Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Women Religious and the 'New' Cosmology

Ann Carey, "Women Religious and the New Cosmology" (National Catholic Register, February 18, 2014):
New-Age spirituality is often thought of as a fad from the 1960s and 1970s that went out of vogue long ago. However, among some Catholics, including some members of religious orders, New-Age spirituality still is being promulgated — and its proponents are becoming more overtly critical of Catholic doctrine....

In 2003, the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue issued the instruction "Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age,’" calling New-Age spirituality "heterodox," distorting God’s word and replacing it with purely human words.

In spite of this clear instruction, a few New-Age concepts still are promoted vigorously in some Catholic circles. One of these concepts, called "the new cosmology," is being used to characterize Catholic doctrine as flawed because it allegedly is based on outmoded science. Variations of the new cosmology challenge belief in settled tenets of the Catholic faith, including the very nature of the Trinitarian God and the role of Jesus as Redeemer.

New cosmology also dismisses hierarchal order as well as so-called "dualisms" (defined as absolute truths). It holds that God, as a sort of "Earth Spirit," permeates every bit of matter and is part of the evolving universe, a theory called panentheism.

As Michael Morwood explains in his book It’s Time: Challenges to the Doctrine of the Faith (self-published under Kelmor Publishing, 2013): "The thesis of this book is that much of Catholic doctrine, specifically defined dogma about God, Jesus and Mary, being safeguarded and promoted by the CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, has outlived its use-by date. … There are undeniable implications for and challenges to traditional doctrine when the notion of God as a heavenly deity is replaced by an understanding that the word ‘God’ points to a Mystery that permeates everything that exists" (pp. 3-4).

According to Morwood’s website, he resigned from the priesthood and his religious order after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the hierarchy in his native Australia silenced him because of errors in two of his earlier books. Yet Morwood’s website shows that he speaks regularly at retreat houses in this country that are sponsored by Catholic sisters, and his book seems to be circulating within some religious orders....

The new cosmology also was cited as one of the problems found by the CDF doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, Conn., who, as bishop of Toledo, Ohio, had conducted the assessment, explained in an open letter published in the June 8, 2012, Toledo diocesan paper: "LCWR speakers also explore themes like global spirituality, the new cosmology, earth-justice and eco-feminism in ways that are frequently ambiguous, dubious or even erroneous with respect to Christian faith."

Nevertheless, just two months after that letter, the LCWR annual assembly in August welcomed as its keynote speaker Barbara Marx Hubbard, a proponent of the new cosmology.

In 2013, Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio likewise gave a keynote on the new cosmology at the LCWR assembly. DVDs were made of both keynotes and sold by the LCWR.

... the winter 2014 issue of the LCWR Occasional Papers is dedicated to the new cosmology, with several of the authors referencing both Sister Ilia and Barbara Marx Hubbard. Read more >>
[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

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