A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in New Zealand
To whom it may concern,
I am placing the following report at the service of all the faithful, from Bishop to lay person within the Catholic Church in New Zealand.
I write this report as I could not in good conscience keep quiet about the discovery of a most sinister and destructive movement that threatens our Church. Judging by their activities, it seems clear that some members of the Church in New Zealand have taken on a substitute for the Catholic Faith, and seek to transform the Church in New Zealand in this new direction. This substitute is in fact a Neo-pagan movement, which has at its heart the “Goddess Cult”, the Goddess being a deity which is the end result of feminist theological thought.
I came across this movement while investigating links between dissident groups within the Church in New Zealand and the major international “Catholic” dissent groups. It is clear that dissent is behind the errors that are arising here. The driver behind the “Goddess Cult” is feminism, which dissenters have placed higher than the Revelation entrusted to the Church. Sadly the ranks of the “Goddess Cult” are mainly made up of religious orders of nuns for whom feminism is the new orthodoxy, and prime amongst them seem to be key members of the Sisters of Mercy. As nuns are a mainstay in Church structures they wield influence well beyond their numbers.
In this report I do not set out to attack or defame anyone, but rather put into the public domain the actions, words and associations of a number of individuals of great influence in order to help curb the subversion that is going on.
It is a grave scandal that such a thing exists ‘within’ the Church, a scandal that has not gone unnoticed. During the course of my investigation I found there are many articles on this movement but more importantly I found out several publications are looking into this very subject in New Zealand to write articles. Due to these articles this scandal was going to hit us publicly and hard with or without this report. At least now, the Catholic Church in New Zealand has a chance to react, and it is on our reaction that we will be judged: by the public and the faithful.
This report is divided into three main sections. The first looks at some of the networks by which the neo-pagan movement operates, as well as their links to international “Catholic” dissent groups. The second focuses on the Catholic Religious Education curriculum in New Zealand, looking at why it should be scrapped and at the neo-pagan influences on it. The third, comprising of the last four chapters, rounds off the report focusing on how these dissent networks affect Church actions; works dissenters have published; and the costs of the culture of dissent within the Church. The report ends with conclusions and some recommendations.
We are experiencing a “Crisis of Faith” which is not unique to New Zealand, nor is it new. In 1993 Pope John Paul II urged the American Bishops to combat what he termed a "bitter, ideological feminism” which he said had led to "forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols" usurping traditional celebrations of the Christian faith.
This is precisely what we are facing in the Church in New Zealand. It must be stopped.
St Michael, Defender of the Church, Pray for us
Simon Dennerly 2007
Pantheism: meaning “All is God” sees God and creation as one and the same i.e. no separation between Grace and Nature as well as there being no personal God. God is not perfect so God/Creation is constantly changing. The main focus of Modern Pantheism worship is environmental concern/activism.
Feminist Theology: : feminist theology is experience oriented, that is a creation of humans, it clearly goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church which, in Vatican II, states that the Catholic Faith has been divinely revealed by God. Feminist theology is also behind the promotion of goddess, a long-time pagan concept, and seeks to remove the so-called patriarchal theological bias through implementation of "inclusive language," "God the Mother" and "Sophia/Christ."
Neo-Paganism: Neo-paganism is the reconstruction of Pagan beliefs and practices. Feminist theology tends to be attracted to pagan images and views of divinity as paganism has many female deities. An example is Wicca created by Gerald Gardener (1884-1965). The Encyclopedia of American Religions states "rather than being initiated into a pre-existing Wiccan religion, it appears that Gardner created the new religion out of numerous pieces of Eastern religions and Western occult and magical material."
Goddess: The Goddess is the pantheistic Female deity which is sometimes represented by pagan goddesses or Sophia, and some times portrayed as the Wiccan trinity of Mother/Maiden/Crone. Believers in the Goddess are referred to as the “Goddess Cult”. Some claim that the Goddess is the original and true religion of mankind, although there is no evidence of a monotheistic female deity religion ever existing.
Sophia: Sophia, meaning Wisdom, is the name most used for the Goddess by those of a “Christian” background. Radical Feminists attempt to place Sophia as key to Judaism and the Early Church, although Sophia was a Gnostic deity and Gnosticism appears heavily in the neo-pagan movement.
Gnosticism: From the word Gnosis meaning “knowledge”, Gnosticism is grounded in esoteric and occult mysticism. One of the early Church Heresies was Gnosticism, although it is really another religion. Present day Feminist Theologians see the “Gnostic Gospels” as more reliable than the Bible as they were not written in the “Patriarchal bias context” of canonical scripture.
Spirals: The Spiral pattern is the symbol of the Goddess under neo-paganism, also an Occult Symbol. In New Zealand the Koru design, which is a spiral, is used as a camouflaged version. The spiral is used by Goddess Cult in a similar fashion as in the Early Church, while an underground movement used the fish symbol to ‘hide in the open’.
New Cosmology: Based on secular ideas of evolution, the “New Cosmology” is highly pantheistic in nature. The core belief is the belief the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the complexity of all creation is the result of billions of year’s of evolution, rather than being designed by God. The result of this, according to its proponents, is that we have to “re-invent” all areas of human knowledge including religion. Believers of the “New Cosmology” see Christianity as based on out dated models of cosmology.
“Ungodly Rage: The hidden face of Catholic Feminism”: A book based on a 12 year study of the Neo-Pagan movement “within” the Catholic Church in America.
My investigation began with events surrounding the closure of St Patrick’s Cathedral for renovations and the temporary merger with St Benedict’s, making it the Pro-Cathedral. There was opposition to St Benedict’s becoming the Pro-Cathedral due to a dissenting group which is the source of many scandals in the Diocese, but in the end these protests were overruled.
The first Sunday after the closure of St Patrick’s, some friends and I went to St Benedict’s for Mass. Since we had a small child with us we sought to go to an earlier Mass than the 7pm that we usually went to, and decided to go to the one listed at 5:30pm. When we arrived we were greeted with a sign that said “Mass will be held in the Crypt”. It is hard to say whether this service is a “Mass” at all, - it is called a ‘Shared Liturgical Leadership’ a type of communion service (although they call it a “Mass” despite the Bishop instructing them not to). It is run by the dissident group known as the ‘five thirty’ (as in the “5:30pm service” which was formerly held at 5 pm).
I decided to go to experience first hand the Shared Liturgical Leadership after hearing so many stories about it for many years. I would describe what I witnessed as rebellious and anti-Catholic. I went to observe for a period of three months after my first experience so the following description is not based on only one encounter. The service did not conform to liturgical norms as set out in Redemptionis Sacramentum, to which all Eucharistic services are meant to adhere. To be clear when I mean does not conform to liturgical norms I mean: open communion is practiced (communion given to non-Catholics, practicing homosexuals, divorced and remarried etc.), lay people ‘concelebrate’ with the priest, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and the priest receive communion after everyone else, lay people preach the homilies etc, to name a handful of abuses.
There is always a priest present although they usually only perform the consecration and only sometimes the homily. It is significant that it is held in the Crypt (basement) as internationally dissidents groups have their “Masses” in the Crypts (basements) of Church’s or at member’s houses and not in the Church proper. This is mainly so other Catholics cannot witness what is said and done. I point all of this out so the reader may gain an understanding of how the 5:30pm ‘Shared Liturgical Leadership’ is very dissenting in nature and is more akin to liberal protestant services than a Catholic Mass.
What was significant for my first experience at the 5:30pm was the ‘Lay Homily’ that was given. It started off with what was meant to be a humorous story but then turned into the most venomous attack against the Church. There were the usual dissent issues such as allowing divorced people to remarry, recognising homosexuality, women’s ordination etc. There was comment on two recent events. The first was World Youth Day, with the ‘lay homilist’ stating that the bishops who attended were “so very pretentious” as they wore their robes of office (The homilist would no doubt that the bishops be more ‘relevant’ to youth by wearing jeans and t-shirts, clearly misunderstanding the not only the young people of today, but the whole World Youth Day event). The second and most important comment, which led me to begin my investigation, was about the recently ended 2005 Eucharistic Synod.
5:30pm links to international dissent groups
The lay homilist commented, regarding the Synod: “I was disappointed at the bishops’ lack of courage to make some courageous changes”. The full extent of this statement was not made clear till the following Thursday when I read an article from Crisis Magazine (Oct 26 2005) detailing the views of major “Catholic” dissent groups on the Eucharistic Synod including the group “We Are Church.”
The press statement by We Are Church decried the “lack of courage” of the Synod to make changes. We Are Church also stated they wanted the elimination of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation and the doctrine of the Eucharist as a sacrifice as well as married priests and woman’s ordination etc. We Are Church are an umbrella organisation for a number of international Church dissent groups like the excommunicated pro-abortion group Catholics For a Free Choice and Call To Action.
I wondered, amongst other things, whether the statement “lack of courage” used by both We Are Church (IMWAC) and at the 5:30 pm group was more than coincidental. I found the IMWAC website and the full press release on the matter which raised not only the same issues as the 5.30pm homilist, but in the same order, strongly suggesting that the IMWAC press release may have been the source document for the lay homily.
I found on the website that We Are Church had a Yahoo group and signed up. I soon found and contacted one member of the 5:30pm, a Ms Judith Crimmins, and she revealed to me that I would come across many New Zealanders in the group.
So my hunch was confirmed that the 5:30 had a link with We Are Church. This was very alarming considering the 5:30 is attended by a large number of Religious Educators, both secondary and tertiary, for the Auckland Diocese amongst other Church workers and normal lay people. There was another New Zealand group, whose members have signed a document stating they share the same beliefs. This will be looked at later in the report.
It was bad enough to find that there was such a disloyal group to the Church and that they had links to a group that attacked the Church from within. Sadly I discovered a post on the forum which lead me to discover that the state of affairs was far worse than I imagined. I knew that heresy was a major problem with dissenting members of the Church in New Zealand, leading me to see them as neo-protestants, but I would never have expected to discover that some had embraced the apostasy of Neo-Paganism.
Now I will detail the most disturbing finding of my investigation that Neo-paganism is being brought “into” the Catholic Church in New Zealand in the form of the ‘Goddess Cult’.
As I searched the We Are Church forum for other links to New Zealand, I came across what first led me onto this ‘Goddess Cult’. It is important to note how the Yahoo groups system works - someone writes a post and it gets emailed to all the group’s members. Most postings take the form of articles from dissenting publications or press releases from dissenting groups, such as Catholics For a Free Choice who put their pro-abortion material on there, for example.
There was a posting from Judith Crimmins which was an email she received and forwarded onto the IMWAC Group. The email was very brief and to the point: striking me as something for people “in the know”. The email was advertising a public ‘Symposium’ held by Massey University. In the text it had the link to the event schedule and the message:
Also a public lecture same place at 8pm "She Who changes, Re-imagining the Divine in the World"
This does not make sense in itself, as it needs to but linked to the subject heading for the email: “Carol Christ is in NZ”.
I did a web search on Carol Christ to see who she was. I expected to find out she was a Catholic feminist theologian. It turned out Carol Christ is hailed as the founding mother of the modern Goddess movement.
There was a program attached to the email so there was no doubt about the nature of the event. I realised that the whole event, called the “Carol Christ Research Symposium”, was a Neo-Pagan Goddess one. Carol Christ dominated the 6 hour event (and there was another event that evening as mentioned in the email) but others gave talks as well including: "Accessing the Sacred: Cross-cultural methods of trance induction" and “Te Ūkaipō – Te Taiao: the Mother, the Nurturer – Nature”. There was one that mentioned Christianity in the form of “Contemporary Christian Eco-theology”, which my research found to be not very Christian in fact.
I did a search on all the speakers at the ‘Symposium’. The very first speaker I looked up did a lecture session that was titled "Women healing/Healing women the Roman Empire and emerging Christianity" and also chaired a session on: "Accessing the Sacred: Cross-cultural methods of trance induction". The speaker was Elaine Wainwright, who I found out is a Sister of Mercy and the founding Professor of the Auckland University School of Theology, which the Catholic Institute of Theology is part of.
My web research turned up a lot on Elaine Wainwright, especially a series of articles called “The Goddess Cult in the Australia” by ‘The Wanderer’ Catholic Magazine. The series looked at the Neo-pagan Goddess Cult and how it is seeking to transform the Catholic Church in Australia. Here is an extract from an article entitled “The Mercy Nuns and the New Religion”:
This group is made up predominantly members of the Sisters of Mercy, who play an essential role in the transformation of the Church in Australia into a pagan, goddess-worshipping cult
Here is another from the article “Church In Australia Undergoes Rapid Transformation”:
But the Mercy Sisters are a powerhouse in Australia, the lead agents for the institutionalization of goddess worship in the country through the influence of their Womenspace, run by Sr Anne McLay; through their control over seminary formation under academic Sr Elaine Wainwright, one of the most influential radical feminist theologians in Australia; and through their control of religious education and liturgy offices.
In November 2001, Womenspace became the subject of national controversy when Brisbane’s Courier-Mail published an exposé on some of the radical feminist/lesbian/goddess-worshipping seminars it sponsored, most important, a “Spirit of the Goddess” “Maiden Moontime Circle” program for young teen girls which was allegedly designed to introduce them to lesbianism and witchcraft.
You can read the Wanderer articles for yourself for greater detail. For all those who do not know of the Woman Space scandal, here is a quote from the article “Australian Witchcraft and Catholic Nuns”:
Exactly two years ago, Archbishop Bathersby was at the centre of a media storm when the local Courier-Mail reported on the goings-on at the local Mercy Nuns’ Womenspace Centre, which involved occultic lesbian sex rituals, among other atrocities, led by one of the most prominent nun theologians in the archdiocese .
So after the scandal at Womenspace Sr Wainwright became head of the Auckland University School of Theology which is a combination of independent theological schools including the Catholic Institute of Theology. Not surprising they both had some association before this happened.
In fact the association between Elaine Wainwright and the Catholic Institute of Theology goes back over a decade. I discovered an article from the August/September 1995 Family Life News. The article had the rather generic title “Sr Elaine Wainwright - Report” detailing an agenda to subvert the Church for a new democratic Catholic Church.
The bulk of the article was an eye witness account of a seminar Sr Elaine Wainwright gave called “Tapping into the deep wellsprings of wisdom: in search of Sophia” held on the 24th June 1995. Sr Elaine Wainwright was invited to do the seminar by the Catholic Institute of Theology. The article was from an eye witness account:
Elaine Wainwright also told us to “tap the divine and sacred within ourselves…” and “we must journey into the ancient cultures which have female figures and goddesses.” This is in order to “recapture that women wisdom which we have lost because of destructive patriarchal power.
This would have been a fascinating lesson on ancient mythology, except that Wainwright used this paganism to ‘recapture earlier wisdom’ and re-image Scriptures to fit a female divinity
These are very similar notions to a talk she gave in 1992 in an article called “The real goal of Feminism” at the ‘Sophia Centre’ for women's spirituality in Australia:
In the keynote address, Sr. Elaine Wainwright spoke of the superiority of feminine traits; the destructive elements in the patriarchal system; the need to deconstruct, reinterpret, and reconstruct Scripture; the need to rid the world of andocentric bias and replace it with "the weaver woman goddess Wisdom in one of her many manifestations which included Isis, Lilith, Sophia and even Jesus/Christa.
Now the Christa concept is mentioned in the “Sr Elaine Wainwright - Report”:
The final blasphemy which shocked the faithful Catholics, was the display by Wainwright, of a large photo of ‘Christa’- a nude woman on the cross, replacing the crucifix. This was followed by another Australian painting of a woman on the cross….
Also from the Wainwright report article on the Goddess "Sophia":
I was appalled to hear her quote radical feminist theologian, (who had was recently in Auckland), Elizabeth Fiorenza. “Fiorenza is right” Elaine said, “Sophia is the female nemesis of God.”
Wainwright is linked to ‘Christa’ and Fiorenza by an event held on the 28th August 1995 at the Australian Catholic University, just two months before Elaine Wainwright’s talk at the Catholic Institute of Theology. It was a talk by Elizabeth Fiorenza, better known as Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza. An account of this talk is in the article “The Witchcraft feminist, The Archbishop and the Governor”.
First the person who chaired the lecture by Fiorenza was none other than Elaine Wainwright herself. Second there is a picture in the article of a “female Christ” i.e. a naked woman on the Cross that was displayed at the event. The article also links Fiorenza in a network of neo-pagan Feminist theologians; one name given in the network is Carol Christ, at whose “Research Symposium” Wainwright lectured and chaired a session for. Fiorenza lectures at the Harvard Divinity School, where Wainwright spent a year as a visiting scholar in 1993-4, and where Fiorenza proof read her book “Shall we look for another?”. Fiorenza and Carol Christ have an association - they were the founding co-chairs of the ‘Womens Caucus’ on Religious Studies from 1971-72 in the United States.
The more I looked, the more connections I found. It is more than clear that what is happening is not a passing trend or something that has spread over night. The current situation involving neo-paganism has been the result of decades of work, a campaign of dissent to undermine the Church from within. What is driving the movement is Feminist theology that instead of seeing the Church in its true role of liberator, sees it as the oppressive enemy that needs to be brought to bear. Such a revolution from within would require a network of influential people, so the pending question arises: “is there such a network?”
From the email on the We Are Church board I was able to find out the symposium was a neo-pagan event with none other than the founder of the modern Goddess movement. From there I was able to find connections, e.g. one of the speakers at the Symposium was a Catholic Nun who was the centre of the Womenspace Goddess worshipping scandal.
But there was one last matter of concern about that email. As I had said earlier it was short to the point for people “in the know” and with it being so brief, barely two lines, I couldn’t imagine that the recipients would be scratching their heads wondering who Carol Christ was. The group that it was sent to must have been familiar with the works of Carol Christ or at least known by the sender to be open to certain ideas.
So the last matter of concern was the identity of these people that the email was sent to. Including the sender, there were 20 names on the list, and I was shocked at the positions these people held. An * after the name indicates that the person “attends the 5:30 ‘Shared Liturgical Leadership’ at St Benedict’s Newton”. The sender of the email is the first name on the list:
Names on the Carol Christ email
On the Auckland Diocesan Pastoral Council
- Pat Lythe: Executive Secretary of Auckland Diocesan Council, Coordinator of Evangelisation for Auckland Diocese. Teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology
- Vic Barrington: Chairperson Diocese Pastoral Council (at the time of email, no longer on council).
- Sr Cathryn Wiles-Pickard RSM: Religious Orders representative on Diocesan Council
- Sr Mary Thomas* : Auckland Diocese head of “Beginning Experiences” (Ministry to the Separated, Divorced and Widowed persons). Former teacher at the Catholic Institute of Theology
Secondary School Religious Education Team CDA
- Maureen Hammond: the Coordinator of Religious Education at Pompallier Diocesan Centre with responsibility for parish based sacramental programmes. Also teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology. Now she is C.I.T.’s Coordinator of Continuing Faith Education.
- Delia Ruane: Parish Programme Adviser for the Diocesan Religious Education Team. Coordinator of “Beginning Experience” and “Seasons for Growth” programs. Also teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology.
- Barbara Simpson: director of the Christian Family Life Education program, St Joseph’s parish Takapuna pastoral co-ordinator. Also teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology.
- Sr Colleen Dempsey: responsible for the special Diocesan zone of Coromandal for Religious Education and taught at the Catholic Institute of Theology at time of email.
- Sr Christina Neunzerling RSJ: responsible for the special Diocesan zone of Northland for Religious Education. Also teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology.
Lecturers at the Catholic Institute of Theology:
- Mary Betz*: Lectured at the Catholic Institute of Theology at the time of email. Was C.I.T.’s Coordinator of Continuing Faith Education at the time, now works for Caritas.
- Lyn Birch: Lectures at the Catholic Institute of Theology. Co-ordinator of Catechetical Studies programme at the Auckland University School of Education (training Religious Education teachers).
- Jo Ayers*: Lectures at the Catholic Institute of Theology, also lay Chaplain at Carmel Girls College. Was listed as a gay friend ‘commitment ceremony’ celebrant. Listed as civic marriage and funeral celebrant.
- Clair Ryan*: Teaches at the Catholic Institute of Theology. Also works for the Auckland Diocesan Liturgy Centre.
- Eileen Barrington: St Mary’s parish Northcote Liturgical Music Director at time of the email
- Kathleen Brockliss: St Mary’s Northcote Religious Education Director
- Jacqui Ryan*: member of the 5:30pm St Benedict’s Shared Liturgical Leadership
- Judith Crimmins*: member of the St Benedict’s Shared Liturgical Leadership. We Are Church member. Involved with Pax Christi.
- Sr Moira (Sister of Mercy)
- Pat de Z: unknown
- Margaret France: unknown
It is important to note that the email is an invitation not evidence of an organised network in itself. In my opinion many on the list, those I have knowledge of, fit the characteristics of “Goddess Cult” members being feminists and are of a highly dissenting nature, rejecting many areas of Church doctrine especially in the area of women’s ordination.
Cause for concern
If the people on the list comprise a network and part of the ‘Goddess Cult’ there are many causes for concern:
- That the sender was Pat Lythe, Coordinator for Evangelisation for the Auckland Diocese and Auckland Diocesan Council Secretary.
- That almost 20% of the full time staff of Auckland Diocese is on the list
- That 5 out of the 8 members of the Religious Education team (secondary) for Auckland Diocese were on the list
- That a quarter of the people, 5 out of 20, on the list are Nuns from Orders which have been at the centre of feminist and dissenting activities prone to the ‘Goddess Cult’
- That 6 out of 20 go to the 5:30pm Shared Liturgical Leadership
- Most notable is the fact that 10 out of the 20 on the list teach at the Catholic Institute of Theology (that’s 1/3 of C.I.T.’s teaching staff). Out of the others on the list one used to teach at C.I.T. and another one has a degree from there.
Elaine Wainwright warrants another mention. She was not on the list but she was involved with the event giving a lecture and chairing a seminar. She is a member of the 5:30pm Shared Liturgical Leadership attended by a large segment of the Catholic Institute of Theology’s staff which has had an association with her of over a decade, both before and after the Womenspace scandal. Also as C.I.T. comes under the Auckland University School of Theology, of which Wainwright is the head.
What I am emphasising in this report are the networks through which Neo-pagan ideas are being promoted. The Bible gives good advice when it says to keep good company, and you can tell a lot about a person by what friends they keep but more precisely what groups they belong too. So do these people belong to any groups that might hold in some way Neo-pagan beliefs?
Women Scholars of Religion and Theology
The more I looked for links in regards to the dissent network the more I found them. In my research I found an ecumenical feminist group called the Women Scholars of Religion and Theology (WSRT). WSRT has its own e-journal called “Sea Changes” which as its symbol has three Spirals; the Spiral of course is the symbol of the Goddess.
