Benedict’s Choice Is No Choice

The Question: In his speech to U.S. bishops last week, Pope Benedict XVI said: “Any tendency to treat religion as … Continued

The Question: In his speech to U.S. bishops last week, Pope Benedict XVI said: “Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted . . . To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?

The Pope was on a mission to do more than inspire. He came to stop the steady sinking of a leaky boat. Faced with declining membership and widespread disgruntlement, the Catholic Church in America shows every sign of emptying out its parish churches and cathedrals. They are already empty, more or less, in Europe. Therefore the phrase “private matter” means, “Don’t go off on your own.” And faith losing its soul is code for a familiar theme to lay Catholics: without the Mother Church you are lost.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, this Pope helped to enunciate a papal edict in the late 80s that condemned meditation and specifically mentioned Eastern meditation. Finding your own soul path is anathema to the Church hierarchy. As early as Constantine’s conversion in the fourth century the bishops in Rome were condemning the Gnostics as heretics, and although it’s not entirely clear what the Gnostics believed or who they were, their enemies saw them as anti-authority. Ordinary men and women could lead a Gnostic congregation as the spirit moved them. Salvation was seen as a personal matter between the worshipper and God. Revelation of inner mysteries took precedence over official dogma.

The Gnostics were brutally expunged, but their strain of Christianity could never be fully suppressed. (One aspect, rejecting the need for intercession through saints and the Virgin Mary, formed the core of Protestantism.) Individual seeking holds enormous appeal today as millions of people take up their own spiritual journey — a decidedly “private matter” — and ignore the Church’s threat that they will lose their souls in the process. Yet the Pope, however conservative and dogmatic he sounds, brings up a genuine threat. Can any of us be our own spiritual teachers? There’s something arrogant and deluded in complete autonomy, as if we can rely on our own egos to defeat the shortcomings of the ego. After all, we don’t ask surgeons to operate on themselves. Without guidance from a wisdom tradition — and whatever else it may be, the Church does embody such a tradition — the individual seeker runs a huge risk of being distracted and misled, not by the powers of darkness but by an ego-personality that will do anything not to let go of its cherished habits, beliefs, and conditioning.

I think the Pope realizes this, but it would be better if he conceded that those who have gone on a private search for God had good reasons for doing so. Tradition had begun to shackle them more than it liberated and guided them. Italy, the home country of Catholicism in Europe, has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. This implies a resort to contraception, and yet Church dogma calls that a sin, forcing its parishioners into Hobson’s choice. They are free to seek a relationship with God; it just has to be entirely on the Church’s terms. Modern Christians won’t stand for that the way they did in the great ages of faith. That’s why they have been silently walking away — they’re voting with their feet. If Pope Benedict wants to draw them back in, he needs to acknowledge reality. The vote has already been taken. He had better start a new race and offer a better set of policies.

  • Ryan Haber

    Dr. Chopra,You wisely perceive that a person with only his own ego to guide him will never escape the confines of his ego. What of the Church? If she allows herself to be guided by the egos of her members, she will never escape the confines of their egos. More immediately, she will sink into the morass we usually call “politics” where polls take priority over principles.The Catholic Church’s main, underlying, and final contention, before, above, beneath, and after everything else is this: her faith is NOT an attempt to find God, as other faiths are, but rather a gift from God who has been trying to find us. “The people who walked in great darkness, behold, they have seen a great light,” Isaiah says (Isa 9:2). Our contention is that while others have sought after God and found only glimpses, through no merit or worth of our own but as a free gift, He has revealed himself to us. (That, coincidentally, is why we are unabashed about trying to share this light with others – and woe to us when we obscure it with our sins!)The Church, if she did anything less than remain completely faithful to all of the teachings of her Lord and God, would be a faithless tramp rather than the bride He is preparing Her (us) to be for Him.But in the end, the criticism of the Church that we see throughout the liberal West really comes down to your last statement, Dr. Chopra, doesn’t it. That’s why not a peep is heard about the great financial expense and insolvency incurred by the Episcopals (US Anglicans) in their sex abuse scandals, or about the public schools in theirs. Because with contraception, to use your example, they have been quite willing to follow the drumbeat of the popular culture – or to lead it that way, for that matter.—As a side note, something I am going to start pointing out more frequently, people think that we Catholics are brainwashed by once-a-week fifteen minute homilies (which are usually rather dull and bland – really, come and listen, it’s probably the best way to keep you from becoming Catholic!) and a couple years of once-a-week hour-long religious “education”. That’s a joke. We would have to be the most pliable people in the world to be brainwashed by such dull dishwater stuff.The barrage of the public schools, the entire entertainment industry, universities almost universally, and our political leadership and corporate establishment amounts to: “Sex with whomever is OK. Just use a condom. Have lots of sex all the time. It’ll make you happy. Just use a condom. We’re only (well-evolved) animals, so have lots of sex, but just use a condom (even though no animal does). Buy this sports car, dish detergent, cigarrette, or bubble gum and you’ll get this girl, and be able to have lots of sex with her. Poor Africans, and you, for that matter, can’t control themselves. Just use a condom.” And this incessant, nearly 24-hour-a-day barrage, by contrast, hasn’t at all affected, let alone brainwashed, the psyche of Westerners, has it?No, it’s those of us who don’t use contraception that are brainwashed. Right.And everyone else out there with all the broken homes, spouse/child/senior abuse, promiscuity hopping from bed to bed looking for something – they’re all so happy, that we Catholics should drop our 2000 year old tradition to follow their spectacularly successful and joy-making sexual revolution of the last 50 years. Right.—Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus Christ is Lord, and beside Him there is no other.

