane Courier-Mail expose detailing the role of Womenspace in promoting Dark Goddess celebrations, goddess chants, and, particularly, the radical feminist theology of Sr. Wainwright, Womenspace continued on promoting occult "women’s spirituality," ignoring a token wrist-slap by their neo-Lutheran Archbishop John Bathersby, who failed to shut down Womenspace offerings such as:
"We have been bewildered that no action has been taken to stop those nuns," said Christine Howes. Not least because the Womenspace centre, as Likoudis notes, is "located within a ten minutes’ drive of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and also of Archbishop John Bathersby’s own residence."
Yet neither the Archbishop’s failure to act against such flagrant diabolism nor the abject state of his infamous archdiocese is the least bewildering. Bishops form the priests and priests form the people. For a logical explanation of events, therefore, we need merely consider Archbishop Bathersby’s own spiritual disorder.
Fittingly, this was revealed by Fr Peter Kennedy, a renowned Brisbane dissident who Bathersby coddled for many years until Rome finally intervened. Kennedy once stated on ABC radio: "John Bathersby himself, as spiritual director in the seminary … introduced Terry and many people to Buddhism." The "Terry" referred to is Fr Terry Fitzpatrick. In a book published in 2009 about Fr Kennedy, a chapter devoted to Fr Fitzpatrick elaborates on a week-long Zen Buddhist retreat for seminarians:
If they still retained a shred of Catholic faith, the biblical floods which recently devastated Queensland would serve as a belated wake-up call for Archbishop Bathersby and his brethren. For their State is truly a universal paradigm of Modernist cause and effect; pride and disobedience breeding dissent and heresies which, as Fr Gesy explained, give rise to the occult.
Instead of donning sackcloth, however, the Archbishop preferred to grandstand, sending an open letter to the people of Queensland claiming that his allegedly "Catholic community" would pull out all stops to assist the State's recovery. Meanwhile, Benedict XVI sent $50,000 to the relief effort. No amount of money, however, will save that Lutheranised, occult-infested wasteland.
Ironically, Bathersby is asking for the intercession of Australian saint Mary McKillop. But St. Mary's own order, the Sisters of St. Joseph, along with the Presentation Sisters, the Capuchins and the Christian Brothers, are also leading souls into New Age religion based on worship of the elements and pagan spirits and deities. In particular, this involves the propagation of the Goddess myth, which is seriously compromising Australian Catholics despite its recasting God the Father as a symbol of oppression, viewing the crucified and risen Christ as an irrelevance, and presenting the Church as one of the prime villains in history.
The influence of the Goddess worshippers can be seen on a many fronts, says Likoudis. For example, many churches, as a matter of custom, contain "pagan blessing trees" — dead tree limbs festooned with red, large yellow, green, and blue ribbons. Also, prayers — even official prayers such as that used for the success of Brisbane's Archdiocesan Synod 2003 — omit any reference to "God" or the traditional formulary "through Jesus Christ our Lord," but rather refer to the "Holy Spirit of Fire ... [to] help us recognize wisdom even from unlikely sources."
The notion of the Goddess is also insinuated into Catholic minds through Church art, architecture, prayer, and catechesis.
Concluding this explanation in the July 2000 New Directions magazine, author Philip G. Davis wonders if the "theological education of the people of God is so lacking that too few recognize the radical departure from received truth which the
There is no doubt about it. Among Catholics high and low, Modernist decimation of orthodox faith and belief has produced stupefying ignorance of the nature and dangers of the occult.
In September 2006, The Times of India reported that "the principal, a dozen staff members and about 250 students from the prestigious Loreto Convent School in Lucknow (the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh) were privy to a special occult session during which a medium transformed into Christ and blessed them." It related how a priest and the school’s principal, a Loreto nun, conducted the session during which a rickshaw-puller from a local Cult served as a medium to bring Jesus to "heal and bless" the gathering. He went around grunting and growling, making hissing sounds while "inducing" Jesus to enter his body. He then started shuddering and collapsed.