I discovered some of those involved with the Carol Christ Symposium were members. Elaine Wainwright was a founding member, Pat Lythe was voted on the WSRT Executive in 1998 (pre-Womenspace) and Judith Crimmins who put the Carol Christ email on the We Are Church forum. Several members of C.I.T., one now left, are also WSRT members including Sr Susan Smith who is responsible for donating the several Carol Christ books in the C.I.T. library.
Major Australian Catholic dissenters are also present such as Kim E Power who gets a mention in The Wanderer Catholic magazines “Goddess Cult” series of articles:
Power is a major Australian feminist theologian and a leader in Australia’s women priests movement. In her “Tradition and Tyranny: Women and the Catholic Church, Yesterday and Today” talk she explained in comprehensive detail how women can subvert a male-led patriarchal Church in their struggle to become priests by telling male leaders all their anxieties about women priests are based on oedipal complexes, castration anxieties bred into them over centuries, fear of becoming irrelevant, and so forth
In Powers own words men oppress women:
Because of this relative incapacity, many men suffer, largely subconsciously, from insecurities that might be termed ‘womb envy,’ ‘breast envy,’ or what I call ‘Non-Menstrual Syndrome.’ This is why insecure men exclude women from places they want to reserve for themselves. To compensate for the things that they cannot do, they tell women that they may not do other things
WSRT is not only an Ecumenical group, for in addition to Protestant members, there are also a group of Goddess Worshippers, such as Ms Thea Gaia but more importantly Dr Patricia Rose, who has a doctorate in Goddess Worship. Dr Rose is of note as she was part of the Goddess worshipping scandal at Womenspace, which was not only owned and staffed by the Sisters of Mercy as well as several other orders but Dr Rose was hired by them to be Co-chair of Womenspace.
Also a member of WSRT was listed as the Womens Resource Centre whose coordinator at the time was Rosemary Neave, an ex-Anglican “Post-Church” lesbian. The role of the Womens Resource Centre in ‘the network’ will be discussed later.
In a document written for the 10 year anniversary of WSRT by Elaine Wainwright called “SeaChanges Land and Living and Loving: Women Scholars of Religion and Theology over 10 Years” (2004), it is mentioned that they are seeking links to other feminist theological networks:
Women Scholars of Religion and Theology, becomes more regional as well as participating in the fullest development of women’s theology and religious studies in the region. Also, maintaining the links which many members have with the Feminist Liberation Network established by Mary Hunt and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza …
The Feminist Liberation Network referred to is actually called the “Feminists Theologians Liberation Network” which is a project of the Women’s Alliance of Theology, Ethics and Ritual (W.A.T.E.R.) which was co-founded and is co-directed by Mary E. Hunt. W.A.T.E.R. is an organisation which is meant to be ecumenical but is really largely majority dissident Catholic, and has been linked many times to the Neo-pagan movement especially in Donna Steichen’s “Ungodly Rage: the Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism” on the Goddess movement “within” the Church.
Mary E. Hunt is not a person Catholic theologians would want to be drawing ideas from, as is shown in her address to the Womens Ordination Worldwide conference 2005 in Canada called “Different Voices/Different Choices: Feminist Perspective on Ministry”. Extracts are as follows:
Given this complexity, there is something comforting about relying on the tried and now known to be untrue system of bishops…
Indeed there are already many Catholic women ordained as Episcopalian and Lutheran priests who are no less Catholic for it (note: to be ordained a minister in another church is an automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church)
Here’s one on the last Papal election:
I am not sure I would have been happy if Jesus had been elected for the simple reason that the process was so utterly flawed: bereft of any input from women, lay people, or children; undemocratic and elitist. The papacy is meant to be a symbol of unity, not a person with authority.
I realized that about the only thing that could have rescued the sorry Vatican scene from what I predict will be history’s harsh judgment would have been if the doors had opened and an African woman, HIV positive, with her baby in her arms had come out onto the balcony proclaiming the love of Wisdom-Sophia for all of creation, the imperative of Wisdom-Sophia that justice be done.
Note also that Mary E. Hunt is active in the “Women Church” movement.
From “The Women Church Movement” by Miriam Therese Winter (member of Call To Action):
In November 1983, approximately 1,400 women, most of them Roman Catholic, met in Chicago for a conference called "Woman Church Speaks." That gathering of women who together envisioned and to some extent modelled a church liberated from patriarchal bondage marked a turning point in the women’s movement in the United States. For the first time, women whose common heritage was one of disappointment and dissent collectively claimed to be church. They shared with one another their experience of spirituality, sexuality and survival in the church and in society, and went forth as an exodus community coming out of exile within and in some instances beyond the institutional church. In October 1987, over 3,000 women joined, the “Women Church Convergence" in Cincinnati, under the theme, "Claiming Our Power."
The Women Church movement although ecumenical in theory is mainly made up of Catholic feminist dissenters. Women Church Convergence (WCC), mentioned above, is described on their website as “a coalition of autonomous Catholic-rooted organisations and groups raising a feminist voice and committed to an Ekklesia of women which is participative, egalitarian and self governing”. Also on the home page “WCC works to eradicate patriarchy”.
In Donna Steichen’s book “Ungodly Rage”, she mentions Rosemary Radford Reuther’s work “Women Church” which states Women Church is based on two 14th century Gnostic groups, the Beguines and the Fraticelli, which are termed “spirit filled predecessors” of current religious feminists. Ruether also states “Like those groups Women-Church is a movement of ‘radical Christianity’ that ‘tends to see the traditional religion as false or fallen’ and that ‘anticipates the New Age”.
Women Church NZ?
While looking around the library of the Catholic Institute of Theology, finding the most famous books on Catholic dissent, I came across the section where they have the magazines they subscribe to in box files. One of the box files had on it “Women Church”.
The magazine ‘Women Church’ describes itself as “an Australian Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion”. Looking through their issues of ‘Women Church’, I found many of the people in my research had written for it especially members of Women Scholars of Religion and Theology and C.I.T. staff: Elaine Wainwright, Kim E. Power, Sr Susan Smith (C.I.T.), Sr Ann Gilroy (C.I.T.) etc. Although Women Church is predominately Catholic, Goddess theologians such as Dr Patricia Rose (Womenspace) and Ms Thea Gaia, amongst others, provide articles on Goddess worship and witchcraft.
So it is clear that Feminist theologians in New Zealand have links to this movement.
One can only now get a subscription to Women Church magazine in New Zealand by getting it sent from Australia but this was not always so. You could get a subscription in New Zealand from the Womens Resource Centre, but it has since shut down. The former head of the Womens Resource Centre, Rosemary Neave, went on to found “Future Church New Zealand”. We shall see more about Catholic dissent, Future Church NZ and the Womens Resource Centre later.
Call To Action (C.T.A.) is the largest dissenter group to plague the Church in the United States - so I find my self asking in the course of my research: how is it that they have such great influence here?
Call To Action is the archetypal ‘Catholic’ dissent group that is pro-abortion, pro-women’s ordination, recognising homosexuality as a valid choice, anti-tradition etc as well as linked to the neo-pagan movement. In fact they come across as so anti-Catholic, that some observers, both within and outside the Church, have asked the question - why do they stay in the Church?
The answer is given by Rosemary Radford Ruether in 1986 at a Call to Action Conference as stated by Donna Steichen in her book “Ungodly Rage”:
She advised Chicago Call To Action members to maintain Church membership as camouflage while revolutionizing from within
To another Call To Action conference Ruether stated:
Religious Revolutionaries should stay in the Church and use what ever parts they can get their hands on
In 1994 Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln Diocese, Nebraska USA, excommunicated every member of Call To Action, as well as a number of other groups, within his Diocese as they were deemed "perilous to the Catholic Faith." 12 years later on the 11th of December 2006 Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops stated Bishop Bruskewitz’s order of excommunication "was properly taken within your competence as pastor of that diocese." He added "Thus to be a member of this association or to support it is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith." This poses serious questions about the status of the group in other dioceses.
Call To Action New Zealand?
In my research I found a number of links between Call To Action and New Zealand. Certainly there is much sympathy with their ideas in several quarters, ideas which even the Vatican now has affirmed as “irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith”.
Call To Action is the largest dissent movement in the Church in North America and its associates are the biggest names in dissent against the Church such as: Sr Joan Chittister, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Charles Curran, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Richard Mc Brien, and Elizabeth Johnson to name a few.
Sadly showing how bad things have gotten in New Zealand, some of the Call To Action group members have been invited to New Zealand to give talks, such as Matthew Fox (1990), Monika Hellwig (1992), Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza (1995), Sandra Schneiders (1999), Sr Miriam MacGillis (1999), Diarmuid O'Murchu (2001), Barbara Reid (2006), and Richard Rohr (2006). Sr Joan Chittister is scheduled to come this year (July 2007).
All of these people deny core doctrines of the Church and openly dissent - yet they are trumpeted as grand theologians that all Catholics should listen to by certain areas of the establishment who openly dissent.
Most appear in Donna Steichen’s book “Ungodly Rage” on the neo-pagan movement ‘in’ the Church where she details much of their activities. See also the website for AD 2000 magazine. In the ‘New Zealand’ section you can find details of their visits and their “heresies”. I will however look at Sr Miriam MacGillis later on.
We should also remember that all are supporters and members of Call To Action - a group the Vatican has stated "Thus to be a member of this association or to support it is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith”. If you are not living the Faith, how can one teach it? The answer: you cannot.
Corrupting the young
I now would like to draw your attention to the Faith Central website, which is the resource website for Religious Education for Catholic Schools. My first “Dirk Van Holland report”, and second, was on the shocking material that appeared on Faith Central. The release of both reports led to something of a clean up, but despite both reports Faith Central is still being used as a vehicle to try to convert Catholic youth to the dissenters’ “faith”.
Most shockingly is that two links from the Faith Central website link directly to the Call To Action website to highly dissenting articles.
Under the year 13 topic D “The changing role of women” you will find a link to “Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men by Joan Chittister, O.S.B.”. Sr Joan Chittister is a long time supporter of Call To Action, pro-abortion, and is mentioned many times in “Ungodly Rage”.
The second article is “Women in the Bible and the Lectionary by Ruth Fox, OSB”, Sr Ruth Fox, akin to Sr Joan, also appears in ‘Ungodly Rage’. Both articles are highly dissenting and are being put forward to Catholic youth as good Catholic teaching. So who was it that thought that it was a good idea to expose Catholic youth to material from the Call To Action website, from some of the biggest names in dissent? As Call To Action was deemed "perilous to the Catholic Faith", with membership resulting in the excommunications, it is clear that some people in Catholic education, like those responsible for Faith Central, are themselves perilous to the Catholic Faith of our youth.
The Old Faith Central and CTA
The old Faith Central had a large amount of the most dissenting and inappropriate material that should never have even been considered for the website, let alone put on it. It seems likely that several dissenting websites may have been sourced directly from the Call To Action website, that they used the “links” section on the CTA website for material for Faith Central as Religious Education resources. What is clear is that a number of sites linked from Faith Central are also linked from the Call To Action website.
For example there was a link on the topic of contraception to a site that fully attacked the Church’s teaching on the matter. On that website itself one of its only two links was:
Call to Action: this is perhaps the best organized movement for needed reforms in the Catholic Church.
That same site is linked from the Call To Action website. Other examples were: The Women Priests pro-women’s ordination site, the Partenia website of Bishop Jacques Gaillot who was deposed from his Diocese for his many crimes under cannon law. These are linked from the C.T.A. website with some of them linking onto the C.T.A. site.
We note also that Faith Central both then and now, was using two articles directly from the C.T.A. website. It is clear that those responsible for Faith Central do use the C.T.A. website as a resource. Also those responsible for Faith Central did not object to the material linked from the C.T.A. website for they used it directly.
It is possible of course that they might have independently gathered those same websites separately, and not be using the links of C.T.A., but that makes little difference – it simply would mean that they have gone to an ever greater effort to bring this dissident material to Catholic youth.
Over all, there is material on Faith Central from the Call to Action website, which if explored by the young people would be perilous to their faith, and many of the same links as found on the C.T.A website were used until recently by Faith Central, revealing the same mindset in those that run the site.
The Call To Action website itself
Of course the best place to look for links between Call To Action and the Church in New Zealand is the Call To Action website it self. There are several New Zealand websites.
The first is a website created by a Catholic Brother although the site has not been updated for years as the Brother has since passed away.
Second is the CONNECT website run by The New Zealand Catholic Youth Council. It is perplexing how the New Zealand Catholic Youth Council site got onto the Call To Action website links, but I very much doubt Call To Action just found it and linked to it. So the question is who asked Call To Action to link CONNECT from their site? Is this not denoting support for C.T.A.?
The third and of the greatest interest is the Womens Resource Centre, which was also a member of Women Scholars of Religion and Theology and did handle the subscriptions of the ‘Women Church’ magazine before it shut down. So let’s now take a closer look at how this piece fits into the puzzle.
I previously mentioned Rosemary Neave, an ex-Anglican who now describes herself as “Post Church”. For 16 years (1987-2001) she was coordinator of the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC), an ecumenical faith network for feminists. It is linked to Women Scholars of Religion and Theology and ‘Women Church’, due to its ecumenical character, but why Call To Action? This denotes Catholic involvement in the WRC network.
It must be said that Ms Neave does have good independent knowledge of Catholic dissent worldwide. In 1996 she wrote a report for the WRC called “Re-imagining the Church” where she looks at influences shaping “liberal Christianity” around the world. In this report a number of well known Catholic radical feminists are quoted such as Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza. Also in the report is the Appendix stating that material from the WRC library used for the report was gathered from other networks including the Women’s Alliance of Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) co-founded by Mary E. Hunt. W.A.T.E.R.’s “Feminist Theologians Liberation Network” is the same one the Womens Scholars of Religion and Theology, of which the WRC was a member, had links with. One of the movements Neave looked at in the report was Call To Action (C.T.A.).
Of course there was Catholic involvement in the WRC. By the time I started my research the WRC had been closed for 2-3 years so I could find very little information. I did find an advert from the Scoop News service Monday, 17 March 2003:
~ SUN, 6 April - 40 minutes for Peace, a time to light candles and pray for peace in the world - part of Contextual Liturgies, creative and contemporary feminist liturgies for women and men in response to specific events in our context of Aotearoa / New Zealand; 7pm in the Crypt, St Benedict's Catholic Church, Newton Rd. For more info contact the Women's Resource Centre tel (09) 571 9158 or email [email protected]
This shows WRC had Catholic connections, and not surprisingly to St Benedict’s Newton home of the 5:30 “Shared Liturgical Leadership”. It is also of note that no form of Catholic contact is present, only through the WRC. I also found a WRC National News Letter from the 17th of July 2003 advertising a WRC “Mid-Winter lecture” on the then current Foreshore and Seabed issue. Part of the Program reads:
7pm Introductory small-group discussion in the lounge, facilitated by Pat Lythe (Catholic Diocese) Tea and Coffee available
It is only logical that Pat Lythe and the WRC have association as they are in the same city and both belong to WSRT. Also of note is the WRC, which, although based in Auckland, was a national network. In the same newsletter as above there is an advert for a Feminist Theology course at the Wellington Catholic Education Centre.
There is more on the Womens Resource Centre but I would like to move onto “Future Church New Zealand”.
Future Church NZ
In 2001 Rosemary Neave left her position as Co-ordinator of the WRC and started up ‘Future Church New Zealand’, not to be confused with Future Church the American “Catholic” dissent group. ‘Future Church’ was a project of the WRC. Future Church is an “ecumenical and non-denominational network including people who have left the Church and wanting to explore other ideas about God”. On the links for overseas groups is one to the Call To Action website. Future Church also has direct Catholic involvement.
There are two New Zealand Catholic groups on the Future Church website although only one of them is actually listed as Catholic. The one that is not is the Korimako Centre in Invercargill, which will be looked at later on in the report. The one that is listed as Catholic is the “Manna Community” in Auckland headed by Fr Terry Dibble who lectures at the Catholic Institute of Theology. The group is also listed under a few other categories including Liberation Theology, New Zealand Context, Peace and Justice and Future of the Church. The last category is important as Fr Dibble celebrates for the St Benedict’s 5:30pm Shared Liturgical Leadership and has stated there that the 5:30pm is how he envisions the Church’s future. We shall look more at the Neaves links to the 5:30pm and to the C.I.T shortly.
We should also mention, regarding Future Church NZ, that there was from some time in 2004 until March 2005, a whole page on the Future Church NZ website dedicated to advertising the New Zealand visit of Carol Christ, listing all her engagements and her book reviews. One would assume that Ms Neave put it up, as she was Future Church NZ’s co-ordinator. Also on Women Travel NZ, a company owned by Neave, they advertise the “Adriane Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual” founded and run by Carol Christ.
Neave and Catholic Institute of Theology
In 2002 a book called “He Kupu Whakawairua: Spirituality in Aotearoa New Zealand” was published. The book, which was highly dissenting, was a collaboration between C.I.T. staff and associates, and the publishing label that the book came from is owned by a C.I.T. staff member. (Just FYI the editor of Tui Motu gave it a rave review).
All of the writers for this book on “Catholic Voices” were of course ‘Catholic’, but at the end of the book 4 non-Catholics were asked to write articles to comment on the book, one of them being Rosemary Neave. One of her comments is noteworthy:
I have experienced in Catholics I have met, some of the most thoughtful, provocative and radical spiritualities and life styles. But I have not met much of it in these pages, though it is there in veiled references
I will be looking at what I believe to be one such veiled reference later on in the report.
An individual provided me with 3 emails between them self and Ms Neave. For reasons I will not divulge, the person in question emailed Rosemary Neave seeking people in the Catholic Church with a ‘liberal outlook’ i.e. women’s ordination, pro-homosexuality etc, typical dissenting views. Ms Neave replied on Friday the 18th November 2005, referring them onto St Matthew’s in the City, an Auckland Anglican “church”.
There is a ‘Catholic’ connection here. The Anglican Minister of St Matthew’s in the City is Glynn Cardy. On Wednesday 20 of December 2006 he wrote an article that appeared in the New Zealand Herald titled “Glynn Cardy: Mary was the victim of abuse”. He claimed Jesus was not a conceived by the union of Mary and the Holy Spirit but that Mary was seduced or raped, hence Jesus was just an illegitimate man – a classic Modernist position. The ‘Catholic’ connection is that Glynn Cardy is a veteran writer for “Catholic” magazine Tui Motu.
Not surprisingly when the person emailed Ms Neave asking for something Catholic, not Anglican, she replied on Monday the 21st November 2005:
Hi (name deleted), do you get tui motu magazine - that is a good link into open catholic thinking. Whereabouts do you live, I might be able to think of a catholic person to make contact with”
The person replied they lived in Auckland and on Monday the 28th November 2005:
“Hi (name deleted)
Other auckland folk you probably already know of
- St Benedicts community 5pm service
- mission sisters
- Newman hall and catholic institute…
Of course I was not surprised by this last email at all being the usual suspects including C.I.T. and the 5:30 ‘Shared Liturgical Leadership’.
Begging the question
Rosemary Neave is entitled to her beliefs, especially as she is not a Catholic and has never claimed to be. But why is it that those who profess to be Catholic hold closer, almost identical, views to “Post-Church” Ms Neave than to actual Catholic teaching?
I will point out that the only Catholic I could find directly linked to the Womens Resource Centre, under Neave, was the one who sent out the email advertising Carol Christ. And of course Neave, the former coordinator of the WRC, also promoted Carol Christ on Future Church. As they seem to share the same ideas is it any wonder both are members of WSRT? Or that one teaches at C.I.T. and the other has association with it?
The last question is: what other networks are around such as this?
Although a lot of the networks I have focused on so far are in Auckland, it would be a mistake to think that it is a problem only of the Auckland Diocese. For example, it was quite a stroke of luck that the email about the Carol Christ Research Symposium was put on the We Are Church web forums, showing the people from Auckland Diocese. But Carol Christ also had another Symposium and gave lectures in the Palmerston North and Wellington Dioceses as well, just because there is no record does not mean ‘Catholic’ feminists did not go to these events or they do not belong to similar networks.
An example of this is a Catholic dissident group in Christchurch called Catholic Women Knowing Our Place (CWKOP), founded in 1994, whose main goal is women’s ordination but also subscribes to general dissenting ideas. CWKOP gained national attention when they organised a march starting at Christchurch Cathedral and proceeded to another location to pray. They claimed this symbolised the exclusion of women in the Church. They gained national attention by inviting TV news crews to broadcast the event, showing dissenters have no problems causing scandal.
While I was searching through the We Are Church web forum, I found not only links to St Benedict’s 5:30pm, but also to Catholic Women Knowing Our Place. There are a number of posts from various members, but I would like to draw attention to one dated 14th October 2006:
Dear Valerie Stroud
When our group, Catholics Knowing Our Place, began in 1994 my friend, Maree Williamson, was an integral part of its beginnings and is now serving a second term on the core group and is responsible for our newsletter. Would you be so kind as to include Maree in your email distribution list so she can read all the marvellous material from IMWAC and others first hand. Maree's email address is below. Many thanks, and thanks for all your hard work.
Kind regards and blessings, Sheryn Gillard Glass
Firstly I will point out Sheryn Gillard Glass is a founding member and is also one of the groups leaders, along with Dr Anna Holmes. Secondly calling what is on the We Are Church forum “marvellous material” – causes one to wonder what is so marvellous about it? Is it the pro-abortion material from CFFC? Is it directing people to schismatic churches? Is it the articles attacking the Pope and fundamental doctrines of the Faith (such as denying Christ’s presence in the Eucharist)?
In 1998 CWKOP also signed the We Are Church’s highly dissenting and erroneous “Pope for a Time to Come”, showing that they ascribe to the beliefs of IMWAC. Dr Anna Holmes is listed as the contact for the group for CWKOP on the IMWAC website. But IMWAC is not the only group that CWKOP have contact with.
Womens Ordination Worldwide
Womens Ordination Worldwide (WOW) is another group that CWKOP has links with. Remember, WOW is the group Mary E. Hunt gave her address to which I quoted earlier:
I realized that about the only thing that could have rescued the sorry Vatican scene from what I predict will be history’s harsh judgment would have been if the doors had opened and an African woman, HIV positive, with her baby in her arms had come out onto the balcony proclaiming the love of Wisdom-Sophia for all of creation, the imperative of Wisdom-Sophia that justice be done.
This type of material is the norm rather than the exception for WOW, as well as other feminist dissent groups ‘in the Church’.
One the Women's Ordination Worldwide website CWKOP is listed as a supporting group. Still on the WOW website is the message of support from CWKOP, written by Sheryn Gillard Glass, for the first WOW international conference in 2001:
CATHOLIC WOMEN: KNOWING OUR PLACE in New Zealand sent warmest greetings to the delegates at the WOW International Conference. You are all prophets and we would have loved to have sent a New Zealand representative to be with you but this has not been possible. Despite the geographical distance we are spiritually close to you in prayer.