  • Paul J. Wigowsky

    I agree with the Washington Post article.

  • Paul Burdett

    The Pope has said that he would welcome more fervent, obedient to the Church’s teachings, Catholic, even if the numbers were smaller. Better to have half as many fervent Catholics, than twice as many lukewarm ones…

  • Azureangel

    It is my understanding that the numbers of Catholics are increasing. It is only that there are less men becoming priests in some areas, that is causing some of the churches to close as they need to have a priest to administer the sacraments, particularly holy communion. I know of several locations in different states where one priest must attend to three different churches. Many priests are retiring…. they have a mandatory retirement age of 75. Others have left the pulpit due to physical health problems, a few have married, and there are fewer young men entering seminaries to become priests. But there are others, older men who are becoming Catholic priests from other religions and there are more becoming deacons.If I have erred in any of this information, it may be that as a Catholic Christian for only six years, I could be misinformed, but I do pay close attention to what is going on in the Church. I was uplifted and inspired and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI in his visit in America last week.

  • Madia McCartney

    His way makes more money!

  • Avik Mukherjee

    is God a private property of the Church or the religious (so-called)Gurus? all the religions of the world teach us that God is all-pervasive – He is everywhere. the simple reason why these people want to make God a private property is simple – it’s business & not spiritual well-being. i have analyzed all the steps that these people (read fundamentalists) take and here is a step-by-step guide to do it.1. make people believe that they are mere puppets in God’s hands & that they have no control over their lives. everything has been planned beforehand and all that is going on, are simply predetermined acts.2. make them believe that the only way that they can change their lives is by offering valuable items to God (read priests).3. propagate that the only route to God is temple or church or masjid or whatever. that is unless one goes to these places and offer precious gifts to God, He won’t be pleased. please stop for a while and ponder on this point my friends. doesn’t it sound as if someone is trying to BRIBE God? can God be pleased like this? God is a concept that has been formed to guide us when we face innumerable provocations. we rely on God for answers to questions that we cannot answer ourselves. so, the priests of these places of worship and the fundamentalists, took it on to themselves to play the role of God, or the sole path to God. what we get to hear as the words of God, is nothing but the words of these people. these fundamentalists do not even understand the meaning of the word ‘religion’ and what it teaches. i welcome views on the teachings of religion. let’s debate on this. i will give my views very soon.

  • worth

    The Church is not a website or a newspaper trying to drive pageviews or circulation stats. This Pope is trying to get the Church back to being the Church, rather than trying to pander or succumb to pop fads or morays. If that means less people want to be Catholic, so be it.

