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Fire Alarms in the Night

As many of you know, the NEW OXFORD REVIEW converted from Anglo-Catholicism to (Roman) Catholicism in 1983. When we were in the Anglo-Catholic camp, we found that most Anglo-Catholics were Bible-believers and upholders of Catholic tradition (broadly conceived). Nonetheless, we were aware of an undercurrent of weirdness in the Anglo-Catholic milieu. There were Anglo-Catholics who were fans of Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, and the wilder speculations of Teilhard de Chardin, who dabbled in séances, who thought reincarnation and astrology could be reconciled with orthodox Christianity — the kind of stuff that would later be known as “New Age.” Moreover, there were actively and shamelessly homosexual priests whose great interest, besides their night life, was beautiful — nay, gorgeous — liturgy (as the quip had it, they liked to be called Father and dress up like Mother). And on the periphery there were small conventicles, deriving their Holy Orders from various Old Catholic sources, who claimed to be on the same wavelength as Anglo-Catholicism, and who, in too many cases, were into homosexuality and various forms of Gnosticism.

Having got a whiff of all that, we developed a powerful allergy to it.

Now, as (Roman) Catholics, we’re still getting whiffs — and more — of all that. Actively homosexual priests are a significant problem, almost a crushing problem in certain places. And New Age spirituality has made deep inroads into such venues as Catholic schools, catechetical material, and retreat centers — especially retreat centers.

You will understand, therefore, why we read a recent article proposing a kind of Catholic-New Age dialogue with great skepticism. It is by Stratford Caldecott, who has a reputation for being an orthodox Catholic, and it appeared in The Chesterton Review (Nov. 2001), having been based on a paper he delivered at Marquette University in February 2001.

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