WOW is not a group of people I would call prophets.
The Women Priests Website
CWKOP is also listed on the Women Priests website, a landmark of the women’s ordination movement. Of note is somebody thought it was a good idea to put it on the Faith Central secondary RE website for Catholic youth.
“Brothers And Sisters In Christ” (B.A.S.I.C.) is a Catholic dissent group in Ireland with its main goal listed as women’s ordination and like most other major dissent groups, it is linked to the neo-pagan movement. One article that appears on the B.A.S.I.C. website is called “Handmaidens of the Goddess: Towards a female priesthood”. Although it starts off being dedicated to St Ignatius of Loyola and St Theresa of Lisieux the neo-pagan agenda is clear:
I think it's very important to say at the outset that Mary was first and last a peasant girl and that she's one of us. I was delighted to see a statue of her in Clifton cathedral where she is portrayed with breasts! But what I am seeing more and more clearly is the re-emergence of “Goddess" or the feminine aspect of God. Since I started writing about Her, I came across "Crossing to Avalon" by Jean Shinoda Bolen. I was enthralled to find that she talks in similar language about the emergence of the goddess as we begin to honour more the sacredness of our planet and the body and its wisdom. She talks of the "need to become aware of those deep and sacred moments in which a woman and goddess are one and when Earth and Mother and Goddess and Woman partake of divinity.
Of course I mention this as Catholic Women Knowing Our Place has links to it. The B.A.S.I.C. 2002 annual report has a list of overseas organisations which B.A.S.I.C. maintains links with, and Catholic Women Knowing Our Place at the top of the list. The website also has a section recording those people from organisations that they maintain links to, that come to visit BA.S.I.C. in Ireland, such as CWKOP leader Dr Anna Holmes, with the following caption on the subject:
From New Zealand came Dr. Anna Holmes, with her husband John and grand-daughter 9 year old Victoria. Dr. Anna Holmes is prominent in Catholic Women: Knowing Our Place, a group of Christchurch-based Catholics fighting to change human rights law it says permits discrimination against women in religion. Anna was the doctor in charge of the Pope's visit to New Zealand a few years ago. After the Pope had blessed her and her family, she replied spontaneously "And may God bless you too!" Anna said John Paul II was taken by surprise.
Catholic Women Knowing Our Place is associated with We Are Church, Womens Ordination Worldwide, the Women Priests website and BA.S.I.C. : All major dissent groups with some type of link with the neo-pagan movement. So is CWKOP crossing the line to neo-paganism itself?
It seems possible that some members of CWKOP might hold similar beliefs to the Goddess movement. I refer to an address given at the 2005 Colloquium event, hosted by Palmerston North Catholic Diocese, by Dr Anna Holmes member/leader of Catholic Women Knowing Our Place called “Bioethics and a Truly Human Society”:
I am not sure if the many in the church really understand the difference between a static universe and the current understanding of a dynamic and evolving one. Certainly those who first proposed a dynamic universe were silenced – Teillhard de Chardin among them. Even in the last few years there have been silencing of theologians who were attempting to develop theology in keeping with an evolving world. Making definitive statements to moral strangers does not help. Such statements are not even heard by faithful church members when they do not match life experience. The church does need to address these credibility gaps.
First of all, the works of Teillhard de Chardin have been condemned (twice) by Rome as pantheistic and as erroneous theology. That de Chardin was silenced is no big tragedy and that his works are embraced by New Agers and the Goddess Cult a clear sign about how un-Catholic they are. As for the evolving universe and developing theologies to keep up with it, this strays close to the Goddess movement’s pantheistic ‘Process Philosophy’ where they do not see God as perfect, but rather as constantly evolving. Catholic Theology is based on Divine Revelation and progresses with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not to keep up with the world, as the world is not God. What’s more, “life experience” is not a measure of what is true, as truth is absolute, not relativistic, as the Goddess Cult beliefs would have it.
For the record I am not accusing Dr Holmes of being a member of the Goddess Cult, but there seems to be some overlap of belief. Of course Catholic Women Knowing Our Place have a number of clear overlaps of belief with some of the worse dissenter groups in the Church, and have even signed to that fact. So how is it possible for a member of such a group to be allowed to speak at a Church event such as Colloquium and praise a condemned heretic such as Teillhard de Chardin? The Church in New Zealand needs to be more discerning with who they invite to teach, and who the people are that they deal with. A good example of this is Sr Miriam MacGillis.
I would now like to bring your attention to Sr Miriam MacGillis OP of the Call To Action fame and adherent to the “New Cosmology” which those of the Goddess Cult ascribe to. This section is also an example of the impact the big names in ‘Catholic’ dissent have, and what harm they can do. A lot of this section is based on the AD 2000 article “US Dominican Nun brings the “New Cosmology to New Zealand”.
In 1999 Sr MacGillis came to New Zealand on the invitation of the Major Superiors of five major Religious Orders to give a lecture tour on the "New Cosmology and Eco-Spirituality." This of course was well after Sr MacGillis got involved in Call To Action and general public dissent, which should have disqualified her from such an invitation.
Sr MacGillis has been mentored since 1984 by Fr Thomas Berry who along with Brian Swimme and Matthew Fox ‘discovered’ the “New Cosmology”, literally the new order of the universe. Of course the Church has condemned the “New Cosmology” as it rejects revealed truths about God– basically, it is Pantheistic. Of course dissenters do not care about this and think that they know better than God’s Church. Thomas Berry acknowledges the major influence of Teillhard de Chardin in his work. Fr Berry argues that traditional Catholic "redemptive theology" contributes to a "homocentric view of the earth," obscuring St Paul's idea that in Christ all things hold together, according to Berry "It is a way of thinking of the universe as a cosmic person." So if Christ is God and the Universe is a Cosmic Person, i.e. Christ, equals the Universe is God: which results in Pantheism.
In 1980 Sr MacGillis established ‘Genesis Farm’, in New Jersey, to be a centre for the New Cosmology, teaching it through courses there, as well as engaging in some practices that the Church does not approve of. It is of note that Womenspace, the place of the Goddess Worshipping scandal in Brisbane, stated it took on its pagan occult practices after a group from Womenspace went to study at Sr MacGillis’s Genesis Farm.
New Zealand Visit
The title of Sr MacGillis’s lecture in New Zealand was “Who shall inherit the Earth?”. She outlined her experiences gained by working with Thomas Berry and Brain Swimme in the area of the “New Cosmology”. According to the article of AD 2000 magazine:
She often referred to the Catholic Church as representing the "Old Story." Catholic schools needed to be reshaped, so that children could be educated in the "the new way of thinking - the new story of creation.
This is in line with the statement from one of her mentors, Brian Swimme (from his website), on the implications of the “New Cosmology”:
(It) shatters nearly everything upon which the modern age was built …The major institutions of the modern period, including that of agriculture and religion and education and economics, need to be re-imagined…
But the coming of Sr MacGillis did not go without challenge. One month before she was due Fr George Duggan SM theologian and former seminary professor wrote to the Bishops of New Zealand telling them Sr MacGillis’s views constituted pantheism and that they were under obligation to warn the faithful.
After the whole affair the Evening Post newspaper interviewed the Congregational Leader of Religious Orders president (at the time), Sister Judith McGinley OP, in which she gave the statement she did not think Sr MacGillis was teaching “controversial doctrine”. This is a rather strange statement, as there is no way her pantheism was anything like Catholic doctrine, and so is necessarily ‘controversial’. It is clear we have a crisis of faith in New Zealand if the highest ranked Religious can’t tell what’s what.
The lasting influence of Sr MacGillis’s ideas can be seen in the August 2005 issue of Tui Motu magazine in an article under the subject ‘women’s spirituality’ called “Spirituality at Women’s Convention” by Trish McBride. For an event in Wellington called “The Womens Convention”, a secular feminist event, Sr Brettkelly RSJ, Sr Marcellin Wilson RSM and lay woman Patricia Booth offered a ritual called the “Cosmic Walk”. The article states:
This was based on Sr Miriam MacGillis’ Cosmic Walk, adapted (with permission) for the women of Aotearoa New Zealand.
The exercise involves walking along the path and meditating, in fact it resembles a children’s version of a Labyrinth walk (a popular New Age practice). The path was a 60 meter tie-dyed Spiral; spirals of course are the symbol of the Goddess. In the article it was referred to as the “Koru /spiral” - as use of the spiral in the Church in New Zealand is passed off as a Koru, which of course is a spiral pattern. The first station in the middle of the spiral “marked the beginning of all things ‘in the depths of not-yet time’, about 15 billion years ago”. Other times of geological and cosmic events as well as historical events considered relevant made up the other stations, geological and cosmic events feature highly in the “New Cosmology”.
Although the article hints at a number of neo-pagan influences, the end of the article shows a blatant neo-pagan element:
To conclude, Margaret Megwyn led the group in a dance and chant “Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my spirit” which affirmed, embodied and gave voice to women’s connection with the earth and with the cosmos
This chant appears on a number of pagan websites and I confirmed it was ‘pagan' through email with the pagan “Panthean Temple” who replied “yes, it is pagan”.
After the article was an advert: “This Cosmic Walk workshop is available for use by groups around New Zealand. Contact Sister Marcellin Wilson…”
The “Cosmic Walk” is just one of many examples of why major overseas dissenters, especially involved in neo-pagan activity, should not be allowed to come to New Zealand. But then again some go overseas to study under individuals like Sr MacGillis.
The Sophia Centre
I investigated a link off the Genesis Farm website the Sophia Centre, part of Holy Name University in America, where Sr Miriam MacGillis also works. The centre is for people seeking the “challenges presented by this new defining moment in human/earth relations” and to “explore the profoundly changing human experience that Teilhard de Chardin foresaw”. Remember the works of Teilhard de Chardin have been condemned by Rome.
The centre although not Catholic has some of the biggest names in Catholic dissent on its Faculty (with a caption “Out standing Scholars and Teachers of New Cosmology”):
Miriam MacGillis, Richard Rohr, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Thomas Berry, Brian Swain, John Shea and Diarmuid O’Murchu. This is typical of para-organisations of dissenters as since it does not come under a Catholic banner, Church authorities are powerless to intervene on matters of Doctrine being taught, despite the organisation clearly being targeted mainly at Catholics and mainly being staffed by Catholics. An example of this is that the Sophia Centre offers a 35% discount off their courses for members of Religious Orders.
Under the “Students and Alumni” section on their website, there is a wide cross section of testimonies from students and former students including one from New Zealand, Sr Mary Maitland. Her testimony states part of her reason for studying at the Sophia Centre was “to find the means to be a more confidant voice articulating the New Universe story”. Sr Mary Maitland came back to New Zealand and started studying at the Spiritual Growth Ministry Trust (SGM) an ecumenical organisation specialising in the training of spiritual directors. SGM has popped up many times during my research.
I found on the SGM events calendar for the 22 July 2006 “Pax Christi Reflection Day- Renewing Passion for Peace and Justice making” held at the Mission Sisters centre in Northland. The theme for the event “The Holy Spirit, Sophia and Christian Women Today”, with the talk presented by Sr Mary Maitland and her fellow Mission Sister Susan Smith, lecturer at the C.I.T. and member of WSRT. Once again “Sophia” appears.
Sr Maitland, as part of her SGM studies, had to produce an essay which she titled “A Christian Earth-Centred Spirituality and Spiritual Direction”. In the essay there is the usual feminist issues “Another dimension of this is the exclusive use of distant male images of God that distort not only our imaging of God but also reduce our relationships with God.” Sadly in the essay we can see the affects of the ‘New Cosmology’ schooling:
Can we get our minds around the notion of an evolutionary God, who is working from within the process rather than from outside it and what implications would that have for the rest of theology, especially our understanding of the process of redemption?
God is perfect and has no need to evolve, what the quote above constitutes is the pantheistic, the core of the “New Cosmology” completely in line with the Goddess movement but not with the Catholic Church.
At a loss
I find my self at a loss to explain how members of the Church can ascribe and try to pass off heterodox teaching as the Catholic Faith when it clearly is not - it seems a culture of dishonesty accompanies a culture of dissent. Our crisis of faith is not just claiming the credibility of those who dissent, but as that of the Church in New Zealand who will not even defend its own teachings. That the heads of 5 religious orders could bring in someone like Sr MacGillis, and others, and proclaim heterodoxy publicly is bad enough, but what happens when such people are being brought in “under the radar”?
Genesis Farm is not the only centre for the “New Cosmology” that Fr Thomas Berry inspired. Another such centre in America is the Green Mountains Monastery “guided” by Thomas Berry, who gives them active support; although the real personalities behind it are the resident co-founders, Sr Gail Worcelo and Sr Bernadette Bostwick.
Under the “about” section on their website it has profiles on all three. For Fr Thomas Berry, it mentions that he was president of the American Teillhard de Chardin Association for ten years. For Sr Gail Worcelo, it states that she has been a student of Thomas Berry since 1984 in the area of cosmology, and for Sr Bernadette Bostwick it mentions her work with Icons, mentioned later, and getting Labyrinths installed in retreat centres.
Just an aside, I will not get into the Labyrinth concept but will just state it is a thing Neo-pagan/New Age in nature. It is claimed that Christians of the Middle Ages used them instead of going on pilgrimage but there is no evidence of this. I was glad to hear that the proposed Labyrinth for Auckland Cathedral is now not going to happen, but I would still like to find out who was pushing for it.
Beads and Icons
In 2002 there was an article in the National Catholic Reporter called “Rosaries focused on scared creation” featuring the ‘Earth Prayer Beads’ produced by the Green Mountains Monastery. The prayer starts off with meditation on “The Big Bang” and moves along “each bead representing a billion years in the unfolding story of the universe”, with the last bead that is a square with a fish on it as it is “the ancient symbol for Christ and a reminder in our time of the depletion of the fisheries of the planet”. The article mentions how the beads have sold worldwide including “Ireland, England, India, Africa, New Zealand and the Philippines”.
I corresponded with Green Mountains to ask if they had a New Zealand distributor. They sell their beads mainly from their website shipping worldwide and giving them “to people from New Zealand they have come across” which I believe they mean, people who visit their Monastery. Earth Prayer Beads are not the more traditional Rosary, but have to do with Sr Gail’s vision on the Green Mountains website: “Her particular focus has been the re-founding of religious life in light of new understandings of the universe story”. Of course redefining religious life is what all feminist nuns try to do on their own terms but that is an essay for another time.
While I was on school placement at a Mercy Sisters girls secondary school here in Auckland, 2006, I came across a calendar in the Religious Education office called “The Treasure’s Within: a celebration of the Feminine 2005” which featured an “Icon” of Sr Bernadette Bostwick called “Mary of the Cosmos”. The calendar produced by an American order of Nuns but was blatantly Goddess, and will be looked at later in the report. The work “Mary of the Cosmos”, included a caption by Sr Bostwick “In “Mary and the Cosmos” I see the Divine Feminine, Wisdom Sophia, God Bearer, Black Madonna, Mother of Us All, Mother/Mater/ Matter.” Once again we see the Goddess and Sophia with pantheism in the rest of the text (not quoted).
Now let’s look at some stronger links these Sisters have to New Zealand.
Evangelising the New Cosmology?
In November 2006 the co-founders of the Green Mountains Monastery went on some thing of a ‘foreign mission’. They first went to Australia to a place called “EarthSong” in Victoria founded by a number of religious orders. Regarding EarthSong, see the AD 2000 website for an article titled “EarthSong: Green Christianity or a new paganism?”, which is summed up in the article’s last line - “Catholics will need to be alert since any resemblance between EarthSong and Christianity appears to be purely coincidental”. EarthSong is just one of several such centres, a testament of how strong the Goddess Cult is in Australia.
The second destination, and most importantly to this story, was New Zealand. Through a contact, who will not be named, I was informed that Sr Gail and Sr Bostwick were coming to New Zealand to meet associates and do what my contact called an “unofficial presentation”. I will state now my contact is the most creditable you can get, but is someone that I cannot divulge at this point. The venue of this “unofficial presentation” was the Korimako Centre in Invercargill.
The Korimako Centre
There was not a great deal of information on the Korimako Centre, but what I did turn up was very interesting. The Korimako Centre was established in 2000 as part of the Dominican Sisters outreach program and is classified as a religious community of Dominican Nuns. The contact person listed for the Korimako Centre, a nun, also happens to be the Dunedin Dioceses Primary Catholic Schools Adviser for Southland.
The most information I found on the Korimako Centre was on the Future Church New Zealand website, registered when Rosemary Neave was co-ordinator. The Korimako Centre is listed on Future Church NZ under the categories: Eco-theology, Creation Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. Eco-theology is often code for the “New Cosmology” and the pantheism that accompanies it. Creation Spirituality was created by Matthew Fox one of the few male big names in the neo-pagan movement, also linked to the “New Cosmology”. Finally there is spiritual direction, which is big amongst dissenters as it allows them to point people in a direction that the Church would not. True Catholic Spirituality brings Holiness as it brings you closer to God, not into sinful dissent.
On the Future Church NZ page for the Korimako Centre, they give this quote from Thomas Berry “The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this world is to become destitute in all that makes us human”.
So considering the “Eco-theology”, “Creation Spirituality”, quoting Thomas Berry and being an eco-farm, I am not surprised that the Co-founders of the Green Mountain Monastery and the Dominican Sisters found each other. Although I fear the results of the visit will not bode well for the Catholic Faith in those parts. I wonder how many other people like Sr Gail and Sr Bostwick have come to New Zealand under the radar to evangelise the “New Cosmology”, or some thing else which is at odds with Catholic teaching to no end.
It is not just the bad theology that the dissenters bring with them, but bad practices as well, such as the occult, which I shall now look at.
It is of the gravest concern that dissenters, and most prominently the Sisters of Mercy, are practicing the Occult. The practice of the Occult is a core part of the Goddess/New Age movement, and it is no different for those dissenters in the Church who ascribe to such beliefs. The Archdiocese of Brisbane is an example of what happens if dissent of this type is allowed to spread. The Wanderer articles give examples, such as Nuns at Womenspace offering guidance from pagan Celtic Oracles. Of course with the practice of the Occult the demonic is never far behind.
While sitting waiting for Mass to begin at St Benedict’s Newton on the 5th of February 2006, I was reading through the parish newsletter, I came across advertising for the Sisters of Mercy ‘Mercy Spirituality Centre’ that runs many courses of a questionable nature. One of the things being advertised was a 6 day live-in retreat led by a Sr Maree Haggerty, who was described as a Mercy Sister from Australia. Being aware of the Womenspace scandal and the Mercy Sisters Goddess activities in Australia, I did some research in the background of Sr. Haggerty.
I came across a 2003 brochure on the internet advertising a series of 6 day retreats and spirituality sessions which Sr Haggerty gave called “Life, Energy and the Spiritual Journey”. The series covered mainly Australian venues but also included a Hamilton section. The brochure stated that Sr Haggerty was a Doctor of Ministry in Creation Spirituality, which was founded by ex-Catholic Priest Matthew Fox as part his Neo-pagan/“New Cosmology” beliefs. It then should be of no surprise that what was on offer was Occult ritual and practice.
The brochure started off with advertising “Spiritual Companioning (Spiritual Direction)”. I have reason to believe that this is not spiritual direction as most Catholics would know it. Spiritual Companioning is also a term used by New Agers and involves linking a person with a “spirit guide” to provide guidance. Due to limited information, I cannot be certain, but the price of $35 per hour, similar to that charged for Celtic divination practices at Womenspace, is odd since spiritual direction is not usually something one has to pay for, I never had to pay a priest for it.
Also advertised was ‘Integrated Spiritual Companioning and Reiki massage’ for $50 per session. I will go into greater detail about Reiki massage a little bit later.
The two specific workshops that were held at Bishop Clarke House, next to Scared Heart Cathedral in Hamilton, are named, but no description is given. We can, although, discern the nature of Sr Haggerty’s work by the description of her Australian retreats.
Although there were a number of other retreats offered most had one of two descriptions:
By integrating an introduction to the ancient spiritual understanding of energy (Chakra system) with gentle body wisdom (movement, story, sound, stillness, participants will be invited into a better understanding of self, others, the universe and the Divine.
The Chakra system originates from Hinduism/Buddhism and is separate and incompatible with Catholic teaching about the human person. The system has elements akin to Gnosticism, in regards to beliefs of ‘the inner divine’. It is believed that if all 7 Charkas are in alignment, an eighth Chakra is unlocked and gives the person a co-existing connection/awareness of the Cosmic Consciousness, i.e. “God”, the person would have gained “Enlightenment” and have a transcendent consciousness. This eighth Chakra is characterised by a Serpent, the guise the devil used to tempt Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with forbidden knowledge.
The second main description of Sr Haggerty’s retreats:
Having set up a safe environment an invitation will be offered to participants to gain insights into how to remember dreams, dream images, types of dreams and how to work with personal dreams. Incorporating participation in a dream group, the spiritual direction of one’s own life will have the opportunity to unfold in surprising and valuable ways.
This dream workshop is rather one of two things, neither of which can be called Catholic. The first is the practice of Oneiromancy, the interpretation of Dreams, condemned amongst a number of other occult practices of divination by the Council of Trent 1545-1563. The divination part with the dream workshop has to do with its purported spiritual direction purpose, divining where to go in life from your dreams.
The second is the pseudo-science of Depth Psychology where the interpretation of dreams is one of the key elements. Depth Psychology was listed in “Jesus Christ the bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the ‘New Age’” a Vatican document condemning the “New Age” and its practices. Dream interpretation is strictly forbidden for Catholics and for a very good reason.
So we see the Sisters of Mercy have no problems inviting fellow Sisters who use Occult/New Age/Neo-pagan practices condemned by the Church, nor inviting them here to do it. That is because some of the Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand perform such practices here as well.
Reiki Massage is part of the Chakra occult system, especially amongst Buddhist groups. The concept has to do with the eastern belief of energy flow and how one person can transfer energy to another person to increase their health and well being, or to heal them. The way this energy transfer is worked is by slowly passing the hands over the person’s body without touching them, but not too far off so the energy can be transferred. Reiki is condemned by the Church as to open yourself up to such practice, and many other eastern ones such as yoga, is to invite possession by demonic influences.
It is believed that the ‘discoverer’ of Reiki massage was Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist and Occultist. Most of these energy transfer massages in their belief required the building up of energy and passing it on, therefore depleting the energy of the person transferring it. Dr Usui claimed he tapped into his eighth Chakra and was filled with Reiki energy therefore allowing the Reiki Master to transfer energy to the other person without depleting any of their own energy. New Age practitioners of Reiki claim the practice originates from Atlantis. One becomes a Reiki Master, and therefore being able to perform it, by having the ability transferred to them by another Reiki Master, like a caricature of Apostolic Succession through Ordination.