  • perplexed

    Since much of religion consists of metaphysical fabrications that people either choose to believe in or not, why then should particular religious beliefs be allowed to influence public policy in any way?? The Founders were practical to the point of understanding how influential religious belief was and still is, in terms of governing the behavior of believers – but on the other hand, not so much on the part of non-believers. In an almost preternatural inspiration of fairness, they decided that religion should be reserved for the religious – and that the machinery of government should be free of the special interests of religion in so far as possible….otherwise, government might thereby be compromised and may not be able to fairly serve the interests of the many. Even then, the great diversity of beliefs regarding the sacred and the profane were widely recognized – and yet, it was recognized that all must ideally be governed equally and fairly under the law. Separation of church and state is indeed such an implied protection. Religions are many, and none can be proven to be superior to any other in terms of the validity of their underlying principles or belief structure. Religion is for the most part based on mythology – the literal truth of religion just isn’t…..except through contrived misunderstandings and creatively inspired dogma that suited the purposes of the early founders of said religions. Much of religion seems to be based on administrative decisions tendered by clerical hierarchies, as much as anything – Papal authority represents this tradition like no other.Politics today now reeks of religion in a truly unholy alliance designed for inordinate control of government by the few – as if we didn’t already suffer enough from the collusion of corporate interests and their lobbyist attack/lap dogs. Has Congress become completely powerless in the face of these forces, or simply corrupted by their own self-interest? On the other hand, our Supreme Court is dominated by Catholics that very much follow Vatican protocal in terms of their ultra-conservative persuasions and thinking – is this right?? Probably not – and probably a dominance and coherence in thinking that should never have happened at all. Nevertheless, our government allowed it to happen.In the age of Bush, there are really too many Constitutional transgressions sponsored by the executive branch to count – facilitated by and starting with Bush as president thanks to the Supreme Court ruling that ultimately put him there. At present, the judicial & legislative autonomy of the state (e.g. government for and by the many) is threatened by the over-mastering religious beliefs of the few, not to mention the powerful contiguous corporate and financial interests that have put our very economy and social well being in such jeopardy as we witness today. In addition, there is little doubt that the war in Iraq has played a major role in compromising our economy to a maximum degree. As for human suffering, apart from the dead and otherwise war- wounded, and just among US troops alone, it is estimated that over 300,000 have suffered some degree of closed head injury due to the chronic proximity and exposure to IEDs (explosive devices) in this particular war. How this will play out medically and socially in the years to come is incalculable. Separation of church and state was an excellent idea – will we live to see it again??

  • Ryan Haber

    Azureangel,Yeah, the numbers of Catholics are growing, but so many in the US now practice the faith only nominally or not at all – about 30 of the 60 million. That means that there are about as many practicing Catholics as several generations.The good news is that we have MORE priests per practicing Catholic than at any time in US history – we have always been a missionary territory. The difficulty is that nominally or non-practicing Catholics still usually want baptisms, weddings, and funerals, all of which are very labor intensive for a priest – hours and hours on one or two families who will never show up again. Those non-practicing families who want only spiritual comfort are not, needless to say, sending as many sons to seminary as are the practicing families.That’s where the “priest shortage” comes in big. But for things like Sunday Mass, one priest can do the trick for 80 or 800 people at a time.The “priest shortage” is in all reality generally overstated, both in its historical context and in its scope. It is most severe in the big, old northeastern US cities, where the abandonment of regular practice has been the greatest. Rural places, like Kansas or Alaska or central Michigan have never had “enough priests”, but have also never had many Catholics. In those areas, priests have generally always had to tend to two or three parishes.

  • ahmed from bahrain

    Ralph PowellThe US in the Lord’s prayer actually means ‘me and my brothers who believe in you’. It is a collective prayer encampassing a collective belief.The Quranic prayer of Surat Alhamd (Thanksgiving), has the same approach and very similar prayer. It also says ‘lead us onto the right path’. In Arabic it has the same connotation, meaning those of us who have put our trust in You/God.In the end analysis, faith is a personal matter. As we say in the Middle East, each person sleeps in his/her own grave. Which means personal responsibility for personal actions. No soul carries the burden of another is another Quranic belief.However, when every individual believes that we are all ONE, regardless of our shape or size; read race or religions; we become to know the One Creator who in His own wisdom created us as ONE race yet with many variances right down to our thumb prints.So, why do we bicker on who is right when we all can be right, if our destination is the same. Consider the one who approaches Rome from East has a different route to the one who approaches Rome from the West. He too is your brother or sister in humanity.Peace.

