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Pope to condemn HPB and the Masters

May 29, 1998 07:58 AM
by Marshall Hemingway III

The following article by the Vatican correspondent to THE WANDER, a national
Catholic weekly newspaper appeared in the May 21 issue. I thought it may be of
some interest to those on this List. Here it is:


Vatican City. The long-expected encyclical from Pope John Paul II about the
problem of the New Age movement today may appear fairly soon, as a serious
article in L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO on May 7th reflects a desire to instruct the
faithful clearly regarding this subject.

It points out five central Christian beliefs that are strongly denied and
attacked in the propaganda of the fashionable books inspired by this movement:

1) The existence of a Creator
2) The reality of prayer to God, a meeting of two persons, which should have
the character of adoration, of petition, of thanksgiving offered by the
creature to the Creator, and is certainly not mere self-discovery.
3) The reality of human sin and the need of a Redeemer.
4) The significance of suffering and of death
5) The necessity of love and of work, not mere thought, to change the world.

Contradicting Christian belief, the New Age literature tends more or less to
identify God with the world, or to make the world a necessary emanation from
God, not His free creation. It knows nothing of the prayer of a creature and a
sinner. It proposes "meditation" that is a totally alien kind, not
reconcilable with Christian faith.

Christians believe in original sin and in the sinfulness of all of us,
consequently they cannot share in the New Age hope that some sort of
technique, or concentration, or union of millions of consciousnesses, can save
man. They believe in the one Way of salvation, Christ the Son of God made man
and introduced into history in order to save man.

The followers of the New Age are led not to accept suffering and death but to
place their hopes in expanding consciousness, in rebirth, and in techniques
believed to achieve these goals, while Christians believe in the power of
suffering in union with Jesus Christ crucified. For Christians, death is a
unique event, not an entry to one of a series of reincarnations or spiritual
journeys but the necessary step to enter eternal life.

The article in L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO, written by Teresa Osorio Goncalves,
traces the origins of this popularization of old Oriental religions to the
work of occultists in Europe and America in the last century. Madame Blavatsky
and her Theosophical Society, founded in New York with the aid of a
spiritualist in 1875, have had great influence in leading persons from
Christian countries to reject the Gospels entirely in favor of some approach
to Hinduism, Buddhism, or another heathen religion.

The rejection of God is central to the movement. Madame Blavatsky especially
rejected God whom she called the "masculine" God, of Israel, of Christianity,
and of the Muslims.

"She proposed a return to Hinduism with its cult of a mother goddess and its
practice of feminine virtues. Feminists action was to be continued in the
Theosophical Society under the guidance of Annie Besant, a figure in the
forefront of the feminist movement."

This modern occultism is difficult to pin down to definite beliefs since it
expresses itself in many different movements. But according to Goncalves,
there are six teachings encountered constantly, as they are the central belief
of the movement.

1) The world is seen as one organic whole.
2) But it is animated by an Energy which is more or less like God.
3) There are spiritual entities acting as mediators to man.
4) Man by spiritual exercises can control his life beyond death.
5) There is a "perennial wisdom" which precedes every religion and every
culture and is superior to every religion.
6) There are "enlightened" spiritual masters one should follow.

The encyclical in preparation will probably be the first, certainly the most
thorough, major document from the Church to address the thirst, or the craze,
for Eastern spirituality, although the phenomenon is almost 125 years old in
New York.

But false spiritualities linked to the heresies of Quietism and Jansenism
flourished a century or more before being censured in Rome, as was the case
with other errors.

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