Effects of New Age and Sects in Latin America

According to Professor Silvio Cajiao of Colombia

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2004 (ZENIT.org).- Silvio Cajiao of Bogota, Colombia, presented this talk a theologians videoconference held Feb. 27. The Vatican Congregation for Clergy organized the worldwide event on «The Church, New Age and Sects.»

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The Effect of New Age and Sects in Latin America
Professor Silvio Cajiao

The Churches arising form the Protestant reform have found deep-roots in Latin America through groups emigrating from Europe due to the two World Wars, or in search of better economic opportunities.

The so-called free churches derive precisely from churches that, starting in the United States, set up massive missions in South America after the 1950s and tried to consolidate their positions among the poorer people.

More recently, between 1975 and 1985, they have become independent and started an unprecedented multiplication in the form of fundamentalist trends, some with a right-wing political inspiration.

During the 1990s the new pseudo-scientific religious movements appeared; one should classify the New Age phenomenon, which has had an impact mainly on the young and the higher classes, within this context.

Doctrinal proposals

The currents coming from the Reform churches and their later adaptation to Latin America have based their religious practice on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Word, with a marked accentuation of the fear of God and the need to be bound to one’s «own» religious group to escape eternal perdition, hence the emphasis placed on escatologism.

Redemption comes more from faith in Jesus Christ than from the human answer. The currents incorporated in the New Age phenomenon, due to a strong oriental influence, are characterized by pantheistic and neo-Gnostic visions, in which God’s reality as a human being is denied; Jesus Christ’s personal identity is confused with a messiah characterized by multiple manifestations in various world religious leaders, while the Holy Spirit is reduced to an interior force to be discovered.

Interior responsibility and the person vanish, because this is a deterministic vision accepting reincarnation. It professes to be a form of scientific knowledge.


The main damage might consist in the introduction of cultural elements extraneous to the Catholic Christian tradition which — although in some environments mingled with syncretic elements — has however resulted in a force of unity and cohesion for the subcontinent; on the other hand, commitment to transform social structures is at times neglected.


Faced with this powerful progress there is a need for a renewal of the communities, both diocesan and parish, and following the outline provided by ecclesial models previously experienced, relying on a greater participation of lay people accompanied by good biblical, spiritual and catechetic training, taking advantage of the powerful means of mass communication. All this while supporting social commitment in the battle for justice according to the choices made in Medellin, Puebla and Santo Domingo, alongside an invitation to a new evangelization.

With «Ecclesia in America» we are faced with a challenge of renewal in terms of a call to authentically following Jesus Christ, representing a prophetic sign when confronted with fundamentalisms ad extremisms within the framework of a wise renewal.

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