Thursday, December 9, 2010

The New Polytheism and its Tempter Idols

Benedict XVI sounds the alarm. Forgetfulness of the one God clears the way for a world dominated by a plurality of new gods with seductive faces. A voyage among the devotees of modern paganism

by Sandro Magister

ROME, December 9, 2010 – "Polytheism": this word echoed like thunder, last October, in a speech by Benedict XVI at the synod of the bishops of the Middle East, the very birthplace of the one God made man, Jesus, and of the most powerful forms of monotheism in history, Judaism and Islam.

"Credo in unum Deum" is the mighty chord that gives rise to Christian doctrine. But for Joseph Ratzinger, pope theologian, polytheism is anything but dead. It is the perennial challenge that still rises up today against faith in the one God.

"Let us remember all the great powers of the history of today," the pope continued at the synod. Anonymous capital, terrorist violence, drugs, the tyranny of public opinion are the modern divinities that enslave man. They must fall. They must be made to fall. The downfall of the gods is the imperative of yesterday, today, and always for believers in the one true God.

But today's polytheism is not made up only of dark powers. Its many gods also have friendly faces, and the ability to seduce.

It is the "gay science" prophesied by Nietzsche more than a century ago, which offers every single man "the greatest advantage": that of "setting up his own ideal and deriving from it his law, his joys, and his rights"...Of course, the current revival of polytheism is not bringing the cults of Jupiter and Juno, Venus and Mars, back into vogue. But the philosophy of the learned pagans of the Roman empire is again blossoming intact in the reasoning of many modern proponents of "weak thought." And not only of these. Those who today reread, sixteen centuries later, the dispute between the monotheist Ambrose, the holy patron of Milan, and the polytheist Symmachus, a senator of pagan Rome, are strongly tempted to agree with the latter, when he says: "What does it matter by what path each one seeks, according to his own judgment, the truth? It is not by one road alone that one may reach such a great mystery."

Misunderstood, ill-advisedThe magnanimous equality among all religions and gods that these words seem to inspire also enchants many Christians. The "spirit of Assisi" born from the multi-religious gathering held in 1986 has so infected common opinion that in 2000 the Church of John Paul II and of then cardinal Ratzinger felt the duty to remind Catholics that there is only one savior of humanity, and it is the God made man in Jesus: a truth on which the entire New Testament stands or falls, a truth that over two millennia the Church had never felt the need to reiterate with an "ad hoc" pronouncement. And yet, that declaration of 2000, "Dominus Iesus (1)," was greeted with a firestorm of protests, inside the Church and outside, because of its exclusion of a plurality of paths of salvation all sufficient in themselves and full of grace and truth...The current idea is that the various religions are in their way all an expression of a 'divine.' And nonetheless this supreme divinity, as the pagan Symmachus explained to Ambrose, is unknowable and far away, too far away to impassion men and take care of them. ...Read on

--->The Apocalypse
of Benedict XVI...

(1) The Assisi meetings for peace (with de facto heads of other religions or denominations) needs I think also to be seen in the context of geopolitical tensions in a nuclear world and then the first Gulf War (which war, begun by Bush the elder, the Vatican opposed and which threatened a potential wider confrontation between the West and Islam and possibly WWIII). It is helpful to remember that the Lord Jesus was implicitly and falsely accused of syncretism by the Temple for finding God's presence in pagan Roman soldiers [some of whose implicit faith exceeded his accusers] and heretical Samaritans, to say nothing in later times of the testimony about the Magi at the Nativity Crib, etc., who were following grace as best they could. The question remains, were these two meetings worth it in light of understandable misunderstandings from many sides including within the Church? I think not. I think it was ill-advised. [This post updated 2x]

--->Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, 1863 #7

"Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments."

Romans 2:14-16: "...when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them"

Seeds of Truth: "And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] when they assert contradictories."----St. Justin Martyr, First Apologia

--->Cardinal Ratzinger (today Benedict XVI) on Eastern Religions, the New Age, and Jesus Christ...

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