"During the session, a dozen students fainted and a couple needed medical attention," said the Times. "Most girls were either horrified or too shocked to explain the phenomenon." The head nun, however, described it as a "holy experience." She explained, "It is not unusual to be terrified when the Lord comes before you. Even I was frightened. It is very painful when Jesus enters his body. That is why he was writhing on the ground."
Addressing the media concerning the occult session, the Loreto School’s community leader, Sister Tressia, said that their intention was the "spiritual and emotional development of children. It was a prayer experience." She added that "they just wanted their students to experience the power of God as the spiritual development would help children."
Even worse, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India claimed that the events were "totally blown out of proportion," stating that the occult session was organized "in good faith" and was merely "a prayer meeting in the school premises," even though "a few children fainted due to exhaustion"!
From Australia to India to America, episcopates all over remain blind or indifferent to the naked face of evil within the Church. Diabolically disoriented and ecumenically neutered, serious Vatican warnings and critiques like Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age' [JCBWL] are surely incomprehensible to very many prelates and the souls they have betrayed.
A 90-page document published in 2003, JCBWL analyzes the context in which the New Age has arisen, as well as its characteristics, and contrasts it with Christian spirituality, ending with a glossary of New Age terms. Upon its release, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, then president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, explained that "the New Age means the age of Aquarius. It is an astrological concept, according to which the age of Pisces, which was that of Christ, has developed and is now passing to the age of Aquarius, in which everything is gentle, there are no longer the rigours of Christianity, everything is based on harmony with creation, with the cosmos."
The document warns us that Catholics who read New Age books or go to New Age meetings should be taught that they are in serious danger of being lured into "a form of false worship." The "New Age" teacher may be disingenuous, irrational and "mystical," attacking Christian beliefs while avoiding serious discussion about the issues.
When presenting JCBWL to the press, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, described "the New Age phenomenon" as "one of the most urgent challenges for the Christian faith." With its doctrines on God, man and the world, which are "incompatible with the Christian faith," the New Age "is a religious challenge," he said, but “at the same time, a cultural challenge ... [the] symptom of a culture in profound crisis and a mistaken answer to the present situation of crisis."
According to the Cardinal, the Church must respond to this situation by proposing Christian doctrine first of all, with "clarity and discernment" and, at the same time, by welcoming "people seeking meaning." This requires "a pastoral program directed to the specific culture of modern and postmodern societies, which give birth to the New Age phenomenon."
The ready-made means for teaching basic Christian doctrine with absolute "clarity," both to the dumbed-down Catholic masses and anyone "seeking meaning" is, of course, the incomparable and timeless Penny Catechism Yet that first protective step in a fuller response to the New Age "challenge" is too elementary and clear cut for postconciliar bishops. Their preference is for fuzzy "pastoral" verbiage in keeping with the lengthy and often ambiguous texts of Vatican II (by far the most verbose Council in the history of the Church).
The New Age relies on such Modernist complexity and confusion to subvert moral and doctrinal clarity. Alas, the liberal pedigree of our present pontiff often facilitates this process, sending contradictory and confusing signals to the faithful. On 24 July 2009, for instance, in the Italian cathedral of Aosta, he managed to undermine the Vatican's New Age warning.
Reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Pope Benedict explained Christ's sacrifice as being necessary not in order to effect the taking away of original sin, but rather as a "river" or ocean of goodness, truth, and love which became incarnate in order to counter the river or ocean of evil.
The Holy Father then described his reflection as "the great vision that later Teilhard de Chardin also had: At the end we will have a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host."