  • Paganplace

    A couple-thousand-year tradition of blaming anyone not sexually-obeying the Church for everything wrong in the world, perhaps, Ryan?The ‘Sexual revolution’ didn’t produce abuse, nor did condoms. It’s not a question of people ‘not being able to control themselves,’ …it’s about churches not being able to control *others.* I see the commercialism of the corporate society that also sells a religious agenda in politics as another side of the same coin: both the Church and the advertising play off each other but are essentially saying the same thing: sex and pleasure are inherently selfish, empty, and ‘tempting:’ …the Church, of course, says, ‘Buy into religion as an external source of constraint against this nasty stuff, and the resulting repression leaves a sex-sized hole in people’s lives which the corporate establishment is all too happy to sell endless substitutes to try, unsuccessfully, of course, to fill that hole. It’s like people are offered a frustrating choice between starvation and gluttony, and any moderation they work out is pretty much on their own, anyway. Claiming that abuse of all kinds doesn’t occur within observant Catholic and Christian homes and communities is just the same kind of blindness that let the sex abuse by priests go on so long, actually. Why the abuse in other denominations gets so little coverage, well, ask the media on that one. We’re agreed that ‘jumping from bed to bed looking for something,’ as you seem to characterize the whole rest of the world, isn’t very productive, but, frankly, it shouldn’t be that hard to *find what it is,* if so many still weren’t primed to see it as a struggle between ‘chaste virtue’ and ‘selfish excess.’ Catholicism, to my experience, *teaches* people to see things in such dichotomies, never questioning if one should accept that whole worldview in the first place.Blaming people’s ‘disobedience’ to external Christian control, and saying ‘Blame the liberals for everything,’ isn’t going to improve the information people are basing their decisions on, …and they *will* make decisions, whatever you do, and even if they, themselves, think they’re obeying something or are ‘out of control.’In some ways, this notion that religion ought to be kept to yourselves when you come out of your churches and try and make life harder for people isn’t that you’re unwelcome in society, but that you treat the rest of the world like it’s still *the inside* of your churches, whether the people you’re spouting at have heard it before or not. Certainly, coming out and defaming and disenfranchising people cause *you* don’t think the government enforces your will on people not of your religion *sufficiently,* even to the point of trying to get the state to pass off religious belief as ‘science,’ …to the point of trying to enforce your *tabooes* in place of working on *problems,* well, that proves noxious to a civil society.That’s not contributing to the wider world, that’s putting yourself *above* it. Speaking of ego.

  • perspective

    “The Second Coming”Turning and turning in the widening gyreSurely some revelation is at hand;William Butler Yeats

  • Arminius

    Ahmed from Bahrain:Thank you for that beautiful post. You are right – we are all God’s children, and there are many paths up that mountain.God bless,Arminius

  • Nivedita

    Its amazing that the Pope encouraging conversions and preaching that the Catholic faith is the only way to God sounds eerily like the Romans condemning Jesus because he thought differently from what they did. How the victims of yore have become the perpetrators of religious fundamentalism today!

  • Anna

    I just had the visit of an old friend of the family, a catholic bishop. So of course we discussed matters of faith. I myself are no longer member of the catholic church. The main theme was the boring practices of the mass, especially the sermons and all this stuff they read of the Old Testament. My suggestion was to introduce meditation – or contemplation as they call it – into the mass to give the “sheep” some mental-tools for self-knowledge. However it seems that this is something the church does not want. They define the church as a collective with the priest as mediators to God. If they continue as they do now I cannot imagine that anybody is really interested in their statements or dogmas. They are just too narrow sighted!

  • mary Karr

    The Pope in all his elegant pomp and arrogance cannot know the answer for all people. I see such hypocracy in his idealized views. How dare he have the audacity to come over here and tell us of our sins while he is harboring crimanals in Vatican City. I was a Catholic, but can no longer believe in a one person ran dynasty backed up by more old grey haired men who have not a clue.

  • mo

    wisdom tradition.the brain and wisdom was/is giving to mankind by the creator of heavens and earth ,adam and eve when descandant on the plant earth ,they carried brain and they carried wisdom. what is the original wisdom of mankind ?and what is the brain washing?and how to wash the brain washing? what alters the original brain and wisdom of mankind?in search of wisdom tradition mankind should never forget his original identity and original lineage and original heritage,any mankind in his/her right mind should sit down and ask what did i inherted from adam and eve beside 2hands,2legs 2eyes and the rest of the physicals?what is the wisdom beyond this life ?what wisdom do i need to live and pass this life nice and safe?what is wisdom? and what is un- wisdom?where adam and eve received their first wisdom?what is the main stream of wisdom?and what is the deviation?to scope this life we need the brain and we need the divine revelation to mankind from the creator of mankind.

  • Willie Buck Merle

    DC,

  • Observer

    Mr. Chopra,”Yet the Pope, however conservative and dogmatic he sounds, brings up a genuine threat. Can any of us be our own spiritual teachers?”There’s something arrogant and deluded in complete autonomy, as if we can rely on our own egos to defeat the shortcomings of the ego.”After all, we don’t ask surgeons to operate on themselves. Without guidance from a wisdom tradition — and whatever else it may be, the Church does embody such a tradition — the individual seeker runs a huge risk of being distracted and misled, not by the powers of darkness but by an ego-personality that will do anything not to let go of its cherished habits, beliefs, and conditioning.”I don’t agree.After all, the “wisdom traditions”, that you say we “solitary seekers” require, were invented by other “solitary seekers”, who did not rely on “wisdom traditions” to find their way.

