Paul Joseph Jean Cardinal Poupard Paul Joseph Jean Cardinal Poupard
President of Culture, Roman Curia
Cardinal Priest of S Prassede
Aug 30, 1930
May 25, 1985
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English New Chair: Non-conventional Spiritualities
Jun 15, 2006
Cardinal Poupard Outlines New-Age Challenges

ROME, JUNE 9, 2006 ( Intelligence and wisdom are needed to counteract relativism, esotericism and agnosticism, says Cardinal Poupard.

The president of the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue made that observation in his address at the inauguration of the Chair of Religions and Non-conventional Spiritualities, instituted at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum.

The chair and its corresponding course of studies is the result of a joint initiative by the Socioreligious Research and Information Group and the Angelicum.

Cardinal Poupard said that "non-conventional religions and spiritualities, phenomena known as New Age, esotericism, magic, occultism, Satanism and communication with the great beyond appear as forms of gnosis."

These "combine spiritual intuitions and methods taken eclectically from traditional religions and esoteric practices, with scientific or pseudo-scientific methods of healing and the pursuit of physical and mental well-being," he said.

According to the French cardinal, their success can be explained "because they find fertile ground in the diffusion of relativism and of indifference to the Christian faith to which are joined the inextinguishable aspirations of the human spirit to transcendence and the religious sense, constant characteristic of the history of man."

"When knowledge of the content of the Christian faith is weak, sects develop thanks to their alleged answers to the needs of people in search of healing, offspring, financial success," the cardinal said. "The same argument applies to esoteric religions, whose success is affirmed given the frailty and ingenuousness of Christians who are little or poorly formed."

Cardinal Poupard said this "spiritual and cultural scenario" is a "challenge to the Church and ecclesial and academic institutions."

New territory

The cardinal continued: "The main challenge is a new inculturation of the faith in heretofore unexplored environments, which will go beyond simple apologetics. My conclusion is, obviously, an invitation to a new Pastoral Program of Culture.

"A university is not a parish; that is why an appropriate cultural and spiritual formation is important, through the organization of seminars and working groups, centers of dialogue and interdisciplinary colloquia."

Essential is "faith in Christ, which involves at once man's intelligence and heart, thought and life, in the effective encounter with Christ," the Vatican official added.

"In sum," he said, "from catechesis to homilies, from the highest magisterium of the Church to pastoral care, from the academic lesson to the simplest testimony of faith, the end that moves us is one, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI repeats to us so often: To have the courage to fight against relativism, allowing oneself to be driven to and fro, by every doctrinal wind, suggested to us by the prevailing culture as the only attitude to be abreast of the times."

Cardinal Poupard added: "To cultivate a clear faith, according to the Creed of the Church, is not fundamentalism but intelligence and also wisdom, so as not to yield to the dictatorship of relativism, which recognizes nothing as definitive, and which leaves the 'I' and its desires as the ultimate measure.

"Relativism, esotericism and … agnosticism are the most deceitful 'enemies' of truth and goodness."
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