Interview With Father Paolo Scarafoni of the Academy of
ROME, 2 MARCH 2004 (ZENIT).
A yearning for spirituality and a good dose
of distress can even lead Catholics to the New Age, says a member of the
Pontifical Academy of Theology.
The Church can counter that phenomenon, says Legionary Father Paolo
Scarafoni, by proclaiming Jesus Christ "living and risen," "whose person
has greater fascination than any other" and who fills life with meaning.
Father Scarafoni, who is also rector of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical
Athenaeum, was one of the speakers at last Friday's worldwide
videoconference on "The Church, New Age and Sects," organized by the
Congregation for Clergy (www.clerus.org).
"New Age does not consider original sin and tends not to consider man's
sin and, therefore, not to make man responsible for his actions," Father
Scarafoni explains in this interview with ZENIT. "New Age is nourished by
Jung's psychology, whose approach is clearly anti-Christian."
Despite its name, New Age ideas "derive from ancient religions and
cultures. What is genuinely new is the conscious search for an alternative
to Western culture and its Judeo-Christian roots," the priest says,
referring to the document of the
pontifical councils for culture and for interreligious dialogue: "Jesus
Christ, Bearer of Living Water: A Christian Reflection on the New Age."
Q: How can the success of New Age be explained, even among Christians and
Father Scarafoni: It depends at least on three elements: an essential
element in human nature
yearning for spirituality and prayer; an existential element
desire to be rid of the distress that many experience in present-day
Western society, which does not guarantee stability or a future; and a
psychological element, that is, the proposal of a spirituality that
springs from the encounter between esoteric culture and psychology to
verify the transformation and peace obtained through techniques.
Q: How does New Age propose peace to escape from the division and distress
of Western culture?
Father Scarafoni: In several ways
far from the Christian experience. The fad of trips to India; the search
for mystical experiences; the experience of drugs that produce states of
consciousness that enable one to perceive the unity of reality; "sexual
mysticism," which would allow for profoundly loving relations only after
full liberation from sexual taboos; recourse to esoteric traditions
Gnosticism, alchemy, astrology, magic, spiritism, witchcraft, religions
oriented to mystery; Satanism and occult sciences. Crystal-therapy is very
Some New Age books argue that crystals have a hidden intelligence capable
of influencing our lives, and they teach how to enter into contact with
their supposed power.
Q: Followers of New Age often talk about the angels.
Father Scarafoni: There is a genuine fixation with angels, which the
followers of Aquarius see everywhere.
But their angels have nothing in common with those of Christians. They
have strange names and powers similar to those of talismans and amulets.
To them are added many other popular figures of the New Age, such as
"guiding spirits" and varied "entities."
Q: Peace and happiness are the feelings New Age proposes.
Father Scarafoni: It's true, but they are aspirations whose way of
fulfillment goes against the Catholic Church.
The conclusions shared by these and other ways of searching for peace and
happiness are: the need to abolish truths and dogmas that break and divide
the vision of reality, and refuge in intuition and in the irrational
mysterious; the need to suppress churches or forms of stable organization
of religions, especially the hierarchy of the Catholic Church; the search
for a new mysticism accessible to all.
Q: Of what does the new mysticism consist, which they propose?
Father Scarafoni: The new mysticism, also practiced by many Catholics, is
nourished by the most varied traditions of prayer, especially Eastern.
It rejects the vision of a transcendent God, separated and far from us. It
provides for inner purification, signs and wonders, a phase of interior
emptiness and, finally the attainment of an encounter with "oneself," the
real self, which is one with God, with the universe, and with all that
Q: How does the Church plan to address the challenge posed by this
Father Scarafoni: The pastoral principles to address the New Age
phenomenon are: the confident presentation of the relation between faith
and reason; the school of Christian prayer and of active participation in
the sacraments, appealing also to the great tradition of the Christian
heritage; the proclamation of Jesus Christ, living and risen and at
present in communication with us, whose person has a fascination that is
greater than any other and whose presence fills with meaning the life of
every man; the view of the world as creation that is loved by God,
Creator, and that is led to fulfillment by him.