  • VICTORIA

    soja- you are misrepresenting father thomas keating- the “longstanding contemplative tradition” you refer to is teresa of avilla- and the method of “christian” (not catholic) meditation you are speaking of- has been specifically addressed and warned against by both popes. actually, you have offered an excellent example of the very meaning of “private matter being rejected” the pope was speaking about-

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    To ANNA:There is a long standing contemplative tradition in the Catholic church. If you were still a Catholic, it would have been worth your while to explore it. There are Christian meditation groups for lay people. Look up a Fr Thomas Keating group in your area if you are really serious about Christian meditation.Unlike the Protestant Churches, which follows only one form of worship and spiritual worship, the Catholic Church has a wide array of spiritual practices to choose from although the Mass and other Sacraments remain a common denominator for all. But not all are publicly announced, none of them is marketed. The path of contemplative nuns and priests, is not announced to the general public, for the contemplative form of prayer is not the ideal spiritual path for everyone and is sought after only by extremely few, even among priests and nuns.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    The Catholic Church needs to inform all its parishioners about the spiritual wealth available to them within the faith tradition and provide them with a directory of sources in their area/country. As it turns out many are seeking for greater depth in their spirituality beyond the Mass on Sunday.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Fr Thomas Keating, an American Benedictine monk, has organized voluntary meditation groups around the US, and is extending his network to ther countries. Please look up his website called Contemplative Outreach: coutreach.org

  • Susan

    Raised as a Catholic, I turned away in my mid-twenties. The inequity to women the bearers of

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    VictoriaFr Thomas Keating and others like him are not banned by the Pope. They continue to remain priests and form and lead meditation groups in whatever capacity they choose to. What exactly constitutes validation? Could you provide exact reference to the warnings issued by the Popes against meditation?There is more to the contemplative tradition of the Catholic Church than St Theresa of Avila. She is one of the doctors of the Church. There are other prominent doctors of the Church and saints who were contemplatives.Giving spiritual guidance in the contemplative method of prayer requires that the person giving guidance should have gone the same spiritual path over many years and reached great spiritual maturity. A half baked spiritual person can do more harm than good to a spiritual seeker. Catholic clergy who feel called to intense contemplative prayer usually join contemplative orders. The parish priests do not fit such a category. They are simply too busy with ministering to the parishioners and doing administrative stuff to spend much time in contemplative prayer, even if they felt called to such a form of prayer. When the Pope advices every parishioner to start meditating and every parish priest to be a spiritual guide to them, great confusion could ensue. The Church does not prevent any lay Catholic from seeking out monks and priests like Fr Thomas Keating to guide them along their spiritual journey. One should not see it as a shortcoming that the Catholic Church does not allow everyone to set up shop according to their whim. Checking and discerning the spirit slows down the process, but it makes sure that charlatans posing as spiritual gurus, do not mislead the flock. Hindu ascetics who became gurus worthy of trust, had to spend decades out there in the wild meditating intensely in the harshest of conditions. Nobody keeps track of the thousands of Hindus who go out alone in search of God and gurudom and get completely lost and go out of their minds. The Catholic Church keeps track of their religious who set out on such journeys to prevent such disasters.

  • VICTORIA

    yes soja- both popes have warned against the mixing of religious traditions that are the base, specifically – of the “christian” (again, not catholic) meditation taught by father keating. and misleading the flock, setting up shop on their own- are the exact warnings of the church. so it’s a misrepresentation to state that father keating is has the imprimatur of papal authority. i think you just were not aware of this. as a catholic, do you submit to the authority of the pope?

  • Athena

    For those who wish for a more ecstatic experience, the Catholic Charismatics use a lot of the same terminology and worship practice as the Protestant Pentecostals. They focus more on the Holy Spirit than on the Father or the Son. The Charismatic movement began at Notre Dame University, but is now dominated more by the African and Latin American parishioners. Unfortunately, the Charismatics aren’t as great in number – probably because a lot of them left to become Pentecostals or to join “non-denominational” mega-churches.

  • Mike L.

