Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
Personally, I think that article is out to lunch.
I respectfully disagree with your post.
First, Fr. Pacwa.
Her diatribe against Fr. Mitch Pacwa, who is very devoted to the Rosary and is a star on EWTN, immediately raises suspicions with me.
I didn't take the author's discussion of Fr. Mitch Pacwa as a diatribe. I took it as recommending
Fr. Pacwa's writings as resources which evidence and support the author's contention that there are New Age influences in the Catholic Church.
Here are the passages from the article referring to Fr. Pacwa:
Mitch Pacwa is a Jesuit priest who became involved in the New Age when he was in the seminary. He wrote "Catholics and the New Age". (If you search for the book at Amazon.com you can see nine pages on-line.)
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]
[ . . . ]
The following information about Matthew Fox comes from an article by Catholic priest Mitchell Pacwa. It is entitled "Catholicism for the New Age: Matthew Fox and Creation-Centered Spirituality". This article is on-line. Information about Fox's organizations comes from web sites and phone conversations. [Note 6 gives addresses of Pacwa's article and related web sites. It also gives the address of a transcript of an interview with Fox which was done by a New Age group which is enthusiastic about him. This will enable you to see for yourself the kinds of things that Fox believes and the way that he expresses himself.]
Those quotes referred to two notes: Notes 2 and Note 6. Here are those notes:
Now, what therein constitutes a diatribe?
I don't see a diatribe. I see references. And, when those references are consulted (including the reference to amazon.com in the quoted text), there are the following results.
According to the references (I have not read the book myself), Fr. Pacwa's book is his discussion and criticism of New Age. Specifically, it is Fr. Pacwa's discussion of his own involvement in New Age, his disillusionment with New Age, the existence of New Age in the Catholic Church, and his opinion that New Age is incompatible with Catholic belief.
Fr. Pacwa's online article is his discussion and criticism of Fr. Fox's New Age views.
So, in conclusion, I do not find a diatribe against Fr. Pacwa by the author of the article. Instead, I find references to his writings as evidence and support of the author's contention that there is a New Age influence in the Catholic Church.
Next, you wrote:
Fr. Thomas Merton is up for canonization. He was a very devoted Catholic who had a wide understanding of other religions and could carry on a dialogue with them. He was instrumental in bringing many Buddhists and Hindus into the Church and has inspired a generation of North American religious scholars of all traditions.
I didn’t know he is up for canonization. However, I do know that Fr. Merton is not yet canonized. And, there is good reason why he is not yet canonized. At one point during the latter part of his monastic career, the priest-monk Fr. Merton had a mistress. Probably he is not the first monk to have done this; and probably he was not the last; and he did repent; but this is hardly the "heroic virtue" that is looked for in the canonization process. Etc. As for his writings, they were Catholic at first. Later, however (for example, "New Seeds of Contemplation" especially his chapter on “Pure Love”), he perhaps was tending more toward a Buddhist view of reality than a Catholic view. Now, I am not a student of Merton's life and writings; and I might be wrong; and I have even found some of his writings to be inspirational (for example, “Seven Story Mountain” and “No Man Is an Island”). Yet, I find his earlier work to be commendable and his later work to be questionable and his personal moral development to be --to put it politely-- uneven. Personally, I find the writings of the monks in the Philokalia to be much more substantial, orthodox and holy than Fr. Merton's writings.
But, as for the article's references to Fr. Merton, they were weak. They did not refer to Fr. Merton's writings; instead they referred to another book which the author cited frequently.
Aelred Graham's book, "Zen Catholicism" is brilliantly written and I recommend it to the most traditional Christian/Catholic.
I have not read the book nor have I heard of it before reading the article in question. Hence, I cannot comment on it.
The Indian Orthodox Church itself calls her monasteries "ashrams" and adapts itself to Hindu religious values, for example, Indian Orthodox monks won't wear gold or silver crosses - only wooden ones.
And the point is? Acculturation? That is not a problem.
The problem is when religious lines are blurred in an attempt to find common ground. The different religions are different. Also, practices represent and reinforce beliefs. Well, when religious practices from one religion are adopted or adapted from other religions, the underlying beliefs are adopted or adapted too.
That is bad enough if a person believes that all religions are fundamentally the same. Under such an assumption (which I do not hold), the different religions represent complete systems for acquiring spiritual truth. Mixing and matching parts usually does not add to those systems; usually, it detracts from the specific purposes of those systems.
However, if a person believes that one religion is better than the others --such as I do about Christianity-- then adopting practices (and hence beliefs) is really dangerous. First, it undermines the claim that one religion is better than others. Second, it dilutes the practices of that religion and it can even contradict the tenets of that religion.
In short: To what extent can one religion receive influences from another religion before those influences dilute or even contradict the tenets of that religion?
This, really, is the rub of the article. It is not a perfectly written article, but it raises a very good point. Catholicism *is* being influenced and effected by the practice of New Age. That by itself is bad. New Age is a plate of warmed over gnosticism with some witchcraft on the side. But the influence of New Age on the Catholic Church also raises the bigger issue: How much can Catholicism be influenced by other religions before its own beliefs and practices are threatened?
This issue goes back to the Rites Controversy and beyond. And, vice versa. The topic is already being discussed (at other threads at the website) in terms of reunion of the Orthodox Churches and the Catholics Churches. This article raises the topic in terms of with non-Christian influences on the Catholic Church. And that is well worth consideration.