That brief statement ignited controversy. The press, of course, missed the possible doctrinal implications of the Pope’s explanation of the Incarnation and Calvary [see "Point of Departure," CO, March 2004, for a study of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's peculiar take on original sin — www.christianorder.com]. Predictably, they seized instead on the positive reference to French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, whose quasi-mystical, quasi-scientific evolutionary writings have been repeatedly condemned by the Church as a danger to the Faith. In 1962, seven years after his death, the Vatican officially warned that his pantheistic works "abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine." Liberal journalist John Allen commented:
The chuffed Mancuso is right that the words have "great importance," but for wholly negative reasons. Teilhard, who died in 1955 at the age of 73, is a veritable patron saint of the very New Age which the Vatican’s 2003 document seeks to counter.
Teilhardian psychic mumbo-jumbo, positing naturalistic evolutionary flux and change, provides a reference point for the anti-dogmatic New Age creed. And yet the late Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, for one, extolled Teilhard in 1981, praising the "astonishing resonance of his research, as well as the brilliance of his personality and richness of his thinking." That arch-Modernists like Casaroli continue to venerate Teilhard speaks volumes.
In contrast, the great philosopher-theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, a twentieth century champion of the Faith, wrote:
Teilhard's gnostic gobbledygook not only excites impressionable laity and clerics, like Fr Lombardi, it also supplies Modernist prelates with a pseudo-religious rationale for refashioning Catholic sexual morality according to the dissolute tastes of the modern world. Thus, the pragmatic Vincent Nichols is a Teilhardian apostle of the New Age who doesn't know it. Von Hildebrand makes this clear in Teilhard de Chardin: A False Prophet, appendix to The Trojan Horse in the City of God (1967), as he goes on to compare the Christian faith with Teilhard’s antithetical approach to religion:
New Age totalitarians
This totalitarian tendency intrinsic to the New Age makes it especially appealing to the self-styled mystics of the United Nations, such as Robert Muller. For 40 years the Under-Secretary-General of the UN, where he promoted the New Age movement, Muller has since drawn up a "Framework for Planetary and Cosmic Consciousness." Known as "the father of global education," he bases the "World Core Curriculum" of his Robert Muller School on the teachings of Masonic Theosophist Alice Bailey and her "Ascended Master" Djwhal Khul — an occult spirit who supposedly channelled knowledge to Bailey. On 30 March 1995, in a passage of textbook Teilhardian cant, Muller stated that the UN should rule the planet:
This recalls Teilhard’s process of "psychic convergence," leading to the development of a collective psyche and to a super organism with its own psyche — a "thinking planet" and "the very soul of the earth." A theological Mr Spock exploring fantastical outposts of his pantheistic universe, Teilhard called this organism "the noosphere"! Truly, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry himself never matched Teilhard's hilarious sci-fi lexicon!
Like Robert Muller, however, Teilhard was deadly serious. As are the fellow-travelling French Masons who speak in similar socialist terms of "assimilating Christianity and other current forms of spirituality" so that "the world of the future will be established and, if allowed, principles analogous to the phenomenon of total collectivism will be systematically taught and a form of pantheism will be born, wherein all the modes of present day thinking will be blended; united into a new, inconceivable dynamism to achieve their objectives" [The New Montinians, 1977].
Von Hildebrand explains Teilhard's contribution to this pantheistic-collectivist vision of a neo-Marxist world religion:
Before all that, one can well understand the reaction of philosopher Etienne Gilson. During correspondence with noted Teilhardian Henri de Lubac, SJ, he declared: "Myself, I'd a hundred times rather be a Lutheran than a Teilhardian." This is tantamount to saying: I’d rather be an honest heretic than a snake oil salesman.
For all his foundational errors which unleashed the rampant subjectivism and individualism at the heart of godless modernity, at least Luther’s new creed was a clear and unapologetic attack on the detested Church of Rome. On the other hand, Teilhard’s faux-mysticism seeks to subvert the Faith from within.
So why on earth would the current Pope give him even the slightest credit? After all, Teilhard's thought had famously revived opinions proscribed by St. Pius X in the decree Lamentabili and the encyclical Pascendi and condemned ex cathedra as heresy or intimately linked to heresies. His ideas and influence were also condemned in Pius XII's 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, and again in the Creed of Paul VI in 1968. Finally, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed its 1962 condemnation of Teilhard’s heretical fantasies in 1981 — just four months before then-Cardinal Ratzinger took over as prefect of the CDF!