A person I interviewed during my investigations described how she went on a course recommended by the Courts after being a victim of a violent crime. To her surprise the course was held at the Sisters of Mercy “Mercy Oasis Centre” in Ellerslie, Auckland. She stated that Mercy Sisters offered the service of Reiki Massage for those who attended the course, and some took the offer up. She said there was a special room put aside for Reiki. Of note however, is that none of the sisters were involved in taking the course.
I found on “www.reiki.org.nz” that Mercy Oasis was listed as a location under the section “Reiki Share Groups”. That the Mercy Nuns feel quite comfortable to advertise publicly that they provide such Occult services shows in my opinion they have crossed a very important and dangerous line.
Occult means Hidden
As the word Occult means hidden, it is hard to shine light on it as those who practice it usually keep it hidden. What I have mentioned in this section is by no means the full extent of what is happening in regards to Occult practice, which seems to be the domain of feminist nuns and their associates. I have only mentioned above what my web research has turned up and thus, that of which I am able to provide proof. In a number of discussions with various people in the course of my research, I have been told many stories of different types of occult and New Age practices being taken up by dissenting “Catholics” such as Visualization, Yoga, private “Masses” which have Wiccan elements, involvement in the ‘Millionth Circle’ initiative to change the ‘global consciousness’ and to collapse the patriarchal structures, “Re-birthing” etc. Sadly some of our convents have become covens.
We cannot deny we have a serious crisis of faith in the Church in New Zealand when we have Nuns engaging in practises such as Reiki Massage - something is seriously wrong. The Bishops need to take decisive action against such practices, as there can be no toleration of abominable exercises. A ‘slap on the wrist’ will not work on - if they do not repent of such apostasy, then the only option left is to formalise their ex-communication, which they have brought on themselves. Either way we cannot go on as we have been: there must be no more occult practices and no more turning a blind eye.
Mention must also be made of Carl Jung’s influence on the Neo-pagan movement, as his works are of great influence on religious feminism. Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist who was an associate of Freud’s. His work has been widely condemned by the Catholic Church most recently in the Vatican document on the New Age “Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the “New Age”” in which he is mentioned more than any other individual including the passages:
Jung, indeed, “not only psychologized esotericism but he also sacralized psychology, by filling it with the contents of esoteric speculation. The result was a body of theories which enabled people to talk about God while really meaning their own psyche, and about their own psyche while really meaning the divine. If the psyche is 'mind', and God is 'mind' as well, then to discuss one must mean to discuss the other”. His response to the accusation that he had “psychologised” Christianity was that “psychology is the modern myth and only in terms of the current myth can we understand the faith”
This is “the god within” to which Jung refers, the essential divinity he believed to be in every human being.
Jungian psychology and the Human Potential Movement have been very influential on Shamanism and “reconstructed” forms of Paganism like Druidry and Wicca.
For those not familiar with the term, Esotericism is another word used for Occult Mysticism. Donna Steichen in her book “Ungodly Rage: the hidden face of Catholic Feminism”, while discussing the Goddess neo-pagan movement mentions Carl Jung on a number of occasions:
The Jungian influence in feminist spirituality deserves attention. A sometime practitioner of the Occult, Jung was deeply interested in pagan ritual, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition. Some of his theories were in fact adopted by the Nazis as confirmation of their own occult theories
Jung’s belief that in the interests of wholeness, evil inclinations should be accepted and integrated into the personality rather than suppressed is also compatible with Feminist neo-Gnostics of all shades
Jung’s theories in place here
There is a connection between Carl Jung and the practices mentioned in the last chapter. Jung is behind the ‘Depth Psychology’ in “Jesus Christ the bearer of the Water of Life” and involved in dream interpretation. There is so much overlap between the theories of Carl Jung and the Chakra system, that it is believed that Jung might have based many of his ideas on it. So once one accepts the works of Carl Jung it is not such a big step to accept neo-pagan ideas and Occult practices, which Jung himself was involved in.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was based on the works of Carl Jung, and is designed to allow people who use it to discover their ‘psychology type’ for “better self under standing”. We find Myers-Briggs workshops advertised by the Sisters of Mercy “Mercy Spirituality Centre” in Epsom. Although not mentioned in “Jesus Christ: Bearer of the Water of Life” on ‘New Age’ practices the Myers-Briggs system is still based on the erroneous ideas of Jung mentioned many times in the document. The Myers-Briggs system is not accepted by psychologists, who view it as a pseudoscience. Yet, the Sisters of Mercy will charge you $75 for a six hour course on it.
One might well also ask: why is Carl Jung in the Religious Education curriculum for New Zealand Catholic Schools? The beliefs of Carl Jung are in the year 13 section E book “Psychology of Religion” in Chapter 3 which deals with the theme “Wholeness and Maturity”. This is a very interesting choice by the text book writers to link Jung with the concept of wholeness, considering a quote we saw earlier - “Jung’s belief that in the interests of wholeness, evil inclinations should be accepted and integrated into the personality rather than suppressed”.
The question has to be raised - why is Carl Jung in the curriculum at all? I can only guess that those who ascribe to him had a hand in writing the curriculum. The Psychology of Religion book did take a general overview of various well known thinkers in modern psychology that are widely ascribed to, and for some reason Carl Jung who is not. How we can have an entire text book devoted to psychology is beyond me, given the sparse attention given to the divinity of Christ, core Catholic doctrines and to the supernatural in the curriculum.
Even at the tertiary level you can see the hand of Carl Jung. The Catholic Instutute of Theology through the Adult Education Network of Auckland Diocese, offers a course on the Myer-Briggs system under the category “Ministry Formation and Pastoral Care”. The cost is $400 per person plus a $10 resource fee paid by their parish according to the 2007 handbook. The caption for the course states it is based on the pschology of Carl Jung.
That a course on the Myers-Briggs system is offered by Auckland Diocese in 2007 almost 5 years after “Jesus Christ the bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the ‘New Age’” came out condemning the works of Carl Jung as opposed to the Catholic Faith is surprising, that C.I.T. offers the course is not.
In addition to advertising Myers-Briggs courses, the Mercy Spirituality Centre also run Enneagram workshops. The Enneagram is also an occult practice, condemned in the Vatican document “Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the “New Age””. We note from that document:
…if not declared, conflict with all that is essentially Christian. An example of this can be seen in the enneagram, the nine-type tool for character analysis, which when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith.
The Enneagram is of unknown origins but was believed to be a form of pagan divination which was adopted and altered to become a psychological tool, although this makes it a psuedo-science as its results and methodology cannot be measured.
The workshop, called Enneagram unit two (unit one had been months earlier) was held at the Mercy Spirituality Centre at the cost of $45 dollars. The flyer stated the aim was “personal transformation”:
The Enneagram points directly to our unhealthy and destructive life responses while providing ways of changing thinking and behaving to achieve a better balance.
Of course this is far removed from the Christian position of changing our life and getting to grips with our actions which are destructive and unhealthy and by seeking right relations with God, going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction etc. Even the psychological profession does not take the Enneagram seriously and see it as un-scientific, so why do dissidents believe in it?
The presenters of the course, one a Mission Sister and one a Mercy Sister have a brief description of themselves. Both claim to be experts in the Enneagram as they had studied under “experts” of the system in the United States. Once again we see nuns going overseas and picking up pseudo-sciences or something like the “New Cosmology” instead of going somewhere decent and learning about the authentic Catholic Faith.
Teaching the Enneagram in Catholic Schools?
When looking into the Old Faith Central website, I could not understand why the Enneagram was on there under the subject Psychology and Religion, as it would mean that the Enneagram would have been being taught in Catholic secondary schools. So I asked an associate who was a secondary school teacher about the subject, and sure enough, the Enneagram was part of the New Zealand Catholic Religious Education Curriculum.
The entire curriculum has been for a few years under a state of revision, with the Enneagram I believe being left out of the later addition, although there are two main issues which still deserve to be looked at.
The first is that Religious Education is not seen even by Catholic schools as an important subject. Most school principals will swear that it is a core focus for them but the sad truth remains the vast majority of Catholic schools RE departments are woefully under funded and the RE text books are very expensive. Most RE departments are using the older text books, one of which contains the Enneagram, as it is not in the budget to buy the revised text books. So still in some schools the Enneagram is being taught.
The second question is: how did it ever get into the Curriculum in the first place? The answer is sadly that there were serious problems regarding those responsible for writing the curriculum for Religious Education with clear Neo-pagan influences in effect. This will be looked at in the following chapter.
While on placement at a Catholic school for Teachers College, I taught the NZ Religious Education Curriculum for 3 out of the 4 classes I took. I was extremely unimpressed at the material, as it had clear dissident elements to it, as well as being generally bad and not really teaching anything of depth about the Catholic Faith. The most important thing to keep in mind is that NZ RE curriculum was the end result of a long process.
I decided to review this process and went through the archived correspondence between those writing the RE curriculum and the theological consultant for the project Fr Paul Williamson SM. The correspondence is between the years 1990-1999 and is available from the Auckland Diocesan archives, although it only contains most of the total correspondence but not all of it. What I will be focusing on now is not what made it into the RE curriculum but what was put forward to be put in. This review will be very brief considering the correspondence covers about a decade and has many dissident/erroneous elements to it, but what I will be focusing on is some of the Neo-pagan influence.
This section is set out with the date of the correspondence, the draft material and Fr Williamson’s (the theological consultant) comments, sometimes followed by my own. Sometimes Fr Williamson does not quote the passage but refers to the item being commented on such as the first quote from the correspondence below:
Pg 4: Spirituality. An American Indian perspective on prayer
This clearly is not a Christian prayer. It makes no mention of Christ and tends to be pantheistic in emphasis…
That this pantheistic prayer is American Indian is important. Members of the Goddess Cult draw from the pagan indigenous religions of their countries. The use of an American Indian prayer suggests direct influence from American sources which have had huge influence in radicalising religious here.
Pg 6 “Without the gift of my life, the gift of my senses, all this would be nothing. I praise God that the universe is held in the wonder of my being”
Fr Paul: “This needs correction. It is incoherent and smacks of pantheism”.
On the 3rd page of the draft commented on, is a quote from Monika Hellwig the “New Cosmology” CTA member who had come to New Zealand in 1992 (the year before) and another example of how visits from dissenters can have widespread effects.
Fr Paul’s response to the quote shows its pantheistic nature: “It tends to reduce if not deny the difference between nature and grace, reducing the latter to the former”
On pg 10 of the correspondence we see a very interesting submission: “The creativeness of God (the motherhood of God the womb of all being) is called the Father”
Fr Paul: “This is equivalently heresy…. No where in Revelation does it speak of the Motherhood of God…”
The “womb of all being” and a female image of God heavily suggest the influence of the Goddess movement. Overall the sentence does not reflect Catholic thought.
This is correspondence in regards to the primary school curriculum, comments from one of the theological advisors:
We live in a time when pantheistic belief is widespread and even our children are confronted with this thinking in their T.V. shows, movies and books. By introducing Rangi and Papa in the context teaching about Creation there is a danger of leading our children into accepting pantheistic (All is God”) thinking.
“pg 35 God is Love. Reading this section gives the impression we reflect our love of God by loving the environment…” This statement reflects the pantheistic views expressed in the draft texts.
Commenting on a passage on meditation “The air you breathe is God. You are breathing God in and out. Become aware of that…”
Fr Paul: “This is either nonsense or pantheism. In all events it cannot remain as it is”
Under the subject heading ‘Teaching and Learning Experiences’: was the proposed statement “Sharing in the Tapu and Mana of God”
Fr Paul: “No one can “share in the Tapu and Mana of God” as this would entail pantheism”
Proposed text “Name ways people can experience God’s presence in creation through their senses”
Fr Paul: “This is absurd… This error, a strange pantheistic type confusion between creation and the creator has been pointed out before”. If you read over the correspondence this had been pointed out many times before.
What’s going on?
The above examples show that some of the work submitted is far from Catholic thought. Of course, this is why people submit drafts to get them checked- but the fact that a lot of the work submitted in the draft stage had so many basic errors in regard to the Catholic Faith, leads one to conclude that perhaps those writing it might not be the best people for the job. Some of these errors are:
21 May 1990: “The gospels in themselves are not historic events surrounding Jesus”
16 July 1992: Fr Paul: Putting Jesus on a par with Martin Luther and Buddha, even with qualifications, is objectionable, especially in a text for Catholic schools
12 November 1992: On Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism: “Teaches that other Christian communities have many elements which help constitute the Church”.
Fr Paul: “It does not teach this at all for the above is erroneous doctrine”. There are many such ecumenical errors in the correspondence. Also in same letter:
“The vision of some people in the Church of the future will not be a Church dictated by popes or councils”
Fr Paul: “The grammar is inaccurate and the theology erroneous. The Church has never been dictated to by popes or Councils. Both are essential aspects of the Church’s life”
And so on and so on. I believe many of these errors do suggest an agenda, as they comprise common dissenter beliefs/ideas, rather than being random ‘accidents’. I hope that the significance that one of the top theologians in Australasia continuously identified Pantheism in the submissions is not lost on anyone. Now we shall look at some others who also had issues with the submissions.
So is there any type of evidence to suggest that an agenda was being worked in the writing of the Religious Education curriculum? Yes, in my opinion.
The correspondence entered into the archives by Fr Williamson was not only between
himself and the writers of the curriculum but also between Fr Williamson and various Bishops.
The first letter is from Bishop John Cunneen to Fr Paul. This letter was not dated.
I hope we can have time on Wednesday (afternoon?) to look at syllabus curriculum + send Basil revisions ahead for you, if have time mean time it clearly is a major opportunity to redirect our efforts along authentically Catholic paths when all sort of agenda are being worked in “dedicated” ways
Till next we meet
+ John C
So it appears that there were concerns about how “Catholic” the material actually was, and that “all sort of agenda were being worked in ‘dedicated’ ways” implies such agendas were not Catholic in intent.
The second letter is the most cryptic one and dated 12th September 1995:
The enclosed notes are confidential, in fact better not say you have them. They are the record (name deleted) made of the suggestions of the bishops (mainly from ChCh ! ) on the Curriculum Statement. (name deleted) is supposed to incorporate them into it. We also asked that the theological advisors should be shown the text of the material that will be written for the programme. With some reluctance this was agreed to. So I hope you can keep up your vigilance. Thanks for all you have done so far.
+ Basil Meeking
I will not go into the attached material as it has little relevance, mainly a revised course outline. I cannot think of a reason why it was only on the insistence of the Christchurch Diocese that the theological consultants got this material, and why there was a reluctance to give them the material and why it was considered best that the consultants say they did not have it. Did it have any thing to do with the ‘vigilance’ that Fr Williamson had been ‘keeping up’?
Another letter, dated 26th March 1996, again shows concern from the other theological adviser, Bishop John Mackey.
Thank you for the comments on the primary school lesson plans we are definitely in “synch”.
I did not do as detailed a comment as you did because I was just out of hospital. However, as I remember, I was constantly referring back to the Catholic Catechism as a fuller statement.
You express succinctly my own sense that the texts are “monistic and humanitarian” rather than Catholic.
A Blessing and happy Easter to you + the community
+ John Mackey
Monism is the belief that all is one essence and fits nicely with Pantheism, as H.P. Owen points out: “Pantheists are ‘monists’… they believe that there is only one Being, and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it”. Humanitarianism doesn’t rise above the human, and certainly neglects the aspect of grace.
From “Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life: a Christian reflection on the “New Age”:
“Monism: the metaphysical belief that differences between beings are illusory. There is only one universal being, of which every thing and every person is a part. Inasmuch as New Age monism includes the idea that reality is fundamentally spiritual, it is a contemporary form of pantheism (sometimes explicitly a rejection of materialism, particularly Marxism). Its claim to resolve all dualism leaves no room for a transcendent God, so everything is God.”
Three of a Kind
So three Bishops had serious concerns regarding the curriculum based around how Catholic it it actually was. When one Bishop is trying to “redirect our efforts along authentically Catholic paths” as “ all sort of agenda are being worked in “dedicated” ways”, another is asking for secrecy and vigilance due to the political climate, and another calling it “monistic and humanitarian” rather than Catholic” - is something not wrong with this picture?
While on school placement teaching Religious Education (RE), I looked through all the textbooks and teacher guides I could find. The teacher guides for RE are of great importance. The entire New Zealand RE curriculum is designed so that teachers from other ‘real’ subjects such as English, Science and Maths etc can come and teach RE with no formal training in Catholic theology or catechesis. The teacher guides are, in theory, meant to provide all the background information needed.
This approach is one of many reasons RE is not seen as a “real subject” in Catholic schools by many students. Just because you supply a teacher with some information (and from some teacher guides I have seen, not very good information), that does not mean that they comprehend it or will be able to answer the obscure questions students tend to ask. If a teacher shows that they do not really know what they are talking about, they lose their credibility with the students, and this contributes to the perception that RE is not a real subject and that it is a waste of time.
There is the other issue that one cannot truly teach the faith if one is not living it. Not all RE teachers in Catholic schools are practicing Catholics, and there are even some who are not even Catholic or any type of religion at all. Of course there are questions in regards to some ‘practicing’ Catholic RE teachers. There are many examples of teachers of R.E. whose living arrangements contradict the moral teaching of the Church.
There are some RE teachers who are practicing but are of a dissenting nature and state these views to their students, such as a Mercy Sister who told her class that Mary had more children after Jesus, provoking a formal complaint to the school which nothing came of.
So the teacher guides are all important in the practical application of the New Zealand RE curriculum. I now would like to focus on the reference material in the RE teacher guides.
For Your Information
As I mentioned earlier some schools do not have enough money to buy the new textbooks and teacher guides and have to use the old ones. It also has to be said that although some things have changed in the revised edition textbooks, the vast majority of material is the same with old and new books being used together in the class room. I can understand why money is not spent to get some new edition books as the only real difference in some cases is the cover.
While on placement at a Catholic school I found most of the old teacher guides still in use. In the old books, but not the new ones, there is a reference section in the back. I am not sure if this material was drawn upon in the teacher guides/curriculum but it is labelled as “References For Further Study” with the subtitle “Useful Reference Books for Students”.
Some of the material in the reference section was highly inappropriate; the list below is a small section of these from the year 13/7th form curriculum:
Under the topic ‘Bioethics’:
Monika Hellwig’s “What are they saying about death and Christian hope?”
Under the topic ‘Creation: The Christian Response’:
Thomas Berry’s “The Dream of Earth”, Brian Swimme’s “The Universe is a Green Dragon”, Elizabeth Johnson’s “Women, Earth and Creator Spirit”
Under the topic ‘Psychology and Religion’:
Anthony de Mello’s “Sadhana: A Way To God”, Richard McBrien’s “Catholicism”, Isobel Meyers Briggs “Introduction to Type”
Under the topic ‘The Changing Role of Women’:
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza “In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins”, Sandra Schneiders “God is More than Two Men and a Bird”, Phyllis Trible’s “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality”, Miriam Therese Winter’s “Woman Word: A Feminist Lectionary and Psalter”, Hildegard with commentary by Matthew Fox “Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen”
In the above list, I have noted examples just from those authors - their works I recognise as being ‘of the Catholic tradition in name only’. I cannot comment on the others but hope they are not of the same school of thought. I will now do a review of some of the material on the reference list:
Under the topic “the Changing Role of Women” there is a list of videos to show a class for the topic. One of them is titled “Thea” and has the following description:
A male chauvinist meets Thea, the feminine side of God, who explains that God transcends all human categories. This helps the man accept the feminine side of himself and leads to reconciliation with his wife. Available from Catholic Communications Wellington
The only word I can think of to explain this is “agenda”. The above is erroneous theology, if it is meant to be Catholic. God’s names are divinely revealed with masculine language, and never with feminine. Jesus was male, and called God his “Father” and the Holy Spirit is also always referred to as “He”.
The part of the quote that states that the man “accepts his feminine side” is bad psychology. This flows from the erroneous concept of human beings as having both masculine and feminine sides, (as is the basis of Feminist thought), as opposed to the Catholic belief of human beings having fully masculine and feminine natures. This thought comes from the psychology of Carl Jung, hero of the neo-pagan movement.
It is not for the Catholic school system to replace theology with thealogy (the study of the Goddess)– to decide to move from the revealed names for God to innovations that are not consonant with the analogy of faith. The marital covenant between God and creation, between Christ and the Church, at the heart of the Revelation is seriously undermined by the feminising of God for ideological purposes.
Sadhana: A Way To God
Anthony de Mello’s “Sadhana: A Way to God” is a prime example to demonstrate that those who put together the curriculum were, in my opinion, unsuitable to do so. De Mello was an Indian Jesuit Priest who took on a blend of Hinduism and Zen Buddhism belief but stayed in the Church. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith made a statement against the works of Anthony de Mello, which is available on the Vatican website:
“Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one's personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.
With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm”.
From the notes on the notification:
“For this reason, those responsible for safeguarding the doctrine of the faith have been obliged to illustrate the dangers in the texts written by Father Anthony de Mello or attributed to him, and to warn the faithful about them”
And yet we are recommending his works to Catholic youth. This is not even mentioning his dangerous Eastern style meditation, warned against by the Church, which his book “Sadhana” teaches.
It is clear how de Mello’s ideas would be attractive to the ‘Goddess Cult’ as Eastern Religions are based on Gnosticism.
IN MEMORY OF HER
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza’s “In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins” shows how the God of feminist theology is no Christ but feminism it self. This is shown by the following quotes:
“The earliest Palestinian theological remembrances and interpretations of Jesus’ life and death understand him as Sophia’s messenger and later as Sophia herself. The earliest Christian theology is sophialogy. It was possible to understand Jesus’ ministry and death in terms of God-Sophia because Jesus probably understood himself as the prophet and child of Sophia.”
True to the title “A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins”, this is a complete reconstruction of Christian origins nothing to do with, and an attempt to undo, the Catholic faith. Jesus called God “Father” not Mother/Sophia. This is the (manufactured) origins of the ‘Goddess Cult’ of Sophia not the Christian Faith.
Fiorenza goes on to deny a number of core doctrines:
“As Child of Sophia he stands in a long line of prophets sent to gather the children of Israel to their gracious Sophia-God. Jesus’ execution, like Johns, results from his mission and commitment as prophet and emissary of the Sophia-God… The Sophia-God of Jesus does not need atonement or sacrifices. Jesus’ death is not willed by God but is the result of his all-inclusive praxis as Sophia’s prophet… The suffering and death of Jesus, like that of John and all the other prophets sent to Israel before him, are not required in order to atone for the sins of the people in the face of an absolute God, but are the result of violence against the envoys of Sophia who proclaims God’s unlimited goodness and the equality and election of all her children in Israel.”
Denying the necessity of the Crucifixion, denying Christ became incarnate for such a purpose, denying Christ is the second person of the Trinity and denying there is a need to atone for our sins to fix our relationship with God to gain salvation: this is completely against the Catholic Faith. This is text book feminist theology and has no place in the formation of our Catholic Educators but most of all our children.
