The Battle for the Roman Catholic Church Future – New Age vs. anti-New Age? What is author Robert Blair Kaiser really saying?
I made the costly mistake of dropping by Border’s on my way home tonight. I saw husband Barry’s car parked there. Hubby graciously offered to buy me a cup of coffee. I accepted that after noticing four new irresistible titles on the new non-fiction table. One of them is the subject of this blog. That is Robert Blair Kaiser’s new book, A Church in Search of Itself: Benedict XVI and the Battle for the Future
.” For many of the same reasons for which I found myself comforted by openly anti-New Age Cardinal Ratzinger’s elevation, Kaiser finds the same distasteful. It appears that Robert Blair Kaiser and Lee Penn, author of False Dawn
, are at opposite theological poles. Obviously so are Robert Blair Kaiser and yours truly.
It might even be that Robert Blair Kaiser’s book is a type of “The Aquarian Conspiracy
” manifesto for integrating more “New Age” change into the church. The people he praises are for the most part open syncretists, those openly promoting apostasy and denial of orthodox tenets. Those he denigrates bluntly are guilty of nothing but keeping the faith.
Robert Blair Kaiser seeks “a Church in Search of Itself.” Lee Penn ably articulates (using the verb “pens” would seem a little punnish
!) the need instead of a church in search of God. Kaiser wants a church whose theology swings daily in the opposite direction. The author’s syncretistic biases shine throughout the book. His chapter, Cardinal Francis Arinze on “Developing Local Theologies” probably shows the author’s biases more than the reportedly more conservative Cardinal Arinze (and probably Lee Penn might have more knowledge about this).
Kaiser refers to an address Arinze gave at a year 2000 “Millennium World Peace summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders” at the UN in New York.
Kaiser says Arinze there called upon world leaders not to misuse religion by promoting violence. I have no quarrel with that premise. Kaiser was even happier that “since that meeting, “Arinze had presided over at least three major interreligious gatherings in turn, raising his media profile
.” He then writes:
“Four months after 9/11, he helped organize a huge gathering of leaders – Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Catholics -- in Assisi, where a similar meeting had been held a decade before. Curiously, the delegates prayed separately, because Cardinal Ratzinger had decided not to encourage joint prayer by men and women who believed in different Gods [sic]. Arinze didn’t fight Ratzinger on that. Neither did the pope
Well, score one hooray for Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)! Kaiser also wrote about those he considered the brave, good guys – those who were for “developing local theologies
Furthermore, Kaiser probably misread Arinze’s whose agenda was never syncretism, but evangelism. Arinze has personally, even earlier than the last pope himself, spoken out strongly against spiritualism and New Religions, including but not limited to New Age religion.
My admitted light reading of the volume last night makes it appear to me as though Los Angeles' Cardinal Mahoney is a Kaiser favorite. He rapturously describes his do-it-yourself skills with such detail as to make Mahoney look like a natural replacement for the host and star of "This Old House". However, in this case it looks like home construction and church destruction may well go hand in hand in southern California Catholic land. Faithful Christians in Cardinal Mahoney’s diocese succinctly described his actions:
"The Cardinal is bringing in speakers who openly trample on official Catholic teachings," Fisher observed. "He's subjecting Catholics to talks by advocates of abortion, sodomy, homosexual 'marriage,' fornication, ordaining priestesses and homosexuals, occult "New Age' practices, 'dismantling' the Church, defying the Vatican's authority, redefining God, and more. He should stop thumbing his nose at Pope John Paul II and leave office
While Kaiser was scathingly indignant about Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s orthodox theology, he was curiously enraptured by those who would deny our Lord, including but not limited to prominent New World Religion proponent Leonard Swidler. Now Swidler is a name well known to me. One of his closest confidants is Jordan’s Prince Hassan, who currently serves as President of the Club of Rome. I’ve kept internet archived files on Swidler for the past few years. I even tried to get him on my radio program once. Luckily for Swidler, he was out of the country and unavailable for that booking. I had planned to use him as Exhibit A to demonstrate the intensity and determination of New Age theologians.
Just what is my issue/problem with “A Church in Search of Itself
”? The answer is contained in the very title. A true church is one in search of God, not itself. Kaiser boasts that Belgian and former Pax Christi head, Cardinal Godfried Danneels (one who also at times claimed to speak out against the New Age Movement) proudly said that his theology ‘changed daily.’ 