    Since Benedict’s comment is in regards to religion and he claims to be a follower of Christ, I would not be out of harmony with his thinking. If the word “private” is used to mean “restricted to the individual” then treating religion as a private matter would be out of harmony with what Jesus taught and would not be appropriate for a Christian.

  • Free To Be Myself

    I have always loved God, and have always felt the closest to God outside even as a child. I have a difficult time attending church when the majority of the service is dedicated politics. I Have no desire to hear politics when I came to hear the word of God and spend time in HIS house, so now I just spend my time outside with Him in His house of beauty outside.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Victoria, Fr Thomas Keating and others like him are not banned by the Pope. They continue to remain priests and form and lead meditation groups in whatever capacity they choose to. What exactly constitutes validation? Could you provide exact reference to the warnings issued by the Popes against meditation, even against Christian meditation?Non-Catholics as far as I know (except Eastern Orthodox Christians) have no contemplative tradition. Victoria, I was baptized in a Syro-Malabar Church; I received my First Holy Communion in the same denomination. I was given Confirmation by a Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and attended Sunday school also in same Church. Not once was I asked the question you ask me, nor was I accused of wiggling all over the place. I’m considered a full fledged Catholic. The Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala is autonomous, follows a Syrian-rite liturgy, but it remains a part of the Roman Catholic Church. So may I ask you on what authority and to what purpose, you, as an ex-Catholic and a current Muslim ask me this question? I don’t think for a moment that you really understand Catholicism. Your meaningless question proves it. You seem to be poorly informed about the contemplative tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    FREE TO BE MYSELF:It is a pity that the Church you attended devoted much of its time to discuss politics. The Catholic Mass is the same everywhere in the world. It re-enacts the Last Supper. The ritual is extremely beautiful and meaning if one does not attend Mass in a mechanical fashion. The sermon alone is left up to the priest, although the Bible reading is predetermined for all Catholic churches.You have heard that the music in Catholic Churches can be great. You might like to pop into a great RC church one day to check out my words for yourself. You don’t have to go again if you don’t like it. Nature as God’s temple is always open, before and after Mass.

  • Ryan Haber

    Paganplace,I am not sure that you are still reading this blog. If you are, I’ll respond here, so just drop a line if you care to.Ryan

  • VICTORIA

    soja- since you stated on the front page that you are indeed in submission to papal authority, you know i like to finish and clarify points before i move on to new ones.

  • CarleyHeilgeist

    I think that the Pope needs to stick the business of his choice, the Catholic church, And let the rest of us choose and stick to our own.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Victoria, I have posted my response to your questions on the main thread and asked you a few questions regarding your spiritual journey.It would be helpful if you would post the reference to the Pope’s comments against Christian meditation and condemnation of work done by Fr Thomas Keating.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Victoria, I’m unable to post here for some reason. Hope this will get through.I have posted a response on the main thread. I have asked you a few questions.Please give reference to the Pope’s remarks against Christian meditation and against the practice of Christian meditation by Fr Thomas Keating.

  • Hollis P.

    There is nothing about Religion that isn’t personal. That is the whole truth. It is in it’s entirety about each persons relationship with God, not the Church. It has nothing to do with where or how you worship. It has nothing to do with how beautiful the ritual is. It has nothing to do with anything else. It is about your personal relationship with God.

  • Pat

    I agree with your accessment. By the Pope’s apparant attempt at the use of guilt, he will just push more people away. Actually I don’t think that God judges us, why should the Pope and other church ministers? New thought churches are filled with past Catholics trying to undue all the harm.

  • Pat

    I agree with your accessment. By the Pope’s apparant attempt at the use of guilt, he will just push more people away. Actually I don’t think that God judges us, why should the Pope and other church ministers? New thought churches are filled with past Catholics trying to undue all the harm.

  • Pat

    I agree with your accessment. By the Pope’s apparant attempt at the use of guilt, he will just push more people away. Actually I don’t think that God judges us, why should the Pope and other church ministers? New thought churches are filled with past Catholics trying to undue all the harm.

  • Pat

    I agree with your accessment. By the Pope’s apparant attempt at the use of guilt, he will just push more people away. Actually I don’t think that God judges us, why should the Pope and other church ministers? New thought churches are filled with past Catholics trying to undue all the harm.

  • Christie

    Since Benedict’s comment is in regards to religion and he claims to be a follower of Christ, I would not be out of harmony with his thinking. If the word “private” is used to mean “restricted to the individual” then treating religion as a private matter would be out of harmony with what Jesus taught and would not be appropriate for a Christian.

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How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

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God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

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The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

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Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.