As you might have recognised, a lot of names from the authors (of the books I listed from the reference list) are involved with the “New Cosmology” and the neo-pagan movement, and many are involved with Call To Action. Some have come and taught in New Zealand. These people are infamous for attacking and denying Catholic doctrine - yet their works are being recommended as good books for Catholic school students to read.
Some questions need to be asked: For research resources for assignments how many teachers have recommended the books on the reference list? How many students who wanted to know more about a topic were directed to these books? How many teachers read books from this list and took on erroneous ideas, which they proclaimed to class after class of Catholic youth?
Of course the problems are not just in the teacher guides but in the text books themselves.
To do a full review of the text books used in the New Zealand Religious Education curriculum would be a report in itself but know I would like to look at two examples of how there is inappropriate material in them and how they fit into a bigger picture.
For the 7th form/year 13 topic “Sects, Cults and New Religious Movements” I believe there is an agenda to label anyone who insists on Orthodoxy as a “Fundamentalist”.
The chapter in the text book is of concern as it gives the impression of a veiled attack on Catholic Orthodoxy and the Authority of the Catholic Church. In the same way the text can be seen as a factual statement it can also have an interpretation that is subversive to the Catholic position. For example the end of the chapter called “Are there Catholic fundamentalists?” which starts off:
Not only are there members of the Catholic Church who are biblical fundamentalists but there are also those who interpret documents of the Church in a literalistic manner
In regards to Church documents they make statements with only one meaning. The Church seeks to make its documents as unambiguous as possible so they are not open to individual interpretation, as that’s how error and heresy creep in. Calling someone who literally interprets a Church document, basically taking the one meaning the Church intended, a “Fundamentalist” gives rise to teaching individual interpretation which ends up in “that’s true for you but not for me” relativism. The text goes on:
They tend to have a selective approach to the Church’s teaching e.g.: statements about private sexuality are highlighted while statements on social justice questions are ignored or thought to be matters for debate only
The dissent movement in the Church is greatly characterised by their commitment a liberal form of social justice, to “create heaven on earth” rather than leading people to holiness for the next life. Also for dissenters the Church’s teachings on sexuality “are ignored or thought to be matters for debate only”. This is a poorly put bit of text. The next section of text rounds off my case:
Many of these people (fundamentalists) are attached to the theology and devotional life of the Church before Vatican 2
Although it is true there are such people (the group Pius X springs to mind) but when put together with the other parts of the chapter there seems to be a “New Church” agenda. Also a point of contention - how is the theology of the Church different after Vatican 2? Vatican 2 was not a doctrinal council so every doctrine in the Deposit of the Faith is still and will always be believed. Of course the dissenters interpretation of what Vatican 2 taught is questionable as is what they deem “pre-Vatican 2” i.e. out dated.
When this passage is linked up with other parts of the chapter I believe a picture emerges. For example under the title “Authoritarian leadership” the text:
Fundamentalist groups often have charismatic leaders, stern father figures, who assume the right and absolute power to interpret doctrine and enforce discipline
Considering we have a Father figure who is charismatic and has the power to interpret doctrine (bind and loose Mt 16:18) and is in charge of enforcing Church discipline, could this passage be a bit confusing for Catholic students? Does this not sound like a dissident description of the Holy Father? Unfortunately the questionable concern about “fundamentalism” is not only restricted to the RE text books.
Scripture and the Classroom
I received a document called “Scripture and the Classroom” from a former RE teacher. This was given to them while training to be an RE teacher at the C.I.T., with the material clearly stating that it is a document for the NZ RE curriculum. Although it is a document for teaching Scripture in New Zealand classrooms I find it strange that 4 out of the 7 pages are on “Fundamentalism”. Most of the criteria outlined for identifying a person as fundamentalist is very questionable including:
- “Often intolerant of alternative views and interpretations” – A great way to undermine loyal Catholics who oppose an interpretation of scripture that have no place in Catholicism, such as the “Biblical” foundations for God as ‘Sophia’.
- “Labels others as misguided or unorthodox and urges appropriate authorities to intervene”- good to discredit people who point out something being taught is not Catholic doctrine and ask the Bishop to get them to stop teaching error.
- “Change is perceived as a threat- seeks to return to ‘better days’ of the past” – Some changes which are being worked towards are illegitimate, like the push for a non- hierarchical Church, and are opposed by Faithful Catholics.
- “Stresses the importance of family life”- a very strange criteria indeed
There are a number of more questionable criteria. In the document under the title “Responses to Fundamentalism”:
“Remember that we belong to a diverse Church- there is room for everyone, including fundamentalists”
I wonder if “room for everyone” is referring to neo-pagan nuns. This puts forward the dissenter pluralistic ideal of Church - there is only room for those who believe as the Church believes. The whole idea of “the Church is big enough for every one” is erroneous and leads to Church disunity. Also the point:
Remember- that for the fundamentalist, the discussion is not academic, but an issue of faith that a student may be faced with a conflict of loyalty e.g. school and home
First conflict regarding dissent is academic as worldwide dissent is being driven by rogue theologians whose highly flawed works are not objective and only support their pre-conceived world view. Second this seems like an attack on parents who have sought to give their children good formation in the Catholic faith.
This fundamentalist labelling is used by dissenters worldwide. In Donna Steichen’s book “Ungodly Rage” we see this tactic being used by renowned feminist Mary Anthony Wagner, professor of theology, speaking at a “Women in Church” conference:
There she confided to fellow journalists that “fundamentalist” parents posed the most difficult problem she encountered teaching. She told me, in defence of feminist theology, that theologians no longer believed that revelation ended with the death of the last apostle.
This is a prime example. Revelation did end with the last Apostle so for Wagner to teach otherwise is heresy and when that error meets resistance because the student has been well formed by their parents, or the parents corrected the error, she then labels the parents as ‘fundamentalists’. What right did she have to subvert the authentic Catholic education those parents wanted for their children?
Of course there are two main points to this story:
1. The truth is that people that could be termed “fundamentalists”, such as Pius X, do not send their children to Catholic schools, they view them as heretical. A growing number of Catholic organisations are advising against sending children to Catholic schools, which seems prudent considering how many Catholic youth leave the Church one year after leaving a Catholic school. “Fundamentalism” is not a pressing issue in Catholic schools, so why all the attention? I think point two is the reason.
2. I believe that those being dubbed “fundamentalists” are Orthodox Catholics that will not stand for the “New Church” agenda, and is an attempt to discredit them. There is a good quote on this from “Ungodly Rage”:
Sr Mary Tobin talked of the “rising tide of neo-orthodoxy” making revolution more difficult
The Changing Role of Women
“The Changing Role of Women” is a subtopic of the “Current Religious Issues” 7th form/year 13 topic. There is so much material in there that smacks of a feminist, even neo-pagan, agenda and I fail to see how it could have made it into the curriculum.
Under the heading “Do structures and systems need to change?” it talks about women and structures of institutions from a very feminist perspective. Although much in the text is amiss this passage stands out more than others:
Contemporary systems analysts and management consultants in business corporations are rediscovering this different way of management. Many of them are promoting the replacement of concepts like hierarchy, competition and authority with participation, interdependence and creativity.
This is so very wrong it is not funny. Firstly I am a graduate of the Auckland University Business School in ‘Management and Employment Relations’ specialising in ‘Organisational Design’ and I know this is just not the case. This does not conform to real world business thought but it does completely to feminist ideology.
Secondly, it appears this is a veiled attack on the Church as it tries to portray authority and hierarchy as outdated and not ‘real world’ concepts, and so by default attacks the Church as outdated and in need of change. The text goes on:
Many women would say that the enhancement of women’s role and experience is an enhancement for all people, freeing men from stereotypes almost as constricting and detrimental as the limitations with which women have lived for most of recorded history
The above text demonstrates just one aspect of radical feminist thought, that men are bound by destructive self image which causes them to oppress women. Why are we letting the RE curriculum become an outlet for feminist grievances? Such a thing does not contribute to one’s formation in the Catholic faith, quite the opposite.
Under the chapter “Reading the Bible with New Eyes” there is an area of text called “Who was Mary Magdalene?” giving an overview of her life. An area of concern in the text is the answer to the question - what happened to her after the Resurrection as she was not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles?:
Outside the New Testament there are several references to her taking part in the early Church, in writings that were not accepted as part of the Bible.
I am concerned because the texts being referred to are the Gnostic texts, so beloved by the “Goddess Cult”. For example, the “Gospel of Mary” proclaims she was made head of the Church, instead of Peter. More on the Gnostic texts and Mary Magdalene pop up in the “Faith Central” chapter.
The wrong image
Chapter 6 in the “Changing Role of Women” is called “Experiencing the Sacred” which focuses on the controversial mystics Hildegard of Bingen and Mother Julian of Norwich (more about them later on in the Faith Central chapter). There are problems with the text in the chapter as shown by the following quotes:
When Julian wrote about the love of God, she used feminine images e.g.: ‘God all wisdom is our kindly mother’. There is a long tradition for the use of feminine images going back to scripture, but male images have been used almost exclusively in parts of the Church.
Anyone can mistakenly absorb a masculine God image
This question of ‘images of God’ and not wanting to use masculine images was a constant problem during the drafting of the curriculum as shown by these quotes by Fr Paul Williamson the curriculum’s theological advisor:
I recommend the original “him” of the text be kept. To replace all pronouns with God not only reads odd but sounds odd but flies in the face of Revelation which massively refers to God in masculine language and imagery without thereby implying God is male or that female is inferior.
The issue is not the “maleness” of God but rather the “masculine type” imagery that is used massively of God and why this should be so
The Revelation never called God Mother
“Fatherhood” in God is more than metaphorical
The above quotes are just a handful on the subject about the images used for God, showing disregard for the advisements of the theological consultant.
The last bit of text I want to look at is how feminists seek to pass on their own issues to the next generation of Catholic girls:
Anyone can mistakenly absorb a masculine God image. Any woman who does this may find that she is restricted in using her own experience to reveal God’s qualities and activities to her. Such a person may benefit from prayer reflecting on other images
Firstly God is not revealed to us by our own experiences. Secondly there was an “other images for prayer for women” article on the Faith Central website by Rosemary Radford Ruether, famed neo-pagan “Catholic”, putting forward alternate images for God including “Sophia”. Why is such text in a Catholic RE book?
It is no wonder that we have problems retaining Catholic youth when you consider that the class textbooks contain errors constantly advised against by the theological advisor, that some points deny out right Church teaching and state that anyone who believes anything the Church teaches literally is a “Fundamentalist”. More than just these two sections have problems with them, as the next chapter shows.
I would now like to draw your attention to a report that was written on the NZ RE curriculum titled: “Where Did You Say That I AM? The quest for the Divinity of Christ in the Secondary Schools Religious Education Program of Aotearoa/ New Zealand”
I got access to a copy of this report from a staff member at Good Shepherd College, the national seminary, asking if they had any information on the RE curriculum under the pretext I was studying to be a RE teacher. The staff member I talked to provided a lot of background information on “Where Did You Say That I AM?” as apparently it had a major impact on the revision of the Secondary RE curriculum. It was written as a Christological essay assignment for a theological paper at Good Shepherd College - by a student who was head of the Religious Education department at a Catholic secondary school.
Two things are very significant about “Where Did You Say That I AM?”. The first is the lecturer for the paper the essay was written for was Fr Paul Williamson, the theological consultant for the creation of the curriculum. This would mean on top of having a good working knowledge of the curriculum, being a head of an RE department, and having access to the theological consultant, the author had great insight into the material. Secondly, and explaining why it had an impact on the curriculum revision, the essay got an H grade. An H grade stands for ‘higher distinction’ with the essay, I was told, getting a mark of 98% - and this is at the theological college the national seminar uses, so I hope the significance is lost on no one. Basically it was a brilliant and insightful document.
Now let’s have a look at the key elements of “Where Did You Say That I AM?”.
The Reason for the Study
In the report’s introduction, the author gives the reason for researching the curriculum:
When I began to work as the Director of Religious Studies at one of Auckland’s Catholic secondary schools, I was disturbed to note that at every year level of the school there was very little sense of the Divinity of Christ. No matter what topic was being taught, I found that I had to back-track at some stage to cover the Trinity and the Incarnation. Many students seemed genuinely unaware of the teachings and were similarly surprised by the notion that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. It was not that they simply did not believe these fundamental truths of the faith, but it is just they did not realise they were meant to believe them
The study, which covered all 30 topics covered over 4 years: third form to sixth form (years 9-12), finds that there is a bias towards portraying the Humanity of Christ and towards downplaying his Divinity:
It is curious that a Religious Education program that focuses almost exclusively on the humanity of Christ, should refer to it as an ‘equally important truth’ rather than a ‘far more important truth!’. The writers seem to labour under the false impression that students will only think Jesus as divine. Indeed the Teacher Guide 3G, advises teachers to be alert for any student who may think of Jesus is ‘divine rather than human’, in order to inform them that the constant Christian tradition is that ‘Jesus is true God and true man’. Interestingly there is no corresponding vigilance recommending, regarding students who may have accidentally assimilated that Jesus is human rather than divine, from the down playing of his divinity that has been a feature of this program.
The End Result
From the report there was one passage which I believe spells out the end result of this exclusively focusing on the humanity of Christ:
Here it will be sufficient to note that, while the Catechism of the Catholic Church reveals a wonderful unity in its proclamation of Christ, so the Religious Education program contains its own inner unity: When the divinity of Christ is down played, Christ himself is reduced to the best example of human life, the miracles to myths, the Church to a human institution, the sacraments to signs and symbols, sin to social injustices, and salvation to liberation from unjust structures.
I concur with this statement and find it at the heart of not only of why the Church has problems retaining youth but at the core of dissent in the Church in New Zealand. Of course such a problem is only to the benefit of the neo-pagan/Goddess movement, which seems to have had a strong influence in writing this very flawed curriculum. Of course when you go to this extreme, focusing on the humanity of Jesus, Orthodoxy suffers and by default so does the faith of the individual being formed.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Now I would like to look at the “Conclusions and Recommendations” section of this report. There were 26 points made, of which half are:
- “By comparison the Christology in the first 4 years of the Secondary School Religious Education program is severely imbalanced towards the humanity of Christ and is neglectful and ambiguous about his divinity.”
- “The related dimensions of Trinity, Grace and Redemption and Eucharist tend to be underplayed or given a more humanistic emphasis in the program.”
- “A reductionism is discernible that tends toward Secular-Humanist Christologies, where Christ is controlled by the sensitivities of the post-Modern world and is reduced to the best example of an authentic human person.”
- “In general, there is an internally consistent humanism within the program, where Christ himself is reduced to the best example of human life, the miracles to myths, the Church to a human institution, the sacraments to signs and symbols, sin to social injustices, and salvation to liberation from unjust structures.”
- “The Secondary Schools Religious Education program does not adequately express the richness of the Catholic faith”
- “The Catechism of the Catholic Church cannot be retrospectively called the norm of reference for the theological content and presentation, in the Secondary Schools Religious Education Programme, as it currently stands.”
- “The concerns expressed by the Theological Consultants about the draft syllabus, have not been adequately addressed in the final draft. While individual sentences have generally been changed where directed, the imbalance of focus and the inattention to the unity and interconnectedness of the faith, remains.”
- “No program that has serious deficiencies identified by its theological consultants should be endorsed by the Catholic bishops, without full remedying of specific problems.”
- “The Religious Education programme needs to be rewritten, rather than edited, as it is seriously imbalanced and inadequate”
- “This task should be undertaken without delay, given the importance of passing on the faith to the next generation intact.”
- “This task must be carried out in close conjunction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which must be the norm of reference for this local programme.”
- “The issue is more than a question of orthodoxy or a correct exposition of the Catholic faith. The truths of the faith are revealed by God and they give the student access to God and God’s life. Students need the true Lord Jesus Christ and all that he has revealed through His Church, in order to flourish as human beings. In short humanism dehumanises.”
- “Students and parents have a right to expect, of a school that bears the name Catholic, an authentic and balanced presentation of Jesus Christ. Pastors have a loving duty to ensure that this is provided.”
- “The issue is too important to be ignored, through consideration of human respect or the costs and difficulties involved in addressing it.”
Although this report was an influence on the revision of the curriculum, it only helped get rid of the ‘glaring problems’ rather than address the fundamental faults. The recommendation “The Religious Education programme needs to be rewritten, rather than edited, as it is seriously imbalanced and inadequate” was correct and supported by Fr G.H. Duggen’s (former seminary professor) comments on the Catholic Schools curriculum in 1995:
The curriculum should be scrapped, and a new one drawn up, based on, and faithful to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This would at least make an improvement a possibility. Unfortunately, it will not guarantee an improvement. For it is to be feared that, in the words of an Australian writer, “the implementation of the catechism through new curricula will be left in the same hands that have presided over the disaster of the past 20 years, so that nothing will change significantly."
If you have the same people you get the same results - the revised NZ RE curriculum did not significantly change. For the sake of the faithful, especially our young, we need to change our ways.
In May of 2006, I sent my first ‘Dirk Van Holland’ report on the shocking material on the “Faith Central” website, the resource website used for Religious Education in Catholic secondary schools. “Faith Central” is owned by the Bishops of New Zealand and is administered by the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) and the National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS).
I never planned to write anonymous reports before the writing of this ‘Van Holland Report’, but a number of serious concerns meant that in good conscience I could not let them happen uncontested. “Faith Central” was a prime example, using the Catholic RE system to spread dissent to unsuspecting Catholic students. The website showed clear dissident bias with many of the links going to extremely inappropriate websites that opposed Church teaching. In my opinion this showed an agenda and lack of professionalism of those RE ‘professionals’ responsible for the site.
The following are highlights of the most inappropriate material cited in my “Faith Central” report:
Bishop Jacques Gaillot:
Bishop Gaillot had the rare dishonour of being deposed from his Diocese by the Vatican for misconduct including:
- Permitting married priests to celebrate Mass
- Blessing homosexual unions
- Encouraging distribution of condoms in schools
- Working to change Church teachings about divorce and contraception
- And condoning abortion, amongst other things.
He was given the empty Diocese of Partenia and started a website called the “virtual Diocese of Partenia” which was highly dissenting, although he has repented somewhat to get into the Vatican’s good graces again.
On the Faith Central website the text to the link regarding the “virtual Diocese of Partenia” stated that Bishop Gaillot “was ejected from his Diocese for speaking out on behalf of the marginalised in the Church and society”. On another link under a different subject it stated “Bishop Gaillot is Bishop for those who live on the fringe of the Church.” Such statements show a clear bias for Gaillot and against the Church.
One link under the subject ‘Biblical Names’ led to the Protestant “Cross Walks” website. This website offers to give the meaning of a biblical name from 3 different biblical translations. I typed in my own name “Simon” and got for each translation: “A physical half-brother of Jesus” “One of the brothers of our Lord” and “Simon the brother of Jesus”. A physical half-brother of Jesus? Why would they use such a website? It can be interpreted as an attack on the Virginity of Mary as well as the Divinity of Jesus which is an idea that gains strength when looking at the next website.
One of the most disturbing links on the “Faith Central” Bible Studies links was for the apostolate “Jesus Seminar”. The text on Faith Central:
The Jesus Seminar- a group of academic theologians who study Christian writings from the 1st to 3rd century CE, from a religiously liberal perspective. They are composed of members with "Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and independent" backgrounds. Their initial goal was to determine what Jesus really said. Their second goal was to describe what Jesus really did.
Here is a list of statements of belief from the “Jesus Seminar” (as from their website):
- Jesus did not claim to be the Messiah
- Jesus did not claim to be God
- Fellows of the Seminar do not regard Christian Scriptures as inerrant. They do not believe that the authors were uniquely inspired by God.
- The Gospel of John represents a religious tradition that is independent from the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). They differ so much that either John or the Synoptic Gospels must be largely abandoned in the quest for an understanding of Jesus' actual sayings and acts. The Seminar has largely rejected John.
- Jesus did not believe that his execution was necessary in order for those who trust in him as Lord and Saviour to be saved from eternal damnation
- Jesus believed that the Kingdom of God had already arrived in 1st century Palestine and was visible in the way that he and his followers treated each other. On the other hand, John the Baptist and Paul viewed the Kingdom as coming at a time in their future, sometime in the 1st century
- The Seminar main area of focus is the 5 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Thomas (a Gnostic text). Of these five books they have decided (by majority vote) that only 18% of the sayings of Jesus are what he actually said or what he probably said.
Clearly a far cry from Catholic belief, especially stating Jesus did not claim to be God and holding the Gnostic ‘gospel of Thomas’ up with the true gospels. This sort of material destroys the faith of our youth, and yet does anybody involved with Faith Central fear for their job?
“The Changing Role of Women”:
There were links to an article written by Rosemary Radford Ruether, trying to defend the use of Sophia for God. Just FYI Ruether is famous for stating in an interview "I could hardly tell her (a nun) that my devotion to Mary was somewhat less than my devotion to far more powerful females I knew: Isis, Athena, and Artemis”.
On “Faith Central” there were two links to sites about women’s ordination, one of them being the “Women Priests” site with the following caption with the link:
“The topic of Women's ordination is so controversial that the Pope has silenced all future discussion on the topic. This site presents information from both perspectives.
‘All the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and freedom of expression” Gaudium et Spes, no 62’. The case for ordaining women as priests also puts both sides of the position, but comes in favour of ordaining women”
‘Catholic’ educators should not be presenting both sides, which is trying to legitimise dissent on a doctrinal issue. Also “the Pope has silenced all future discussion” shows an agenda to turn our youth against the Pope by portraying him as oppressive. Finally misquoting ‘Gaudium et Spes’ trying to legitimise dissent shows an agenda.
Conscience, Morality and Values:
There were two links on birth control with one to an article titled “It's time to end the hypocrisy on birth control” which stated:
“It’s high time we admit reality: no amount of railing or threatening from popes or bishops seems to affect people's decisions on the use of birth control made in good conscience. On this issue, people have learned to trust their own intuitions, faith understanding, and life experience. On other issues, they may let the Church tell them what to do, but on this one they stand firm. Let's applaud their maturity instead of berating them for a supposed 'defection.'"
This is inciting Catholic youth to disobey the Church’s teaching on birth control. But this was not the only pro-contraception (and by default non-Catholic) website listed, the caption for the link for another:
“Birth Control and the Catholic Church: a very complete site on most aspects of this issue. It features a short history of Catholic teachings on birth control, an explanation of Church teaching, natural law and human sexuality, a comparison between natural family planning and artificial contraception, a discussion about whether the present teaching can be changed, letters about the Church's official teaching, and a list of further links and references.”
This site fully, and I mean fully, attacks the Church’s teaching on contraception. As for the “list of further links and references”, there were only two links, one of the to the “Call To Action” website. In my opinion there seemed to be an agenda to get Catholic youth to accept the use of birth control.
There is more but let’s look now at some of what is still on “Faith Central”.