During his salad days of Liberal agitation, Benedict himself had been listed by the Holy Office as doctrinally "suspect." Doubt-less, therefore, he harbours a certain sympathy for those who are subject to official condemnation. Hence, soon after his elevation to the papacy, the four hour chat over tea and biscuits at Castel Gandolfo with Hans Kung, a purveyor of heresies long stripped of his right to practise as a Catholic theologian. But just as his personal association with Kung goes back many years, so too his sympathy for Teilhard. As long ago as 1968, in his work Introduction to Christianity, Father Joseph Razinger had argued that Teilhard gave authentic expression to the Christology of St Paul.
On the other hand, John Allen notes that "In a commentary on the final session of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), a young Ratzinger complained that Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, played down the reality of sin because of an overly 'French,' and specifically 'Teilhardian,' influence." It seems to Allen, therefore, that "Benedict finds much to like about Teilhard's cosmic vision, even if he also worries about interpretations at odds with orthodox faith."
If that is the case, he should have recognised the conflicting elements typical of Modernism and shunned Teilhard's work immediately and forever. But since he did not do so (worrying enough!), and given his exclamation of praise at Aosta and his occasional lurching into Teilhard-speak, it seems that Benedict on the contrary finds far more to like than dislike.
In his 2006 Easter homily, for instance, he referred to the theory of evolution, describing the Resurrection as "the greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development." He could have been channelling Teilhard, who speaks of an evolving "Cosmic Christ" and "a super-creation" (his "strictly biological" version of grace) which "raises us a further rung on the ladder of cosmic evolution."
Insofar as it affects his personal theological views and so leads others astray, we should be concerned by the Pope’s long held regard for the erring Jesuit. Far from possessing the "great vision" attributed to him by Benedict, according to von Hildebrand the New Age icon is a man who finds "no place for salvation through Christ's death on the Cross, because man's destiny is part of pancosmic evolution." And this in turn renders impossible the Holy Father’s astonishing belief that Teilhard’s Christology reflects that of St Paul. For as Etienne Gilson explains:
It is a measure of the damage effected by Teilhard, both within and without the Church, that footnote 15 of the 2003 Vatican document on the New Age states that the pantheism and pelagianism rebuked in the text as New Age errors, were in part products of his thought. This footnote cites a poll of prominent New Age luminaries conducted several years before the publication of the document. The only Catholic among the 37 figures they mentioned, these respondents identified Teilhard more often than any other person as the thinker who had launched them on the road to the New Age.
Journalist Farley Clinton neatly captures the self-deception and self-serving of these Teilhard devotees: "Considering themselves lovers of the highest kind of spirituality while disbelieving every Christian doctrine, these people prefer the language of mysticism to the concepts of dogma and liked to talk about 'leaving religion to find God.' They venerate the most obscure Christian mystics but ignore every statement found in the catechism" [Inside the Vatican, June-July 2003].
Priests and scholars of different Vatican dicasteries laboured on the New Age text for more than five years, reported Clinton. And since the document "treats of questions of faith — it has as its object settling difficulties affecting the faith, and explaining what Catholics must shun as attacks on their faith — it was undoubtedly studied with care by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and probably scrutinized several times. That must have taken place, in virtue of the general regulations of the Curia. Thus, the footnote so damning to Teilhard, documenting his importance as a source for many of the leading 'New Age' thinkers, could not have been accidental. Among other things, then, this document is warning Catholics to be cautious about the theological legacy of Teilhard de Chardin."
Precisely where that leaves Pope Benedict is an open question. For most of us, though, rather than praising Teilhard's "legacy" it is far easier to spoof its many absurd manifestations, as we do in this edition, sending up Hollywood’s latest New Age offering and the sort of declaration we might expect from a future world president in the Robert Muller mould. Insofar as it continues to inform the totalitarian New Age mindset, however, Teilhardism is a very real danger to individual souls and the world at large.
