Mixing Catholicism with Non-Christian Religions
By Mary Ann Collins (A Former Catholic
In October, 1986, Pope John Paul II convened and led a multi-faith service at Assisi, Italy. Leaders of non-Christian religions participated and publicly prayed to their gods. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, and Zoroastrians participated in this service. So did an Orthodox patriarch and some Protestant leaders.
The video “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith” has film footage of this service. You can see and hear the Dalai Lama chanting, African shamans calling on their gods, and Muslims chanting from the Koran. (See Note 1.)
The altar that was used for the service had a statue of Buddha on top of the Tabernacle (an ornate container for consecrated bread). Catholics believe that consecrated bread is literally the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Putting a statue of Buddha on top of the Tabernacle is, in effect, elevating Budda above Jesus Christ. (A picture is online.)
In 2002, John Paul II convened another multi-faith service in Assisi. Leaders of non-Christian religions participated in the service.
John Paul II visited Benin, where he apologized for the fact that westerners have rejected African religions, including voodoo.
Some Catholic priests have written books that mix Catholicism with non-Christian religions. Anthony de Mello wrote “Sadhana, A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form.” Bede Griffiths wrote “Cosmic Revelation: The Hindu Way to God,” and “The Other Half of My Soul: Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue.” Aelred Graham wrote “Zen Catholicism,” and “Conversations: Christian and Buddhist.” George Maloney wrote “Mysticism and the New Age.” John J. Heaney wrote “The Sacred and the Psychic: Parapsychology & Christian Theology.”
In America, there is a Catholic-Hindu “house of prayer.” It has a statue of Shiva (the Hindu god of destruction), a statue of Buddha, and a crucifix. People who come there use mantras and Eastern meditation techniques. The “house of prayer” is popular and is usually filled to capacity. The local archbishop approves of it, and his diocese supports it financially.
In India, there is a Benedictine monastery that is modeled after a Hindu ashram. The members of the community admire Hindu gods and goddesses. The founder (Bede Griffiths) says that Hindu temples are a “sacrament.” He teaches that Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims are all “brothers in Christ.”
Catholic theologian Richard Grigg believes that Americans should replace the God of the Bible with “the Goddess.” He wrote the book, “When God Becomes Goddess: The Transformation of American Religion.”
Thomas Merton is a modern Catholic monk who is widely known. He was a mystic who promoted contemplative prayer. Merton believed that all mystical experiences were valid, no matter what the source they came from. He wanted to see all of the religions of the world become united. Merton is widely admired among Buddhists, some of whom consider him to be a reincarnated Buddha. He is also admired by New Agers. One spirit medium believes that Merton has become an Ascended Master.
Merton said that there is “no contradiction” between Catholicism and Buddhism. He went even further, saying “I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.”
In Indonesia, there is a convent where one of the nuns is both a Roman Catholic and a devout Muslim. Five times a day, she goes to the mosque to pray. She keeps the Ramadan fast, and at the end of Ramadan, her convent has a party. The local imam (Muslim cleric who heads the mosque) was a guest at the post-Ramadan party. The Catholic/Muslim nun hopes to go to visit Mecca some day.
See also Is this America? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
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