The best place to look at a dissident, especially Feminist and neo-pagan, agenda is the “Changing Role of Women” topic. All of these websites were on the “Old Faith Central” website. As previously stated, two articles from this section link directly onto the “Call To Action” website – which I will not say much on except that it is unprofessional that this has happened, and those responsible should be held to account.
A clearly Goddess/Neo-pagan influenced website is Karen King’s “Women in Ancient Christianity: New Discoveries”. Karen King is a professor at the Harvard Divinity School, where Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza teaches. King up holds the ‘validity’ of the Gnostic ‘Gospels’. The link text states:
“Women in ancient Christianity. Karen King, Professor of New Testament studies, examines the evidence of the important place of women in early Christianity. She draws a surprising new portrait of Mary Magdalene and outlines the stories of previously unknown early Christian women. “
Almost all of the ‘scripture’ used are Gnostic texts popular with the Goddess movement. The “previously unknown early Christian women” are also drawn from the Gnostic texts. I believe a good rule of thumb is that Catholic educators, who cannot tell the difference between valid Biblical Canon and the Gnostic texts, should not remain Catholic Educators nor contribute to Faith Central.
The last two sites are different but still not appropriate ones dedicated to Mother Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen. Both are medieval mystics of distinction and have been adopted by the neo-pagan movement. Both are recognised by the Church but basically mystics are people who can get it wrong. Their visions are only deemed to be true if they match up with the Deposit of the Faith, otherwise the Devil would have a field day. Not surprisingly it is the areas that the Church rejects the ‘Goddess Cult’ love the most especially using female and pantheistic imagery for God.
Both sites have material calling for women’s ordination and very feminist essays - which should have ruled them out as unsuitable. There are a number of unsuitable texts on both sites but the most interesting piece is on the “Hildegard of Bingen” website. Under the ‘Internet Resources’ section, there are links to other Hildegard sites. Under the topic of “Mysticism” the only link is “PANTHEISM Hildegard of Bingen: visions of divinity”. The article links off to the “World Pantheism” website that fully outlines Pantheist beliefs and provides pantheist material.
So what we see on “Faith Central” currently are elements of Gnosticism, Pantheism, images of a female divinity, and women’s ordination - all Goddess themes.
It is clear from the Faith Central website that dissenters are abusing their positions to try and influence Catholic youth to accept their beliefs over the teachings of the Church. What is of gravest concern is the dissenter’s efforts to “convert” Catholic youth to their beliefs are turning them off the Church, putting them spiritually in danger. Of course in trying to get Catholic youth to accept their ideas they obscure actual Catholic teaching, robbing our young of their heritage of a Catholic identity.
Explain to me how the trust of Catholic parents is not betrayed by allowing their children to be exposed to this anti-Catholic material. Explain to me why these people who endanger the faith of our Church’s youth deserve to keep their positions. Although the next chapter will show that some people do not like me asking such questions.
The “Faith Central” reports I released apparently created some fall out. In these reports I questioned the ability of those members of the National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS) and the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) responsible for the “Faith Central” website considering how they could expose Catholic youth to such material. I also alluded to the neo-pagan themes. It turns out I must have really stepped on some toes because after writing a Dirk Van Holland report about the coming of Fr Richard Rohr I got an interesting email in reply:
“Dear whoever you are,
Having received several of your anonymous missives you need to know that people might take you more seriously if you came out of hiding and said what you want to say in public and live with the consequences.
You also need to know that some of your previous assertions about decisions of named individuals, who in your view, are supposedly responsible for, are perilously close to breaking the law. In fact you may be very surprized to also learn what professional investigations are being carried out to expose your anonymity so some of those you accuse, quite falsely, can defend their good name in the public arena. It is an extraordinary sign of weakness to closet yourself in anonymity!!
This email raises many questions: what are these “professional investigations” that are being carried out? Who are the group of people that this investigation is being under taken for? Professional Investigators are not cheap, who is funding this? Is it true or is Br Lynch using scare tactics?
Clearly my activities have been making some people very nervous. As for Br Lynch’s claim some of my pervious assertions “are perilously close to breaking the law” he might be very surprised to learn that I have been consulting with two magazine editors, and they assure me that I am well within the Law. It is not uncommon for people to threaten legal action to scare people who are trying to expose their misdeeds into silence.
Frankly I have driven my self completely broke to bring people this report, including doubling my student loan, so they can sue me as much as they want but 1. I have no money 2. They have no case 3. Getting things on public record for all to see: priceless.
I will now give a brief testimony of my experiences during my year of Teachers’ College (Education training), in doing the religious education paper to become a qualified Religious Education teacher for Catholic schools, and my placement in Catholic schools.
The Religious Education Paper
The Religious Education paper at Teachers’ College was run by C.I.T. and there were 6 people in my class. Since the paper was only one semester and we had only one class per week, we covered 2-3 major teaching subjects per class. These classes did not, in my opinion, equip participants with anything useful for the classroom, due to the superficial coverage. Due its rushed nature, the course did not allow for seeing where each member of the class was with their faith, which I believe was important, especially given that one of my class mates was living a lifestyle the Church does not approve of, which would be a bad witness for those they would teach.
Throughout the entire course the C.I.T. staff who lectured made a number of statements I consider inappropriate, including:
- Due to modern biblical scholarship we know the “Manna” which fed the Israelites in the desert during the Exodus was actually “Locus poo”.
- The Gnostic texts were not accepted into the Bible as they were the product of small communities and as such were not widely distributed/accepted
- The Jews during the Exodus did not cross the “Red Sea” and there was no parting of the waters, but instead they crossed the shallower “Reed Sea” (in the Nile Delta). This is a debate that goes on in mainly Protestant circles and we will never know for sure but the evidence supports the Red Sea and so too does the Church’s Tradition and as such should be the position upheld.
- That there were women Priests in the Early Church
- When asked about a characteristic of the Church, one of my class mates said “its hierarchical nature” - to which the C.I.T. lecturer replied, the Church is no longer meant to be hierarchical since Vatican 2, the model is now meant to be circular and inclusive.
- That at the Last Supper, the first Mass, instead of bread they probably used fish instead
- When talking about how self intention for communion is banned, we where directed to a parish were it is practiced “if you want that”, which just happened to be a parish were a fellow C.I.T. lecturer is parish priest.
This is cause for grave concern for the damage that such remarks could cause. For example, if one of my classmates went on to teach RE and said that there were Women Priests in the Early Church to a class of young Catholic girls. If the girls believed that, they could be put off the Church as they would see it as sexist and unjust as they will not allow women priests now. Dissenters in this regard are careless and destructive to the faith of our youth leading to low retention of young Catholics.
I do not know what the training is like in other dioceses but if it is similar then we are in a lot of trouble, as we are not taking the amount of care with our youth that they deserve and we are doing them a great injustice. Also of note it seems a great number of RE teachers have absolutely no training at all: a position of ignorance is not a strong one.
Placement at Catholic Schools
I will not talk of the first Catholic school I went to as a student teacher. I will comment that it was an interesting experience, that they had got so sick of the New Zealand Religious Education curriculum that they had stopped using it, and came up with their own RE course, which I will not comment on here.
The second Catholic School I was placed in was quite significant. It was a Sisters of Mercy girl’s school. The Spiral (the Goddess symbol) featured around the school. The main place it appeared was in one of the dedicated classrooms for religious education.
When I arrived they had just finished the topic of ‘Creation’. I found a loose handout for the topic that fell out of a girl’s book and the longer I was there I came across more of the handouts when I was checking books for homework. The handout was a poem, Goddess related, which included the following sections:
“In the beginning God the dancer, danced the dance of love, filled up the emptiness of waiting with her rhythm. She danced out the universe”
“Then God danced the mountains up and trod the seas deep down. She creased the land for rivers…”
“God danced two people into being and named them woman and man. She sang to them, “My children, join me in creation. Come be my partners and dance the dance of love””
Not suitable material for Catholic religious education.
On the walls were pictures created by the girls that covered the Maori creation myth of “Rangi and Papa”. Theological consultants advised against including this in the curriculum. The myth has to do with the ‘Sky Father’ and the ‘Earth Mother’ which of course fits into the Pantheistic/Goddess category all too well.
There was an item that was given to the girls (a product of the Mercy Oasis) which detailed the old Maori religion’s Myth of “Tane and the Three Baskets of Knowledge”. I found out that the “Three Baskets” theme was used for the Women Scholars of Religions and Theology conference. In my opinion there is a clear Gnostic/Feminist element to the “Three Baskets”.
I was extremely dismayed to learn that for a fundraiser the School had hired a hypnotist to do two shows over two nights. The Church is very clear that hypnotism is a forbidden practice, as it is dangerous mentally and spiritually. For that sort of event to be hosted by the school and presented to the girls as a bit of fun is incredibly bad witness to the faith. I was also greatly concerned that the event was advertised through the school newsletter and flyers which were present in some churches including St Benedict’s, the acting Cathedral, to be so wrong, clearly out in the open and the authorities to do nothing is alarming. However that was not the only disturbing thing I came across.
The Goddess Calendar
At the Mercy Sisters School I was based in the RE office, which was a small room with two work stations. In this room I came across a calendar for the year before (2005), titled “The Treasures Within: a celebration of the Feminine”. This was the calendar I referred to earlier in regard to the topic of the “New Cosmology”, Sisters of the Green Mountains Monastery. The Calendar was produced by the Sisters of St Joseph of La Grange and 7 out of the 10 artists were nuns.
The art work in the Calendar is what I would call “Goddess”, all linking femininity with divinity themes. This is also shown by the names of the art work such as “Trinita” and “Goddess Budding”. The Spiral features heavily not just in the art work but in the calendar proper. For example, next to the name of the month, all ‘bullet points’ are Spirals etc. The Calendar is covered in text all over with explanations about the art work from their creators. In each of the boxes for days are slogans, mantras and suggested exercises such as “write your hundred names for God”.
Each page of the Calendar has a piece of text that I would call “radical Feminist” and/or “Goddess” propaganda, most of which is written by the Nun who put it all together. An example of such text:
“Fear of nature, fear of women, fear of what is tender, dark, mysterious, strong, these fears characterise patriarchy. Perceived as “savage” and dangerous, Earth and women must be controlled!
The coherence of women and nature, Women’s body and Earth’s body, is Holy. Alluring beauty, mystery, rhythmic seasons of blood and spirit, secret powers to bring forth life and nurture it, powers of healing, intuition, interiority; the fierce wisdom of inclusivity, tender connection with All that is- these are qualities of the gods, treasured for millennia but a threat to the “male dominance” of an emerging Patriarchy. Thus begins the painful human phase we call “history”, written in men’s myths and the Holy Books of ‘civilization’… the story of a hundred centuries of war and conquest, fear, suppression, violence, violation, sacrilege and untold suffering.
Today? We have A TREASURE, long lost, painfully buried, NOW held in reverent hands and grateful hearts: WOMAN/EARTH”
Note the “/” between the words “woman” and “earth” in the sentence is actually a spiral.
The text above is typical of the radical feminist statements on each page of the calendar.
The calendar was also heavy on the themes of the “New Cosmology”/Pantheism.
It should be of no surprise that Sophia pops up a number of times in the calendar including the prayer (with a spiral next to the text):
“Sophia, Wisdom of god, touch the hearts of the Patriarchs, those fearful ones who need to control by power and might. Help them to realize that the wisdom and dreams of Earth and your feminine spirit are their dreams too. That this TREASURE is in them waiting. That greater than the power of fear or war, or control is THE POWER OF LOVE”
The infiltration of Goddess ideas and material in the Church and Catholic schools is truly insidious. Such material has no place in a Catholic school.
How are we showing love to our children by giving them the worst possible religious education system? I cannot see how in good conscience we can continue the way we are as we are not even making sure our youth know the essentials of the faith. So then is there any wonder why so many youth are leaving the Church.
The training of RE teachers is virtually non-existent. Catholic schools lack well formed staff so much so that one school enlisted the services of a hypnotist. RE teachers can dissent, deny Doctrines/Truths of the Faith, and still keep teaching our youth, leading them astray. Goddess material is being distributed in Catholic schools. The list goes on and on, and it is disgraceful if we continue going on and on with the same system that is failing us so badly.
We need a radical change in Religious Education in this country, a new system, and dissenters are to play no part.
As the beliefs of those with agendas have resulted in the failure of the Religious Education system, so to are they leading to failure of diocesan governance.
I now would like to draw you attention to a document produced by the Auckland Diocese called “Report of the Working party looking at the permanent deaconate and the possibility of its introduction in the Auckland Diocese”. The significance of this document is that if it was in favour of the permanent Deaconate then men, especially married men, could become deacons. As deacons are ordained, receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders, they would be ordained ministers and invaluable in covering the short fall of priests. Currently we have lay people performing tasks deacons would do; tasks ordained ministers should be doing.
This permanent deaconate document shows dissenters in Church roles dissent against Church teaching and the results are not Catholic. The document starts off:
The working party asked the question “would the introduction of the deaconate assist the Auckland Diocese to move forward?” and were unable to come to a consensus on this. We have therefore outlined the arguments for and against introducing the permanent deaconate in the Auckland Diocese.”
The rest of the document is listed as Pros and Cons in opposing columns with a brief written summary at the end. Most of the listed points, mainly the Cons, in my opinion betray beliefs which should not be held by those doing such important diocesan work. To save space here is the briefest overview, although there is much more to comment on.
Pros and Cons
One Pro was “It will carry the Church in Auckland forward into the future with a new dimension” and its Con was “It is looking backwards at a model of hierarchical church”. The Church is, has and always will be hierarchical in nature as Christ intended and calling it “backwards”, implying not of the future, shows dissident belief.
One very questionable Pro “Once the permanent deaconate is restored NZ bishops can lobby Rome to include women”. Feminists have put forward women should push to be ordained as deacons because once this happens they will argue that if women can receive Sacrament of Holy Orders why cannot they become priests as it is part of the same sacrament. The Con is the pipedream “It does not require the permanent deaconate to be in place to lobby” showing an agenda for women’s ordination.
Another Pro states “…evidence suggests that a majority of pew Catholics would welcome permanent deacons.” Its Con - “Its introduction may restrict the growth of hard-won lay parish ministries, especially those of women.” We see clerical and lay ministries being put on a par, not the only time in the document. Lay ministries are to cover a short fall, not to be a valid alternative for any level of cleric. Also saying parish ministries are “hard won” shows the lack of understand that such a service is a privilege not a right.
I would now like to draw you attention to the “Sr Elaine Wainwright-Report” where the article states Sr Wainwright said “We were told that ancient wisdom recognised female power at the heart of creative power... female power is holy and divine.” I bring this up so it can be compared to one of the Cons in the report:
“It is gender exclusive and will alienate those women currently in leadership roles in parishes and communities. Symbols point beyond themselves to a deeper reality- when the main functions of the church are always symbolised as male, women are not represented as divine/holy”
In my opinion there is a clear cross-over of thought between the two statements. Representation of women as divine would mean portraying a Goddess. Of course female celebrants would be best for representing a female God/dess, perhaps why the document calls for women’s ordination. How the statement “women are not represented as divine/holy” entered the diocesan document becomes clearer when you look at the working party.
The Working Party
The working party consisted of eight people, 3 of whom just happen to be on the Carol Christ email list, including the sender of that email Pat Lythe, who was also the secretary, which I assume means head, of the group. It is also of note that one member of the working party is a member and project manager for the National Council of Women, a feminist organisation seeking to end all discrimination against women, which is how feminists see the non-ordination of women. The fact that the report was discouraging ordaining deacons as long as there were lay ministers available (holding both on a par) because it might alienate lay ministers, especially women, might have had something to do with one member being a lay woman chaplain for an ethnic community.
So out of the eight people in the working party, 3 were on the Carol Christ email list, one is a ranking member of a feminist organisation and another is a woman in lay ministry who from the report was against the permanent deaconate. That’s 5 out of 8 members of the working party that in my opinion seemed to have an agenda not to bring in the permanent deaconate. I imagine the working party not being able to come to a consensus was a powerful negative force and potential death blow for the permanent deaconates introduction in Auckland Diocese.
Working Party or Feminist Party?
The entire document on deacons expressed many views which have no place within the Catholic Church, showing how may of the members are “missing the point”. That there was talk of representing women as “divine/holy” in my opinion shows more of a modernist/feminist/Goddess artificial construction of God as opposed to the transcendent personal God who has revealed Himself to us of the Catholic Church.
It seems to me that the entire project was doomed to fail due to the number of agendas against it.
So the question is: considering the large number of dissenters that occupy key positions in the Church’s bureaucracy, what else has been and will be doomed to fail?
I believe the best evidence for cases against the dissenters are in their works, in their own words. The most worrying thing about our Crisis of Dissent is not the numbers of hardcore dissenters, as they are a very small group, but they have got into key Church positions and “revolutionising from within”. Basically put - the dissenter network in New Zealand punches above its own weight. We must not simply assume that a person who is a Church worker is a good and loyal Catholic.
Sadly we have not been that vigilant in the Church in New Zealand because a number of people with Church given positions have been saying some very worrying things, as well some not in the Church who cast a lot of light on our situation.
I would now would like to draw your attention to a chapter in the book “He Kupu Whakawirua- Spirituality in Aotearoa New Zealand Catholic Voices” which was highly dissenting. This book was of course edited and published by members of C.I.T. and all articles in it mainly by C.I.T. staff and associates. Remember the quote from Rosemary Neave who wrote a comment for this book:
“I have experienced in Catholics I have met, some of the most thoughtful, provocative and radical spiritualities and lifestyles. I have not met much of it in these pages, though it is there in veiled references.”
I think I might have an idea of what she means in an article from the book “Around Cups of Tea and Coffee: Pakeha Women’s Spirituality”. The article was written by Sr Ann Gilroy, who was at the time Dean of C.I.T. and specialised in teaching feminist theology and spirituality. In my opinion hints of neo-paganism are there “in veiled references”, for example:
“Other women have turned to the earth and her fertility as embodying the creative energy of God. This has been facilitated through their involvement in groups such as Creation, Earth, Celtic Spirituality, Hildegard of Bingen and women’s ritual groups. Participation in these groups allows women to celebrate the mystery of life in the rhythms of seasonal changes”
“In recent years, women have become more aware of the importance of environment, of the sea and nature in shaping women’s image of God.”
In the first quote we see groups with pantheistic influences bring about an ‘embodiment’ of God shaped by “the earth and her fertility”, which suggests being apart of the pantheistic Goddess Cult belief. Groups such as ‘Celtic Spirituality’ which is of manufactured origin but claims to be ancient, like Wicca, and Hildegard of Bingen are vehicles for the “pantheistic push”, as we see with the Hildegard website which is linked from Faith Central which it self links onto the World Pantheism website. As for women’s ritual groups, what rituals are they performing?
For the second quote we see how feminist theology creates its own false idols creating their own God as due to their feminism they cannot embrace God the Father despite this being what has been Divinely Revealed to us so we can know God more. Further hints of the neo-pagan movement are in the casual mention of the occult and how it is beneficial:
“Many have benefited from their participation in the Enneagram courses, interpretation of dreams, Renew, short courses on the Sacraments, Marriage Encounter, workshops coping with grief, styles of prayer…. Women appreciate the ongoing formation that these courses offer them.”
Stating that the Enneagram and the interpretation of dreams is “ongoing formation” might be accurate if you are talking about a faith that is not Catholic, due to the occultic nature of both. You cannot be “formed” in the Catholic Faith through those things the Church rejects. Also the Renew program is made up the works of the biggest names in Catholic dissent (Mary E Hunt, Monika Hellwig, Thomas Berry, Sandra Schneiders etc), as well as having documented neo-pagan/Wicca elements to it. For more read the “Dissent” section on the website ‘Our ladies Warriors’.
That the Dean of Studies of the C.I.T., at the time seems in my opinion to be giving veiled references to the neo-pagan movement in the Church as legitimate paths for women to follow, and praises occult practices that the Church condemns, not only shows why C.I.T. needs to be shut down but also begs the question: how have we been so blind?
Jesus: Prophet of Sophia?
Now let’s look at Sr Elaine Wainwright RSM who is Head of the Auckland University School of Theology which the C.I.T. comes under. In the “Wanderer” articles on “The Goddess Cult in Australia” she was listed under the section “The Powers that Be”. There is also mention of how she taught the “doctrine” of ‘Christ Sophia’ to seminarians in Brisbane. In the “Sr Elaine Wainwright Report” (referred to as the Wainwright Report in this chapter) an eye witness describes a lecture by Wainwright called “Tapping into the deep wellsprings of wisdom: in search of Sophia” done for C.I.T.. But what does Elaine Wainwright say herself about Sophia?
“Shall We Look for Another?”
To find this out I went to the C.I.T. library and got out Elaine Wainwright’s book “Shall We Look for Another? A feminist rereading the Matthean Jesus” and flipped to the back index to see if Sophia was listed as a topic, and sure enough she was.
In the Wainwright Report there was the passage:
The most offensive part of this seminar was Wainwright’s denial of Christ’s divinity. She stated that Jesus was a prophet of Sophia, follower of Sophia.
Compare this with “Shall we take another look?” (note Wisdom with a capital W is referring to Sophia):
“Sophia/Wisdom is rendered justified in the deeds of John and Jesus. Such a meaning would have been even stronger for those who had retained echoes of the Q tradition-Wisdom is justified by her children. The path of wisdom chosen by the ascetic eschatological prophet and the Chosen by the prophet of inclusive table-companionship, both of whom are Wisdom’s representatives or prophets, are ways by which Wisdom’s righteousness is rendered visible. The contemporary reader catches a glimpse here of possible subjugation of knowledge, the recognition of both Jesus and John as prophets of Sophia.”
Also a later passage:
“Such imagery creates a tension in a symbolic universe characterised by open-endedness and the expansive participation of Sophia God and Sophia’s prophet Jesus, among humanity”
Two passages from the Wainwright Report tie into “Shall We Look for Another?”. From the Wainwright Report:
“The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ was referred to as ‘the Jesus Story’”
“Sophia, she claims, is the ‘female manifestation of divine wisdom’ and the ‘female gestalt of God’”
Compare this from “Shall We Look for Another?”:
“The way we tell the Jesus story; image Jesus according to male specific or multidimensional categories; locate the Jesus proclamation within the patriarchal tradition of maleness of the Jesus or within the Jewish emancipatory tradition of the female gestalt of God, Sophia…”
Of course, none of this is not Church teaching but according to Wainwright this was because males have sought to oppress women, banishing “Sophia” from the faith. From the Wainwright Report quoting Wainwright herself:
“We must be willing to work at altering the ‘mind-set’ of both the laity and the patriarchy, as the ‘mind-set’ has been manipulated by the hierarchy of the Church , who have hidden parts of the Bible showing the important part played by women in the early days of the Church”. Any mention of Sophia they exiled altogether we were told!”
