MADRID, Spain, JULY 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- New Age thinking has been penetrating Catholic realms, says an adviser to the Argentine bishops’ conference.
José Baamonde established the Service for the Elucidation of Sects and New Religious Movements (SPES) Foundation, in 1989. He currently heads the foundation’s documentation-and-research section.
In the context of a congress on “Psychological Manipulation, Sectarian Groups and Other Alternative Movements,” which closed Saturday at Madrid’s Autonomous University, Baamonde gave a lecture on “The Permeability of New Age in Religions.”
According to the expert, a fundamental element of New Age is man’s self-divinization, explained as follows: “God is within me; God and I are one same conscience; I am God.”
Baamonde applied this process to the Silva Method of mind control, a typical practice of this new spirituality, which “is practiced even by some priests and nuns.”
New Age is “the great challenge of the present century for society,” he added, because “it raises flags such as pacifism, universal brotherhood and ecology, which can hardly be challenged by the public of a society that increasingly lacks a true formation.”
Baamonde, who is a professor of psychology at Madrid’s San Pablo-CEU University, also warned against “the capacity of New Age concepts to subtly impregnate even those who practice classic and traditional religions, including the Catholic” faith.
In this connection, he recalled Pope John Paul II’s words to a group of U.S. bishops in 1993: “At times New Age ideas make headway in preaching, catechesis, congresses and retreats, and thus succeed in influencing even practicing Catholics, who perhaps are not aware of the incompatibility of those ideas with the faith of the Church.”
Baamonde demonstrated the point with a survey of the SPES Foundation, which canvassed 1,098 young people, in the fourth year of Argentine Catholic secondary schools in Buenos Aires and other cities.
Six of the main topics of New Age were selected: UFOs and extraterrestrials; magic and witchcraft; reincarnation; astrology; communication with the dead; and divination. The young people were asked about their degree of belief and adherence, and about the means of access to these issues.
The result: more than 50% of those surveyed showed belief in one or more of the New Age tenets, Baamonde said. UFOs got a higher percentage, while belief in reincarnation received a lower percentage.
Asked how they learned about the topics, most of the young people said “television, books and magazines.”
Alpha and omega
“It is manifest that the disorientation in regard to the topics included in the present study not only affects young people but also families, reinforcing the conviction of the importance of implementing family catechesis,” Baamonde said.
He concluded: “New Age gains followers day by day with the final objective, they say, of erasing universal borders to achieve the creation of a supra-religion where man is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end of all things, thus achieving a caricature of religion: It is no longer man who is created in the image and likeness of God but God who is created in the image and likeness of man.”