Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Convert or coerce?

Because many Episcopal Conferences throughout the Church had expressed a growing concern over the activity of sects, new religious movements and cults, the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity prepared a report entitled Sects or New Religious Movements: A Pastoral Challenge which was issued in the name of several departments of the Holy See and released on May 3, 1986.

The Departments represented were the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, the Secretariat for Non-Christians, the Secretariat for Non-Believers, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Secretariat of State.

Question one of the report stated that, "For practical reasons, a cult or sect is sometimes defined as ‘any religious group with a distinctive worldview of its own derived from, but not identical with, the teachings of a major world religion. As we are speaking here of special groups which usually pose a threat to people’s freedom and to society in general, cults and sects have also been characterized as possessing a number of distinctive features. These often are that they [groups] are often authoritarian in structure, that they exercise forms of brainwashing and mind control, that they cultivate group pressure and instill feelings of guilt and fear, etc. The basic work on these characteristic marks was published by an American, Dave Breese, Know the Marks of Cults (Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1985)."

While cults engage in coercion and various forms of manipulation to win and maintain adherents, the Catholic Church, by way of contrast, teaches that:

"..the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power, so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person, as known by the revealed word of God, and by reason itself" (Declaration on Religious Liberty - Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2 of the Second Vatican Council).

And again:

"It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons - that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once they come to know it and to direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth. But, men cannot satisfy this obligation in a way that is in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy both psychological freedom and immunity from external coercion....The search for truth, however, must be carried out in a manner that is appropriate to the dignity of the human person and his social nature, namely, by free inquiry with the help of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue. It is by these means that men share with each other the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in such a way that they help one another in the search for truth. Moreover, it is by personal assent that men must adhere to the truth they have discovered" (Dignitatis Humanae, Nos. 2, 3).

Does the Saint Benedict Center accept this teaching of the Second Vatican Council? According to "Brother" Andre Marie, it does. He writes, "Whenever, in the history of the Church, there were those who incorrectly sought to force conversions, the pope or the bishops generally were there to issue a reprimand. That’s not the Catholic way and it’s not our way.." (Our Desire to Convert America, http://www.sbcrichmond.blogspot.com/)

If this be true, how then does one explain the grave concerns of so many residents of Richmond, New Hampshire that the Saint Benedict Center is attempting to take over the town? And how does one explain this portion of a letter to the Editor of The Keene Sentinel which was crafted by an individual who is deeply involved in the spiritual exercises and activities of the Saint Benedict Center:

To: The Sentinel:"...I will apply the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church without reserve or apology. I will foster the tenets of the social reign of Christ the King in all aspects of society, including cleaning out the public schools of this state and of the nation of all liberal, atheistic and morally corrupt teachers and administrators and bringing God and common sense back into the curriculum... And, unlike President Kennedy, I will not cower before Protestants, Jews, and atheists....Homosexuals who publicly display their alternative lifestyle will be immediately arrested and thrown in jail..." (Mr. Eugene De Lalla, Reader Opinion, October 18, 2006).

Is the Saint Benedict Center really interested in "free inquiry, communication and dialogue"? If so, why does a prominent member of the cult wish to "clean out" the public schools of any teacher or administrator whom he deems to be "liberal," "atheistic," or "morally corrupt"? Doesn’t this statement represent a desire to engage in coercion?



Susan said...

"Brother" Andre also wrote this in the same article: "Even when it comes to dealing with outright, self-professed enemies of the Church, the Catholic way is to live in peace with them as much as possible."

Yes, that's the "Catholic way." But it is not the SBC cult way. The SBC cult routnely attacks even those who are self-professed Catholics and who oppose the cult by referring to them by various epithets such as "anti-Catholics," "pagan," "zoophiles," and "local belligerents" to name but a few.

Yes, the Catholic way is to strive to live in peace with others. But this is not the SBC cult way. Hence the endless controversies, lawsuits and hate-filled rhetoric of the cult.

Carrie said...

I wonder what Mr. DeLalla thinks when he sees his inciteful words in print for all to see. I wonder if his family feels pride for him or shame for themselves.

Jonathan said...

What does Mr. De Lalla mean when he says that he wants to "clean out" those public school teachers and administrators? The Nazis also sought to "clean out" Jewish professors from teaching positions as well as those who didn't accept thei view of the world.

And so these unfortunate educators were either dispatched to death camps or they were shot in the back of the head.

Is this what Mr. De Lalla has in mind? Is this why the SBC trains in the use of firearms and hand-to-hand combat?

Amanda said...

I think this man's letter is absolutely bone-chilling. He comes across as emotionally unstable and potentially violent. Thank you for your article.

Anonymous said...

What does Mr. DeLalla care about the public school system? His son attends the illegal school at the SBC so we can all be assured of the narrow-minded teaching that goes on there. It simply boggles the mind to try to picture any one of these people making the sign of the cross. That, in itself, is blasphemy!

Sander said...

Melanson you Jew-loving ass, we will find where you live and you will know the hour of defeat. All the mud people won't be able to save you.

Anonymous said...

The posting by "Sander" is horrible. I just learned of it and had to see it for myself.
In a posting on the sbcwatch blog, "Sander" wrote the following, "I think this website is a terrorist website. The mud people are under surveillance."
Can anything be done about this???

Sander said...


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