Compare this from “Shall We Look for Another?”:
“Why the image of Jesus Sophia was suppressed invites consideration, but few firmly founded conclusions are possible. Luise Schottroff suggests that Israel’s sapiential traditions belonged to Israel’s elite males, scribes, and teachers, and that the Armenevangelium, the good news to the poor, finds its home among women and other dispossessed. The first tradition, therefore, would seem to exclude the second and became the dominate one.”
So holding such belief feminists are seeking to “altering the ‘mind-set’” of the Church. Why cant people see Catholicism and Feminism are at war, compromise is not possible.
It is most telling that all of the statements about “Sophia”, allegedly made by Wainwright in the ‘Sr Elaine Wainwright- Report’, written in 1995, appear in her book “Shall We Look for Another?” published in 1998. This means those of a dissident nature cannot write-off the “Sr Elaine Wainwright Report” so easily especially when the comment on the Sophia lecture done for C.I.T. was described as:
“What I encountered at the seminar was not Catholic, but neo-pagan feminism”.
This is given even more weight with the Womenspace scandal in 2001 and Wainwright lecturing at the Carol Christ Research Symposium in 2005. In my opinion it is concerning she has a high profile in the Church in New Zealand.
This report would not be complete without a few words from Carol Christ herself, as her “research symposium” is what led to this report, from her book “She who changes: Re-imaging the divine in the world”. All quotes are taken from the introduction but the topics of the quotes appear all throughout the book. It is apparent that the Goddess has arrived:
“Though the post-traditional Goddess movement has grown and matured in America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand…”
The acknowledgement by Carol Christ of the Goddess movement’s presence in New Zealand, and that it has “grown and matured” is something of a worry. What she might mean by that might be in the next section:
There are a growing number of spiritual feminists who (with greater or lesser degrees of secrecy) participate in Goddess groups and meditate or practice yoga as well as attending (or even leading services in) church or synagogue.
This is an acknowledgment by Carol Christ that Christian feminists secretly participate in Goddess activities, although you might have gathered that from this report. The taking on of Goddess beliefs by Christians is shown by:
“…some Christian feminists have been re-imagining the divine in the world from a process philosophy perspective for several decades…”
Process Philosophy is pantheistic in nature as stated Carol Christ in her words:
“The process view of the world as the body of God has as much in common with pantheism than it does with traditional theism”
Of course Sophia gets a mention. Carol Christ mentions the infamous “Re-imagining Conference” of Christian feminists in Minneapolis in 1993 including their prayer to “invoke the divine power”:
Sophia-God, Creator God, let your milk and honey pour out, shower us with your nourishment.
Our sweet Sophia we are women in your image: With nectar between our thighs, we invite a lover, we birth a child; With our warm body fluids, we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations.
Many infamous “Catholic” feminists went to this conference. It is suspect that Sophia was a Gnostic deity. Although it is claimed that it is just calling the Christian God ‘Sophia’, which is just wrong, why then does so much Gnosticism appear in the “Christian” feminist movement?
So we see in Carol Christ’s book that the “Carol Christ Research Symposium” was based on and many Church workers were invited to that: Christian feminists secretly participate in Goddess worship, there is an acknowledgement of the Goddess movement in New Zealand, “Christian” feminists have brought into pantheistic ideas and finally “Christian” Feminists use “Sophia” to refer to “God” (not the God of Divine Revelation though).
Finally Carol Christ mentions the people she drew from their works for her book including ‘discoverers’ of the “New Cosmology” Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry.
The truth is out there
Just because something is published and therefore ‘enters into the public domain’ does not mean that all members of the public are aware of that information. For example, few Catholics actually pick up and read a copy of Tui Motu, allowing a number of Church employed theologians to attack Church teaching within its pages. Yet they remain comfortable in their roles, as few Catholics know about such scandalous works. The tread of the Neo-pagan movement in the Church is even recognised in the works of the ‘mother of the modern Goddess movement’, yet what Catholic would read them. Elaine Wainwright beliefs about Sophia can be found in her works and yet who is actually reading them?
All this material is circulated through a certain network, those dedicated to revolution in the Catholic Church for various reasons whether modernist, Goddess etc. We need to be aware of what is said by those who are in Church positions, as too often the views being expressed are not that of the Catholic faith, but against it. We cannot expect those who rail against the faith to propagate it, hence we need to replace dissenters with those who love the Catholic Faith completely.
Here is some food for though on how this Dissent is costing the Church in many ways:
The most tragic cost that we are paying because of this Crisis caused by dissent is losing our young. Many point to the increasing numbers of Catholics in New Zealand, although this is false economy. Church numbers are rising because of immigration of foreign Catholics to New Zealand which covers over that there is a catastrophic lack of retention of young “cradle Catholics” who are New Zealand born and bred.
The primary cause of this is a fundamental lack of knowledge about Catholicism by the vast majority of Catholic youth. How can some one say “I am a Catholic” if they do not really know the first thing about Catholicism? If they do not know the Catholic Church is the One True Church they will not know why the Church can teach infallibly on matters of Faith and Morals. They will believe that the Church can be wrong on some things, and once you reject one doctrine of the faith you reject the Catholic Faith in its entirety.
If religious education in Catholic schools is not reformed it will continue to be viewed as a non-subject which is a waste of time and by extension so too the Catholic faith. The lack of knowledge of some teachers, the dissent of others, the bad material, not being a NCEA course and not dealing with the right issues etc: it all adds up.
One in Ten
It is one thing to state that large numbers of Catholic youth are leaving the Church the first year after they leave school but what kind of numbers are we talking about? I have repeatedly heard the number of only 1 in 10 Catholic youth continue to practice their faith after leaving school. So I wrote to the National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS), who informed me that they did not keep such statistics and to try the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO), who referred me onto the head of the National Council for Young Catholics who replied:
Hi (name deleted) and thanks for your enquiry.
The sort of statistics you are seeking are not sought nor kept probably because there would seem little point when observation demonstrates the clear lack of young adult presence in church.
The 1 in 10 estimate is, I believe, simply a common way of saying 'not many'!
What is of far greater interest is why the young choose not to connect with the parish community - during and after their college years.
Can I ask what you want the statistics for?
National Council for Young Catholics
I find this email disturbing for many reasons. That such statistics are not sought or kept by any Church agency means we cannot track the effectiveness of the systems we have in place. There are a number of issues around this but if the current systems are failing to the point that “observation demonstrates the clear lack of young adult presence in church” we have a real problem. If the number 1 in 10, probably worse, is the case this poses one question: in any other organisation this would pose a radical change in direction, so why not with us? There needs to be a radical rethink of our youth policy.
Note: The Church in Australia does keep such statistics; calculate the number for them to be less than 1 in 10 youth stay in the Church the first year after leaving school. To be considered is similarities in culture, social trends etc which might mean we are talking about similar numbers. Or that since 25% of Australia is meant to be Catholic the Church is more of a national cultural force they would have a better retention rate than here.
The first year after leaving school: and beyond
I find it most bizarre that as most Catholic youth leave the Church the first year of leaving secondary school, why tertiary education ministry has been neglected to the point of tokenism in most cases. The first year after leaving school, when they are most likely to lapse is at university. Not all Catholic youth end up going to university but many do. They are now adults where their faith has become their own and it is likely they have little knowledge about Catholicism. Places like universities can be very anti-Catholic/Christian and if a youth is not properly formed in their faith they are in danger of doubt caused by lack of formation and finally lapsing. So should not tertiary ministry be a major focus for the sake of retaining our youth so we can bring them to God? The answer is a mighty yes.
Unfortunately Catholic University Societies which used to have hundreds of members were left to run down over the years. Dissenting Chaplains, selling of student centres and one instance were a chaplain ended a Catholic Society, an autonomous lay organisation, because he thought the idea was elitist especially as many Protestants used the Catholic student centre etc, all took its toll. We need Orthodox Chaplains and places Catholic youth to go to help them with their faith in a time when 9 in 10 stop Catholic youth stop practicing.
The gravest concern is that this neglect of Catholic youth is a grave betrayal. Those who are working in the most dedicated ways to bring about this “Church of the Future” are turning off our youth who are the future of the Church. When they are teaching dissent to our youth few “convert” to the dissenter’s beliefs. All they hear is the Church is wrong on so many things, its sexist, its oppressive, its out of touch, other “churches” are just as good, its all relative to a persons conscience etc consequently they do not wish to dedicate their life to the Church nor practice the Catholic Faith.
And the thing with dissenters targeting youth is that these are not their children, they have no right to disrespect the parent’s rights for an authentic education in the Catholic Faith like they do. The Church has no future in this land without our youth to follow in our foot-steps. Unless we deal with this issue immediately we are willingly compromising the Church’s Mission in New Zealand.
The Church’s mission requires money from stipends for the clergy to full wages for lay employees, for maintenance on Church properties, managing Catholic schools to list just a few things. It is rare for a Diocese to “make a profit” and it is not unheard of that a diocese comes dangerously close to bankruptcy. Money is a scarce resource and sadly, due to our current crisis of dissent, a lot of Church money is basically wasted.
Every week the Church relies heavily on the generosity of those who attend Mass and put their hard earned money in the collection plate only to have it put towards things that they would not approve of.
A prime example of this is Catholic education which is an area were dissenters are disproportionately over represented. It is not cheap to run a tertiary institute like the Wellington Catholic Education Centre or the Catholic Institute of Theology especially when a lot of their members are lay people that have to be paid a salary of a professional academic. When religious educators use their Church-given positions to dissent, which is opposing the Church’s teaching that they are hired to teach, instead of helping the Church in its mission, they are hampering it.
There should be a restructuring of all the Dioceses not only to re-staff positions which need people of Orthodoxy but also we need to review the value of some offices and programs and make hard decisions regarding their scrapping or down sizing. We literally cannot afford, either financially or in regards to the faith, to continue to fund dissent. We need to go back to basics and get them right first which might mean some programs might have to be shut down and the funds reallocated. If it is an area that needs attention the program can be re-founded later. We cannot rely on Divine Providence for funds when we openly tolerate dissent/blasphemy; as God does not reward sin.
As a result of our current Crisis of Faith there is schism in the Catholic Church in New Zealand. This schism is not a formally declared one such as between the Eastern and Western Church, but an un-official one between the Catholic Church in New Zealand and “Church of New Zealand” The dictionary definition of Schism:
“The separation of a Church into two Churches or the session of a group owning to doctrinal, disciplinary, etc, differences”
A prime example of schism is the Eastern Churches. The Eastern Orthodox share almost the same doctrines, have the Seven Sacraments, a valid priesthood etc. They, when it comes down to it, only really reject one doctrine and so they are in a state of schism. As they reject the doctrine that the Pope is Leader of the Church and as such they are not in Communion with us and therefore not Catholic.
As for dissenters here they have taken on the pantheistic “New Cosmology” with abandon which is contrary to Catholic belief, they reject the sacramental nature of marriage and its in-dissolvability as shown by their acceptance of divorce and “remarriage”. They claim conscience is supreme which allows them to contradict the teachings of the Pope, the Church and Christ as long as it is ok with their “conscience”. We have an informal state of schism in the Church in New Zealand and denying this does not make it any less true.
Dissent, Disunity and Schism
Dissent is the cause of our Crisis of Faith, our schism and our disunity. Dissent always leads to conflict as it attacks what it rejects; where adhering to the beliefs of the Church and rallying around the Pope brings the unity Christ prayed for “That they may be one”.
If you have a problem with a doctrine of the faith, that is your point of conversion. Sadly for dissidents they believe the Church should change to suit them. Sadly we have people who know they are no longer Catholic but have decided to stay and “revolutionise from within” as Rosemary Radford Ruether put it.
This revolutionising leads dissenters to attack the Faith and when a faithful Catholic defends it, they act like the defence was an unprovoked attack. The claim the defender is being divisive, calling them things like “fundamentalist”.
Of course after causing conflict they call for unity. The appeal for unity is designed to paper over the fundamental differences and to seem to be reasonable. When they call for unity they are trying to hide their error, wanting the fighting to stop before they are held to account. They label those who will not yield till the error is corrected, as some type of warmonger despite they are only defending what the dissenter is attacking.
All of this affects Church unity as the militant agendas of dissenters causes constant conflict. Appeasement and compromise do not work, they will not stop till they get completely what they want or what they want for their appeasement cannot be rightfully given to them, and yet some times we give it anyway: to our shame.
When it comes down to it there are many more costs involved in tolerating dissent in New Zealand. It is sad but once people start believing something different than what the Catholic Church teaches then it does become an “us and them situation” with conflict inevitable. You cannot have groups “doing their own thing” and not experience a loss of mission as both sides have different goals in mind. Once groups start doing things their own way then the ‘Catholic’ or ‘Universal’ character of the Church is diminished with the great mysteries of the Church are reduced to nothing more than a construct of a certain community. Groups that seek to break Church teaching to be “inclusive” end up being exclusive as they take themselves out of union with the universal worldwide Church to have their own little thing.
Dissent is costing us, dissent is dividing us. Dissent is costing people their salvation; I dread to think of how many of the 9 in 10 youth that stop practicing the first year they leave school we have ultimately failed. Dissent is costing us our integrity as instead of witnessing to the Catholic Faith as one we are giving different stories, and no one trusts a witness that gives different stories. Dissent is costing us our holiness as the Church here is being defiled by neo-paganism and the feminist constructed “Goddess” which is nothing more than the devil in drag.
How can we in good conscience continue on covering the costs of tolerating dissent? Are we not selling out the Church and its people? It is not just what evil is being done but what good could have been done in its place which is the real cost.
Why the Goddess Cult? Why nuns practicing the Occult? Why the acceptances of the pantheistic “New Cosmology”? Because we are experiencing what Catholic historian Hillary Belloc called “The Modern Attack”.
“The Modern Attack”
“The Modern Attack is a wholesale assault upon the fundamentals of the Faith- upon the very existence of the Faith.
…the quarrel is between Church and anti-Church- the Church of God and anti-God- The Church of Christ and Anti-Christ.
The Modern Attack will not tolerate us. It will attempt to destroy us. Nor can we tolerate it. We must attempt to destroy it as being the fully equipped and ardent enemy of the Truth by which men live. The duel is to the death…
…the modern attack is a return to Paganism.”
Enter the neo-pagan ‘Goddess Cult’ the end result of Feminist Theology. Characteristics of the “Modern Attack”:
“…these follies are bred, not from a hunger for religion but from the same root that made the world materialist- from an inability to understand the prime truth that faith is at the root of knowledge, from thinking that no truth is appreciable save through direct experience…
…all the modern quasi-religious practices are agreed upon this- that revelation is to be denied”
The theology of Feminists and that of the “Goddess Cult” share the same characteristics of the Modern attack, as both are experience oriented and reject Divine Revelation. This is shown through their campaign for “gender inclusive language” and their wanting to “re-imagine” scripture because it was “written in a patriarchal context”. Feminist theology as part of the Modern Attack does this because:
“It is essentially atheist, even when the atheism is not overtly predicted. It regards man as sufficient to himself, prayer to mere self suggestion and- the fundamental point- God as no more than a figment of the imagination, an image of man’s self thrown by man on the universe; a phantasm and a no thing.”
Feminist Theology/the “Goddess Cult” claims we have God the Father because of cultural reasons- having a male dominated society lead to a masculine God- so seeking to respond in kind- cast a female divinity to reflect themselves. They truly have thrown their self image on the universe in the most literal sense: Goddess theology is pantheistic.
Pantheism is the rejection of God the Father replacing Him with God/dess the Mother. The works of Teillhard de Chardin taught that man evolved from the earth complete with a soul so the Earth, as Mother, gave birth to the human race. The “New Cosmology” was built upon these works. Under this model there is no transcendent God: no grace, no Satan, no original sin, and no need for redemption but over all: no need for Jesus Christ.
Hillary Belloc was right “…the quarrel is between Church and anti-Church- the Church of God and anti-God- The Church of Christ and Anti-Christ.”
Make no mistake- our schism is between Church and anti-Church. Between the Church of the One God who has Divinely Revealed Himself to us and the Church of anti-God/Goddess made in the image of the dissenters. Both sides will not tolerate the other.
We must accept that some “Catholics” hold fundamentally different beliefs from the Church and they are trying to supplant the Catholic Faith. In the words of St Paul: "Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:8). Many are preaching a gospel contrary to the Faith of the Apostles, many of them Church workers and religious.
Feminist Theology is incompatible with Catholicism. The Church teaches that where one person of the Trinity is present the other two are as well, and if you reject one person of the Trinity you reject the other two.
So when feminists cannot call God ‘Father’ - as they claim they it makes them feel excluded - how are they not rejecting God the Father?
When feminists state they find the Church “oppressive”, and that Holy Scripture is “biased” as it was “written in a patriarchal context” - how are they not rejecting the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and is the author of Holy Scripture?
When feminists state Jesus is “son of Sophia, prophet of Sophia” how are they not rejecting God the Son? Since they reject God as we know Him, how can they call them selves Catholic let alone Christian? The answer is many are not; they are of the neo-pagan “Goddess Cult” now.
We cannot continue in the erroneous school of thought stated in one Religious Education document “Remember that we belong to a diverse Church- there is room for everyone”.
The Church had no room for the Arians who denied the Divinity of Christ by saying the Son was not “One Being” with the Father. Nor did it have any room for the Semi-Arians who proposed the compromise of replacing the Orthodox homo-ousios (meaning “One Being”) with homo-i-ousios (“of like substance”), just adding one i, in Greek ‘iota’. But the Church proclaimed the true faith that Christ is “One Being” with the Father and doctrine would change “not one iota!” The Church has no room for error.
But sadly in the Church in New Zealand we have a culture of dissent in which error is held by many in Church employment especially those of Religious Education. The Bishops must take action because as Donna Steichen wrote in “Ungodly Rage”:
“Unless Church authorities take action, the subversion can continue without any need for separate establishments. If, however, feminists lose their official positions, they will lose access to the young and thus most of their destructive power.”
We have seen in regards to the Catholic Religious Education for schools in New Zealand that within the draft process, within the RE texts, curriculum support documents, goddess handouts in classrooms, RE teacher training and material on the Faith Central website dissenters have been trying to force their beliefs onto our Catholic school students. This truly is “their destructive power” considering around 9 out of 10 Catholic youth stop practicing the year they leave secondary school, the vast majority from Catholic schools. Those who do not share the Faith cannot pass it on; their beliefs are incompatible with that of the Church- and they know it.
We must be very realist: the Church is involved in a conflict, a revolution against Christ the King and the Infallible teachings of the Church. As with the Church’s teaching on the Trinity if you attack one, you attack the other two. As St Thomas Aquinas taught there is a trinity of Truth, Unity and Good in Catholic doctrine and when you attack one you attack the others. Dissenters attack the Truth and as such cause disunity. They attack the Unity of the Church by having an “us and them” situation between dissenters and “oppressive patriarchs” or “fundamentalists”. They attack the Good by denying it. This revolution is as Belloc put it “is a wholesale assault upon the fundamentals of the Faith”.
The Bishops must take action. It is clear many in their employment abuse their positions and spread dissent. Dissenters who claim to love the Church are confused; they reject the truths of the Church and as such will never accept it. This is the harsh truth of our situation: their good intentions do not matter - indeed the road to Hell is paved with them; their dissent is harming the Church. The Bishops must share the concerns of Rome such as the statement from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State:
"the church doesn't really worry about atheists, however devout, because they're out of her spiritual jurisdiction, so to speak. Much more worrisome are those inside the church who work to distort its faith and moral principles, or who oppose the pope and his design for renewal of the church."
I know the Bishops wish for a renewal of the Church like the Pope does but dissenters oppose this. They are not so concerned about the future of this Church but more their vision of a “New Church”, a “Church of the Future”. The irony is that dissent is a very grey movement - the bulk of which are 1960-70s social revolution throw backs. Take the Sisters of Mercy who offer occult practices and are a stronghold for feminism. The average age of a Mercy Sister is late 50s-60s. In 20 years time, where will they be?
The time for denial, compromise, half-measures, dialogue, diplomacy, distractions and pious hope is over: dissent in the Church in New Zealand must be ended by the Authority of the Bishops. Bishops must insist on Orthodoxy as when you do not do the fundamentals properly you are just asking for disaster. Bishops must be concerned more about the Catholic Faith rather the appeasement of the dissenter so they stay in the Church. If they threaten to leave the Church then let them; what Catholic would leave the Church because of an insistence on Catholicism?
And we must have an insistence on Catholicism. When the heads of five Orders of Nuns invite a dissident speaker to preach the pantheistic “New Cosmology”, nuns practicing the occult, Church workers going to a Goddess symposium (where one of the speakers is a nun who was involved in a Goddess worshipping scandal and believes that Jesus is “Son of Sophia”) etc it is clear some of our fellow “Catholics” have been blinded by the smoke of Satan. Pope Paul VI stated in a homily on the 29th of June 1972:
"Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation, have come to the fore”.
Dissent is born of such things and I cannot think of any thing more satanic as a neo-pagan occult practicing “Goddess Cult” being harboured in our ranks.
The Bishops must be realistic: the Religious Education system does not work, most of the religious orders of nuns reject Catholic teaching, many Church workers do not share the Church’s mission, and we are losing our youths in droves etc. The Bishops must take immediate action and clean up our Church offices.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, speaking of our very days and the crisis even then (1972) rising in the Church:
"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It's up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious."
The laity must take action and insist on that authentic Catholic Faith is taught throughout all the Church in New Zealand. We must make the crack down on dissent an issue and get Church offices cleaned up. Take the Religious Education system for example. It is all well and good to say that around 9 out of 10 Catholic youth stop practicing the year after they leave secondary school, from mainly Catholic schools, but these are your children, not faceless statistics.
The laity must ask for more accountability and more transparency from Church workers with reforms to take place to restore confidence in Church offices. Dissenters seek positions to instigate illegitimate reforms for example parish councils. The faithful must seek these positions, not for the sake of power, but to make sure that the authentic Catholic Faith is being proclaimed.
There are so many things the laity can do but the common theme is orthodoxy. As long as dissenters reject the truths of Catholic doctrine we cannot have a united Church. An insistence on Orthodoxy will not go down well with dissenters but we must witness to the Faith of the Apostles, that’s a duty of our faith. Overall the laity must be active, loyally working to bring about the Popes vision for the renewal of the Church.
This report has dealt with a number of issues, with neo-paganism “in the Church” being the main one. This neo-paganism, this “Goddess Cult”, is not some work of fiction. Pope John Paul II spoke against it and Pope Benedict XVI (when Head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) spoke out against it. The theological advisers for the Religious Education curriculum constantly identified elements of pagan belief such as pantheism. The main figure in a Goddess worshipping scandal in Australia has appeared in the Auckland Diocese and is speaking at Goddess events, etc. The neo-pagan movement has been happening for decades – it is happening worldwide and it is happening right here in New Zealand: it must be stopped.
Until we deal with this problem our efforts to fulfil the Church’s mission will be handicapped or sabotaged; our message obscured. Catholicism from the Deposit of the Faith to the Catechism is the Pillar of Truth, our Rock. Catholic belief is very clear as is what we know should not be in the Church: dissent is an attack on what we hold to be true and we should no longer stand for it.
The Last Point
I wrote this report as I love the Catholic Church, as it is the One True Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ to lead people to Him. I am in constant awe of its teachings and agree with St Thomas Aquinas that the characteristics of Catholic doctrine are Truth, Unity, Good and Beauty. Catholicism taught me what love really is. It taught me I am not just called to be a husband, one day, but that I, indeed us all, are called to be saints; we are called to holiness. But greatest of all the Catholic Church brings me face to face with Christ Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist.
I wrote this report as I know how destructive dissent can be; I have been burned badly by it in the past. But when I found out about the “Goddess Cult” and what dissenters were doing to the Church in New Zealand - it just got to me. I have been in Catholic schools and have stood in front of students who have had 13 years of Catholic religious education and they did not know the first thing about Catholicism. It haunts me to think of what will become of these youths. I have read the hateful works of the biggest names in dissent that attack the Church and are invited here to spread their teachings. I have seen people who call themselves Catholics practicing the occult. The Anti-Christ is amongst us.
I wrote all my reports because I love the Catholic Church and will not sit idly by while it is attacked by those who know deep down they do not believe what the Church believes, and try to force their beliefs onto everybody else: the dishonesty of it. Give us the one thing faithful Catholics want: Jesus Christ.
St Michael the Archangel, Defender of the Church, Pray for Us
The following is a list of recommendations which I am offering up as food for thought as I would not dream of focusing on problems and not offering up possible solutions. These are my own personal thoughts, I did not collaborate with any group or individual i.e. no one put me up to selling any agendas. My only agenda is to seek reform to get us out of this current crisis:
I believe in light of the matters raised in this report, for example:
- Groups containing a large amount of Church workers/religious linked to international dissent groups
- The occultic practices of the Sisters of Mercy
- Apostasy/neo-paganism etc.
There needs to be an inquiry established to look into these concerns. I believe the best person to head such an inquiry is Bishop Barry Jones of the Christchurch Diocese as he was only ordained a Bishop last year and as such would be the most impartial Bishop for such a job. Such an inquiry should be open for submissions from all areas of the Church as many of the faithful have concerns.
The rights of the laity
Perhaps the most important recommendation, after an inquiry, is the need to establish an independent national centre to advocate for the rights of the laity. Just as we have rights guaranteed by the state, so to do we have rights guaranteed by the Church including the right to know the truth about God and His Church, the right to the spiritual goods of the Church and the right to worship according to the norms established by lawful authority. Many rights which we are entitled to under Cannon Law are being denied by those seeking ‘revolution’ in the Church. For example the right to know the truth about God and His Church is being denied to Catholic students.
Such centres exist overseas, usually staffed by at least one Cannon Lawyer so the centre is able to take up cases of ordinary Catholics involving Cannon Law and take it through the proper Church channels including the Diocesan Cannon courts if needed. Examples of such centres are the St Joseph Foundation in Texas and the Australian Catholic Advocacy Centre. The Australian Catholic Advocacy Centre was responsible for the ending of the illicit and habitual abuse of the Third Rite of Absolution in direct contradiction of Church instruction.
The laity need to have official recourse for offences against their rights as t0o often there is no satisfaction for those who lay complaints, they are rather politely given lip service or a blind eye is turned. Not respecting the rights of the laity is as good as taking them away.
We should always endeavour to be in full union with Rome, but sadly a lot of national and Diocesan Church agencies have a culture of dissenting against the Church and its leadership in Rome. In my opinion all Diocesan and National Church agencies should be restructured with every Church worker having to reapply for their roles. All staff that are rehired or new staff hired should be required to sign a statement of Orthodoxy as part of their employment agreement, with no exceptions. This was done by Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, Oregon who declared that all those in his diocese serving in official capacities should formally declare their adherence to specific Church teachings:
And in the words of St Paul: "Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:8).
He explains in his covering letter that as it is his "responsibility before God to be a shepherd and a teacher “he must ensure that those entrusted with important church tasks are worthy of their roles: 'A failure on my part to verify a person's suitability for ministry would be judged as seriously negligent'”.
Such as statement of Orthodoxy would mean any one who activity engages in dissent would be dismissed from any Church role they occupy. I agree with Bishop Vasa that it is “seriously negligent” to keep dissidents in Church positions.
Two notable areas in need of this restructuring are:
Catholic Tertiary Institutes
Many of our Theological institutes such as the Catholic Institute of Theology and the Wellington Catholic Education Office, as only two examples, are, in my opinion, highly dissenting and give bad formation in the Catholic Faith. It is very expensive to run these institutes and we do not pay them for teaching against the Catholic Faith. These Institutes should be re-staffed with faithful theologians, who have signed a statement of Orthodoxy, or be shut down. It is scandalous that employees of New Zealand’s theological schools have publicly rebelled against the Church and yet are allowed to continue in their Church-given positions.
As I am being so bold, I will put forward that perhaps these centres should be shut down and their resources, not staff, merged into the Good Shepherd College to form a foundation for New Zealand’s first Catholic University. A deal/s could be done with one or more Orthodox Catholic universities throughout the world, such as Steubenville University. A New Zealand Catholic University would ideally attract foreign students especially from any of the Universities it deals with. If theological schools around the country are merged the Catholic University could have a presence nationally. It should seek cross accreditation with established secular Universities such as Auckland and Otago, so Catholic students can study at both.
Replacing the staff of existing or future tertiary institutes would entail hiring some theologians from overseas, which has its benefits. One is you can, in theory, recruit theologians from or having graduated from the best Catholic theological schools in the world, possibly including priests which could help with the priest shortage and be good for seminarian formation. It might help new religious orders with priests established in New Zealand. Of course only those faithful to the Church should be considered, otherwise it is an exercise in futility.
Catholic Schools and Religious Education
It is also not cheap to run New Zealand’s Catholic schools, both primary and secondary, although my main concern is with secondary schools of whose vast majority of graduates stop practicing the Faith within the first year of leaving. Three approaches should be taken:
1. There needs to be a new Religious Education curriculum drawn up.
The formation stages of the draft curriculum need to be transparent and open to wider consultation and critical analysis. A new curriculum needs to be based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which the current system is not (it was done before the CCC was released and although a revision has been done, it is still not based on the CCC).
The new curriculum needs to make sure that by the time every student leaves school, they know about core aspects of the Catholic Faith, including why the Catholic Church is the One True Church not just one amongst many. This includes covering themes such as the Catholic Church as the New Israel and as the Bride of Christ etc.
There should also be an Apologetic framework to the new curriculum to tackle themes such as anti-Catholic secular philosophies and areas of dissent within the Church. We need to make sure they understand issues like why women cannot be ordained priests so, especially to young women, it does not become an artificial barrier to the faith like I have seen teaching at an all-girls school. We must target problem areas or else we fail to be relevant.
As previously mentioned most schools have not purchased the new revised teacher books and text books as many schools claim it is too expensive. One school I was on placement at was short of some books so most students had to share one book between two. Basically the RE books we have now are expensive and are poor material to teach Catholicism from. The texts for the new curriculum could be designed as booklets that can be printed out on the computer and mass photocopied, so each student can have a booklet that they can take home and keep for future reference, a practice which is being done at one school in Auckland. Such booklets and other material could be used as an alternative, such as putting material on CDs for students to take home and put on their computer, as well as such material being available from a “cleaned up” Faith Central or other such website.
The advantages of this are many. Although it would cost to mass photocopy booklets a resource fee could be charged to cover the cost. If the material is available to take home, it is available for parents to review and scrutinise which will prevent non-Catholic material from sneaking in, and might help with the students family’s formation in the faith. If the text for the new curriculum is done as photo-copied booklets or on CDs then the material can be updated or changed each year as needed, meaning schools would not have to use outdated material - such as with the current text books material on Bio-ethics, a field that changes every year due to new issues.
2. We need a new breed of Religious Education teachers
I know many Religious Education teachers in New Zealand want to do a good job and help form the kids in the Faith - though there are noticeable dissenters, all RE teachers are not the bad guys nor are they incompetent. Although in all truth RE is seen by many teachers as a fill-in subject that is done on the side. Most of our few full-time Religious Education teachers are not trained in catechesis or theology. We need teachers that have a background in theology, catechesis and philosophy. You would not have a biology teacher who did not have a science degree, a maths teacher who did not have a maths background or a P.E. teacher who did not have a sports science background. So, why is the most important subject for a Catholic school assigned teachers who do not have a back ground in it? One cannot teach effectively from a position of ignorance.
At Teachers College I went through the Religious Education course taught by C.I.T., which was only one semester and so rushed it was regarded by everyone in the class as a joke. One of two lecturers who took the course did a 4 year degree overseas to teach Religious Education which is a good level to aim for. If we had a national Catholic University it could offer such a course, as well as a formation program as RE teachers need to be living the Faith to teach the Faith.
It will be a slow progress but we need to get RE teachers with a background in theology and catechesis. I do not mean to be disrespectful of principals of Catholic schools, but RE seems to be given the lowest priority, as shown by the poor funding RE departments get. Some Catholic schools are dangerously close to being State School with Catholicism being a matter of culture, not of faith. Catholic schools need to make RE their highest priority, and have full time RE teachers. It does seem that with some RE teachers being not Catholic, divorced and ‘remarried’, shacked up etc. perhaps it is an idea that the diocese, not the school, appoint RE teachers and complaints about RE teachers be directed towards the Diocese as well as the school itself.
Overall we need trained RE professionals who live the Faith to teach Catholicism to our young as they deserve the very best formation we can give them, since they are the future of the Church.
3. Catholic schools need to have a Catholic world view
Catholicism teaches on every aspect of human life, giving it the most comprehensive belief system and a distinct world view. This could be shown more in other subjects at Catholic schools, not turning them into defacto RE classes, but looking at the world through the eyes of Catholic belief, thought and culture.
For example, why not for the subject of English, students do a book review of St Theresa of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul”? English is a subject which deals with matters of emotion, beauty, imagery etc. which are abundant in the works of the Saints. This does not mean every movie and book needs to be a Catholic one, but some presence would be good. For history, a topic that looks at Church history would be more substantial than the Church History topic in the RE course. As the Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc taught - before the Reformation it was not “Western” Civilisation but “Catholic” Civilisation. A proper history study will show students the contribution the Church has made to the world.
Senior Social Studies is a brand new school subject which all Catholic schools should teach due to its great potential. Teachers design their own units/topics which must cover 5 achievement objectives set in the curriculum, as long as the designed topic meets the achievement objective criteria you can design anything you want. Topics could be designed for use in all Catholic schools to show a Catholic world view. Senior Social Studies would be good for looking at social issues such as abortion and the hidden issues surrounding it – for example, if in 1999 20% of all pregnancies ended in abortion, what does that mean for New Zealand? More immigration? How does abortion interplay with the Baby Boomers retiring? What about abortions connection with cancer? Once students look at the facts rather than at simply what society wants them to believe with no proof, students would appreciate more the Church’s teaching on Faith and Morals.
Also why cannot Catholic schools offer Catechism classes after school, just as sports teams and clubs meet after school?
Many other initiatives could be done for other subjects - the point is Catholic school students are not familiar with the Catholicism as a worldview. Perhaps if they were, more than one out of ten would still practice their faith after their first year of leaving Catholic schools, and appreciate the significance of Catholic teaching and how it is relevant and more enlightened than secular atheistic or “New Age” thought.
Dismissal of Dissenters
I believe it would be a mistake to allow dissenters to keep their positions. Though some might honestly profess to want the best for the Church, the error they proclaim will not lead the Church to a renewal, but to its destruction. They need to be removed and cannot be taken at their word – their hearts won’t change overnight. They have a revolutionary cause and the ends justify the means as far as they are concerned.
Let us consider the case of L’Abbe Alfred Loisy, a French priest who was one of the earliest Modernists. In December 1903, St Pope Pius X placed 5 of Loisy’s books on the Index of forbidden books for reasons such as they denied the Divinity of Christ. In early 1904, Loisy made an act of submission as penance but was in no way sincere as the entry from his personal journal from 10 May 1904 shows: “I remain in the Church for reasons which are not of faith but of moral expediency”.
He wrote to his Cardinal in January 1904 stating “I accept all dogmas of the Church”, which was a lie according to the entries of his private journal around this time:
“I have not been Catholic in the official sense of the word for a long time... Catholicism as such is destined to perish, and it will deserve no regrets.”
“Pius X, the head of the Catholic Church, would excommunicate me most decidedly if he knew that I hold… the virgin birth, and the resurrection to be purely moral symbols, and the entire Catholic system to be a tyranny which acts in the name of God and Christ against God himself and against the Gospel”
Loisy denies the Divinity of Christ, the resurrection and the virgin birth and yet still talks about “the Gospel”. Modernists deny Divine Revelation with Feminist Theology being an offshoot with much overlap of belief, leading to the Goddess Cult which sees God not as transcendent but a reflection of humanity.
Those who work in Church roles and have bought into beliefs of “Sophia”, Reiki massage, the “New Cosmology”, Modernism etc, will not just “come right” with an order or request. Under no circumstances should they remain in their current roles.
Just do not take my word for it, let’s look at the words of St Pope Pius X in his papal encyclical “On Modernism” (Pascendi):
“The Modernists express astonishment when they are reprimanded or punished. What is imputed to them as a fault they regard as a sacred duty. For them to speak and to write publicly is their bound duty. Let authority rebuke them as much as it pleases- they have their own consciences on their side and an intimate experience which tells them with certainty that what they deserve is not blame but praise.
They go their way, reprimands and condemnations not withstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility. While they make a show of bowing their heads, their hands and minds are more boldly intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to stimulated but not dethroned, and that it is necessary for them to remain in the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective consciences.”
We know certain Church workers are using their positions to be subversive so for the sake of the faithful they should be dismissed.
University Catholic Societies
As previously stated Catholic Societies at universities that used to have hundreds of members are now suffering or else have just died out. The restoration of Catholic Societies needs to be made a national Church priority as most young Catholics stop practicing a year after they leave secondary school, the year many have started at university. There needs to be a student maintained, driven and led presence on university campuses around New Zealand, for the purposes of formation and evangelisation.
Where possible, student centres need to be re-established with their prime function to serve the student community. Chaplains, preferably priests, of good Orthodoxy need to be appointed to support student communities, with that role being their prime one. Clear guidelines need to be established for the role of the chaplain to avoid past mistakes.
Basically part of what I recommend is in the Catholic Universities section in the Codes of Cannon Law:
Can 813: The diocesan Bishop is to be zealous in his pastoral care of (university) students, even by the creation of a special parish, or at least by appointing priests with a stable assignment to this care. In all universities, even in those that are not Catholic, the diocesan Bishop is to provide catholic university centres, to be of assistance to young people, especially in spiritual matters.
University ministry is vital to stop the trend of Catholic youth leaving the Church within the first year of leaving school, and is an area we can no longer neglect. Ideally it could get to the stage where there would be annual conference of Catholic university students, which used to attract hundreds of students right up to the late 1970s to early 1980s, is more than achievable again and greatly desirable.
An idea which would help rebuild or Catholic community is to establish a “Catholic Flat System”. Mainly aimed at young adults, the idea is to have Catholics who are flatting to live together and form small faith communities. There needs to be a project where Catholics who are searching for a flat can contact an agent to try and find a Catholic flat. This is done currently mainly through word of mouth, which is not that efficient, hence something like a website would be invaluable. It would be beneficial as Diocesan areas are rather large, and of course people moving between Dioceses may not know anyone locally, so that’s where something like a website would be useful.
Such flats would be good for matters of formation, community, prayer life, support networks, etc. Even if a Catholic flat is established with everyone a stranger, they will have the faith in common; unlike some Catholics who have had problems with their flatmates living lifestyles and holding beliefs that are at odds with the Catholic Faith. Catholic flats would provide healthy environments for the faith but will not happen without organisation.
Another idea is the establishment of a directory of Catholic owned businesses would be good for building up the Catholic community more. We need to support members of the community in their endeavours - and is it not preferable to fund a Catholic enterprise over any other? For example, the founder and owner of Dominos pizza is a Catholic - he has used the money he has made to establish a Catholic University and has donated millions to campaign against abortion. There are so many other benefits to such a scheme.
Through the hands of the Catholic Priest Christ is made present in the Eucharist, Christ’s mercy is given in Reconciliation, as well as many other works of God, as the Priest stands in Persona Christi. I am concerned for our priesthood - as with our current dissenters ‘revolution’ against the Hierarchical Church, it does not escape notice that our priests that are part of the hierarchy and are in some way being targeted. I find it disgusting that some people are proclaiming the ‘Vocations Crisis’ for the priesthood, a blessing in disguise as it undermines the value of a priest.
I cannot help but wonder how the morale of the priesthood suffers as a result of this rebellion. We need to show our priests, even the ones we do not see eye to eye with, that we appreciate all they do for us. Send them a thank you card, invite them around for dinner, buy them a movie pass, even something as simple as a kind word. Our priests are special and we need to acknowledge that. In New Zealand the lines between the laity and the clergy are being blurred in some misguided belief about what Vatican 2 called for, or the egalitarian nature of New Zealand culture, this takes away from the special nature of the priesthood. We are all the People of God but the Priesthood serve the laity by mediating between us and God, and yet we are not treating them with the respect they deserve.
Some members of the Church will just have to get over the fact that the Church is, has and will always be Hierarchical and the priesthood male. We need to treasure our priesthood more and not have time for those who dissent against it.
Also I do not understand why if we need priests why do we not pray for more vocations during the Mass, the highest form of prayer where Heaven meets earth were Christ is truly present? If every Catholic Church in New Zealand did this imagine the flowing of vocations.
If we want to get more vocations to the priesthood we need to get our seminaries sorted out. I have heard so many stories of young men going overseas to train for the diocesan priesthood as they would not want to go anywhere near the seminaries here. I have known many seminarians but none who actually ended up getting ordained. They all left citing various reasons, but dissent was a common theme. All the Diocesan seminaries around the world which do not know what to do with the multitude of vocations they get, have embraced Orthodoxy unapologetically and do not voice dissent for they love the Church. Seminaries need to be places of love for the Church, dissent does not show this. Seminaries need to be places of love for the authentic Catholic Faith.
Minor Seminaries are formation houses for boys, who are interested in discerning a vocation to the priesthood or receiving a good faith education and are often Catholic boarding schools. The Church recognises them as good tools to promote vocations as reflected in the Codes of Canon Law:
Can 234: Minor Seminaries and other institutions of a similar nature promote vocations by providing a special religious formation, allied to human and scientific education, where they exist, are to be retained and fostered. Indeed, where the diocesan Bishop considers it expedient, he is to provide for the establishment of a minor seminary or similar institution.
It might be a good start towards reforming Catholic secondary education if one Catholic school in each diocese, preferably a boarding school, is made a minor seminary. The Diocese or a non-boarding school can establish a hostel if a school that is not a boarding one is made a minor seminary. Minor Seminaries would be invaluable in youth retention as such an institution would be there primary for the boys discerning the priesthood but could run formation courses for other Catholic youth. Also as students of such institutions would be well formed, in theory, would be able to evangelise to their peers helping them with knowledge of the Catholic Faith. Minor Seminaries it seems were one of the reasons that the priesthood had many vocations pre-Vatican 2, and could be a long term solution to our current priest shortage.
Section One: a short list of must reads (in my opinion)
The Wanderer Goddess Cult articles
The Goddess Cult In Australia: Church in Australia Undergoes Rapid Transformation
The Goddess Cult In Australia: The Mercy Nuns and The New Religion
The Goddess Cult… Reflections On The Work Of Australia’s Top Liturgist
The Goddess Cult… Australian Liturgist Uses Art To Create New Church
Note: These articles no longer appear on the Wanderers website. If you want a copy of these articles please contact me and I will email them to you.
Book: Donna Steichen “Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism”
This link contains 4 articles on the neo-pagan movement “in” the Church including mention of Sister Miriam MacGillis, Genesis Farm and the Cosmic walk
Website “Our Ladies Warriors” check out section on Dissent to get more answers on neo-paganism and a general over view of dissent in the Church
Section Two: a short list for further reading
AD 2000 ARTICLES
New Zealand Section: a must read
Latest research on Catholic school leavers
Letter to Editor
On Teilhard de Chardin and Pantheism
Leading questions for New Zealand's Religious
This article highlights a decline in the faith life of Religious
New Zealand: 'transforming the Church from within'
Article of radical feminist nuns in Church structures
Vatican 2 and “the sign of the times” a call for a democratic Church
Looking at subversion of Church by “progressives”
New Age paganism's creeping influence within the Church
An article on the New Age and the Goddess Movement “in” the Church
Goddess worship at Victorian education conference?
A look at Goddess infiltration in Catholic school education
Commission for Australian Catholic Women: Executive members' feminist views
Features the Goddess and Sophia
Lenten program (letter)
On how Goddess Cult members try to introduce Sophia
US Dominican nun brings the 'New Cosmology' to New Zealand
On the visit of Sister Miriam MacGillis OP
“The Witchcraft feminist, The Archbishop and the Governor”.
From the Protestant Despatch magazine
Goddess Project, The: A Bevy of Very Busy Heretics
A good article for those wanting to know more about the “Sophia” thing with a good section under the title “Stop appeasing them already!”. Written by Donna Steichen author of “Ungodly Rage”
Building Goddess Paganism
The Unicorn in the Sanctuary: the impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church
Philip G Davis:
Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality
A GENERATION BETRAYED: Deconstructing Catholic Education in the English-Speaking World
The AD 2000 article on the book
For people who wonder what action they can take here is a few starters:
- Go to Mass as often as you can and offer the Mass up for the Church in New Zealand for purposes such as the end of dissent and the end to the priest shortage.
- Seek right relations with God: regularly go to Reconciliation and confess sins. Practice fasting and penance.
- Engage in various devotions of the Church such as Adoration, the rosary as well as many others: there is some thing for every one.
- Support and give generously to groups such as St Vincent de Paul, Catholics need to support other Catholics. (If you have St Vincent de Paul collections every Sunday in your parish get into the habit of taking a can of food each week).
- Get in the habit of continuous formation; seek to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church every day for example. Also get a spiritual director as no one can form them selves. If you have a patron Saint learn about them and their path to holiness to help with you own path.
There are many active things you can do, like write your Bishops, but before you take action, take time to pray.
Please pray for the Church in New Zealand
Please pray for Church Unity
Please pray for the intentions of the Pope
Please pray for Vocations
Please pray for the health and conversion of my parents
Please pray for my future wife
Simon Dennerly may be contacted at this email address [email protected].
This item 7620 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org