Kaiser, an unapologetic proponent of syncretistic change, gives an interesting list of those who were on the short list for the papal replacement. Kaiser says Ratzinger made none of those 2004 lists:Papal Candidate Location Liberal Change or “no Change”
Cardinal Francis Arinze
, Nigeria No Change
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Buenos Aires, Argentina Change
Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Mechelen-Brussel, Belgium Change
Cardinal Ivan Dias
, Bombay, India No Change
Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, São Paulo, Brazil Change
Cardinal Walter Kasper, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome Change
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera
, Mexico City No Change
Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga
. Tegucigapa, Honduras Change
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn
, Vienna No change
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Milan No change
It is more than interesting to note that just about everybody labeled “No change
” spoke out boldly and strongly against
the New Age Movement
. Those on the list indicated for “change
” were considerably more tolerant, if not openly sympathetic to it.
With all the current talk and songs of “New Church”, and writers out there like Robert Blair Kaiser, not to mention the Matthew Foxes, Basil Penningtons, and Thomas Keatings lurking in the background, it appears that Catholic New Agers have not gone away. They merely went underground, but they are resurfacing. Last week I had an anguished call from a local client who was staying with a convent in Rome. Her daughter had called her from
Michigan, USA to say that here local Catholic hospitals are now adopting the very New Age Reikki practices along with the unfortunately usual “healing touch” and other such “transformative technologies.”
My Catholic friends, fasten your spiritual seatbelts and pray for the Pope. As the political agenda of the New Age advances via the European Union, “the men who stare at goats" in the USA military a la Jon Ronson’s analysis, the attempt to again forcibly impose it on Catholics as once happened in the 1980s appears to be once again on the militant march.
The battle is not over. In fact, it may be just beginning. Jesus once said to his apostles, “it is inevitable but that evil comes, but woe to him through whom it comes
A word to the spiritually wise should be sufficient!
Kaiser, Robert Blair. A CHURCH IN SEARCH OF ITSELF: Benedict XVI and the Battle for the Future. New York: Knof Books, 2006. Page 131.
Kaiser, op. cit., page 131.
Quoted from http://www.originaldissent.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16878.html
4/2/2006, 10:21 PM
Kaiser claims that Cardinal Danneels, once head of Pax Christi, and even the author of an anti-New Age tract, said that his theology changed daily. Whether that is good or bad, one would suppose, would be the direction in which the theology changes – closer to or further away from Jesus Christ whom he is pledged to serve – closer or further from God the father. I am dismayed to learn that Danneels was so overwrought by the election of the conservative Ratzinger to the papacy. Danneels' purported anti-New Age advocacy, shown to me a few years ago by another anti-New Age author, Donna Steichen, had once given me hope. Disturbingly, Danneels and nine other cardinals would not stay for the impromptu supper served up by the new Pope Benedict XVI. It has a ring of someone else who at times convincingly professed orthodoxy, but would not stay for dinner – Judas Iscariot on the night of our Lord’s Last Supper.
Cardinal Arinze issued a strong statement against “New Religious Movements” including the New Age Movement in 1991, two years even before Pope John Paul II issued the first such statement known to me. See http://www.ewtn.com/library/NEWAGE/ARINNEWM.TXT.
Ivan Cardinal Dias has spoken out against syncretism and the New Age Movement. See, e.g., http://www.ewtn.com/library/NEWAGE/ARINNEWM.TXT.
Cardinal Carrera’s election would not have disappointed me either. He issued a superb condemnation of the New Age Movement, even as some Evangelical cult-watchers were downplaying the threat of the Movement to true Christianity. See http://www.ewtn.com/library/bishops/acall.htm
. Among the topics covered by Cardinal Carrera in that pastoral letter to his Mexico City Catholics were:New Age and the False Hope
, The Rapid Spread of New Age
. New Age Beliefs
, Incompatibility of New Age and the Gospel . Reincarnation
, and Non-Christian Meditation
, Responsibility of Catholics in Face of Confusion
is the one that Rastafarian “Squeakbox” the author of the sycophantic biography of Javier Solana referenced in my last blogspot was so terribly disappointed was not elected pope. He posted that to 2005 comment sections on my then blogspots. This is also the one that well meaning readers frequently and wrongfully confuse with Solana’s grandfather Salvador de Madariaga
. Maradiaga looks similar, but the spellings are distinctly different on closer inspection.
Cardinal Schonburn strongly spoke out against the New Age Movement. Reviewer James Likoudis writes: "Cardinal Schonborn insists on the historical reliability and credibility of the Gospels. He sharply criticizes the New Age movement and emphasizes that "[t}he dogma of original sin is of inestimable importance for the whole structure of the faith" (p.67). He echoes the Rule of St. Benedict, which asserts that "[n]othing should take precedence over the work of God,' that is, solemn worship
" " (p.67). He is reviewing Schonborn’s book, Loving the Church
, By Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Ignatius Press, 1998