Vatican Weighs In on New Age Movement
Ninety-page booklet urges caution; addresses channeling, crystals, reincarnation, and more.
BY: Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Vatican City, Feb. 3--The Vatican weighed in Monday on feng shui, crystals and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in a new document (
) designed to address whether you can still be a good Christian while taking yoga class.
"A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age'" doesn't give many absolute answers. But while saying some positive things about the New Age movement, it warns that New Agers' quest for spirituality and inner peace can't take the place of true Christian religion. And it highlights some core differences between New Age and Christian thought, particularly regarding the concepts of God, Jesus and sin.
While New Agers are waiting for an era when they are "totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature ... Christians are in a constant state of vigilance, ready for the last days when Christ will come again; their New Age began 2,000 years ago, with Christ," the document said.
The Vatican said the preliminary document was the result of requests by bishops for guidance on determining whether practices embraced by New Agers, including yoga, meditation and healing by crystals, were compatible with Christianity.
The 90-page booklet, which includes a glossary defining terms like "channeling," "karma," and "reincarnation," urges caution.
Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told a news conference many aspects of the New Age movement were viewed positively by the church, such as the importance it places on protecting the environment. "But if one is brought to this by ascribing 'divineness' to the land, that's another thing," he said. "Music that relaxes you is good. But if this music empties prayer and prayer turns into just listening to music and falling asleep, it's no longer prayer."
The document, which was six years in the making, traces the history of the New Age phenomenon and notes the importance of the 1969 Woodstock festival and the musicial "Hair."