In his review of the Vatican’s New Age critique, Farley Clinton notes, for example, that it "issues the same fundamental criticism, tantamount to an excommunication, that Pius XI pronounced upon Hitler in his anti-Nazi encyclical of March 14, 1937. (Pius XI insisted that by 'faith' the Nazi leaders never meant faith as the Church understands the word. As the 'God' sometimes invoked in the Nazi propaganda was certainly not the God who is proclaimed and served by the Church, and as from start to finish in its use of religious language the Nazi government violently opposed the very idea of God taught in the Church, Pope Pius XI insisted that Catholics could not possibly accept this language or those who used it.)"
John B. Shea similarly warns of the real dangers inherent in the underlying gnosticism of New Agers like Teilhard and his adherents, who do not speak of the teaching authority of the Catholic Church or of its tradition. Rather,
The prayer which opened the global warming summit in Cancun last December is a typically ominous portent of this increasing New Age gnosticism among the eco-elite. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and a native of Costa Rica, opened the two-week summit involving 193 countries with an invocation to the ancient Mayan jaguar goddess Ixchel, saying that Ixchel was "the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you — because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools. Excellencies, ... I am convinced that 20 years from now, we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of Ixchel."
This is the political trend, even in America. Less than 40 years after Norman Greenbaum wrote his tongue-in-cheek hit, not one of the 100 US Senators objected on the record when the Senate was opened on 12 July 2007 with an actual invocation to the Spirit in the Sky. "We meditate on that transcendental deity supreme who is inside the heart of us and inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heavens," prayed a Hindu chaplain, officially renting the veil of "One Nation Under God" — the one true God of the American Christians, that is, without Whom there is only chaos.
When Ante Pavkovic, a senior figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, together with his wife and daughter spoke out politely against this outrageous invocation, they were arrested and jailed for disturbing the Senate. Such violent overreaction, a worrying trend throughout the West, is putting us all on notice: the implacable gods of the New Age brook no dissent; they will be worshipped, by force if necessary — even unto human sacrifice en masse, as the bloody sacrificial offerings required by the false gods of the Nazis and today's abortion industry both cruelly attest.
Alas, there will be few Pavkovic families to resist the idolatry. Pervasive Lutheranism and the more ancient Pelagianism revived by Teilhard — a heresy that denies original sin and so rejects the need for redemption through Calvary — have done their dastardly work. The fulminating German heresiarch and the heretical French sci-fi writer stand condemned before the theologically illiterate, spiritually confused and utterly vulnerable worldlings they have spawned. For just as Martin Luther, though not a modern man any more than he was a Protestant in its latter-day sense, embodies the rebellious spirit at the heart of a modern world soaked in Star Trek theology, so Père Teilhard stands as the personification of the end product: the naturalistic New Age man shouting incomprehensible drivel to drown out the voice of objective Catholic truth and magisterial authority (the bête noire of Protestants and totalitarians alike).
This Protestant-New Age endgame was neatly summarized in the chastening response of an American Episcopalian blogger to his naive brethren distraught over the dissolute state of their "Church" on the eve of the 2008 Anglican Lambeth conference:
Beam me up, Scotty!
Is it any wonder that several decades after the release of his song, Norman Greenbaum could truly observe: "It sounds as fresh today as when it was recorded. I’ve gotten letters from funeral directors telling me that it’s their second-most-requested song to play at memorial services, next to 'Danny Boy'."
A classic one-hit wonder, Norman himself disappeared from sight. But as the world retreated from Christ and Satan infiltrated the Church, laying waste to moral, doctrinal and sacramental barriers to his "spiritual" seductions, Greenbaum's hymn to sinless New Age man lived on with ever greater relevance. And make no mistake, it's coming soon to a Requiem near you! Altogether now:
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky