Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Worcester [Massachusetts] Diocesan Commission for Women: Promoting the New Age?

The Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, at its official website which may be found here, has the following statement of purpose: "The Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester is an advisory group for the Bishop of Worcester, focusing on issues affecting women in the Church and in society." This is really troubling. For this Commission, which serves the Bishop of Worcester in an advisory capacity, has had Sister Joyce Rupp as a guest speaker at its 2007 "Gather Us In" conference. Additionally, the Commission for Women website has a "favorite links" section which includes a link to Joyce Rupp's website.

In a previous post which may be found here, I noted how Sister Joyce Rupp, a self-proclaimed spiritual midwife who feels that she resonates with mystical islamic sufism, has extolled New-Ageism as valuable and claims to have stretched herself "beyond the safe world of heterosexuality" while attending a "gathering of lesbians." In an interview with US Catholic (April 2000), Sister Joyce Rupp said that, "In many ways, New Age has become the new enemy. That's unfortunate because some things about New Age are valuable...I think some Church people are envious about New Age, because it does draw people toward spiritual growth."

But while Joyce Rupp is extolling the New Age and learning from Eagle Crux, a Native American spiritualist, Pope Benedict XVI has warned that, "There is..a consciously antirationalist response to the experience that 'everything is relative,' a complex reality that is lumped together under the title of New Age. The way out of the dilemma of relativism is now sought, not in a new encounter of the 'I' with the 'Thou' or the 'We,' but in overcoming subjective consciousness, in a re-entry into the dance of the cosmos through ecstasy. As in the case of Gnosis in the ancient world, this way believes itself to be fully in tune with all the teachings and the claims of science, making use of scientific knowledge of every kind (biology, psychology, sociology, physics). At the same time, however, it offers against this background a a completely antirationalist pattern of religion, a modern 'mysticism': the absolute is, not something to be believed in, but something to be experienced. God is not a person distinct from the world; rather, he is the spiritual energy that is at work throughout the universe. Religion means bringing my self into tune with the cosmic whole, the transcending of all divisions...Objectifying reason, New Age thinking tells us, closes our way to the mystery of reality; existing as the self shuts us out from the fullness of cosmic reality; it destroys the harmony of the whole and is the real reason for our being unredeemed. Redemption lies in breaking down the limits of the self, in plunging into the fullness of life and all that is living, in going back home to the universe....The gods are returning. They have become more credible than God. Aboriginal rites must be renewed in which the self is initiated into the mysteries of the universe and freed from its own self. There are many reasons for the renewal of pre-Christian religions and cults that is being widely undertaken today. If there is no truth shared by everyone, a truth that is valid simply because it is true, then Christianity is merely a foreign import, a form of spiritual imperialism, which needs to be shaken off just as much as political imperialism. If what takes place in the sacraments is not the encounter with the one living God of all men, then they are empty rituals that mean nothing and give us nothing and, at best, allow us to sense the numinous element that is actively present in all religions. It then seems to make better sense to seek after what was originally our own than to permit alien and antiquated things to be imposed on us. But above all, if the 'rational intoxication' of the Christian mystery cannot make us intoxicated with God, then we just have to conjure up the real, concrete intoxication of effective ecstasies, the passionate power of which catches us up and turns us, at least for a moment, into gods..." (Truth and Tolerance, pp. 126-128).


Matlee said...

It appears that the Commission for Women is lapsing into paganism. I'm also concerned that this organization serves in an advisory capacity to the Bishop. What exactly is their influence and how are they using it?

Alzina said...

Is it also a goal of this Diocesan Commission to encourage other women to move "beyond the safe world of heterosexuality"? Why would a Church-sanctioned Commission invite a New Age advocate who celebrates moving beyond heterosexuality to its annual conference? And Bishop Robert McManus approves of this? Is the Bishop really behind this?

Ellen Wironken said...

Donna Steichen on morphing Catholicism into New Age "eco-feminism":

Ann Duclos said...

Much of the radical feminist/New Age movement is lesbian and seeks to move "beyond the patriarchal family." In Eco-Feminism, some eco-feminists attempt to make a linguistic link between oppression of women (at the hands of an "oppressive patriarchal society") and oppression of the land with such terms as "rape the land" and "reap nature's bounty." Wikipedia makes this point in its entry on Eco-feminism.

Anonymous said...

The New Age connections of the Worcester Diocesan Commission for Women will be evident at its next "Gather Us In" conference, scheduled for the Worcester DCU Center on November 7, 2009, where Paula D’Arcy will be one of the keynote speakers. She is founder and president of the Red Bird Foundation, whose website ( describes her as:

A former psychotherapist who ministered to those facing issues of grief and loss, Paula worked with the Peale Foundation, founded by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, from 1980 until his death in 1993. Today her work includes leading workshops and retreats related to spirituality, aspiring writers, and women’s gatherings, including Women’s Initiation and Rites of Passage. In recent years she has teamed with [the Rev.] Richard Rohr [O.F.M.] to present seminars on the Male/Female Journey and Spirituality in the Two Halves of Life.

Fr. Rohr’s New Age spirituality and other lunacies are well known. According to Concerned Roman Catholics of America (, at a March 1997 symposium sponsored by the pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry, he described his all-male retreats, in which men remove clothing and touch each other in “wounded areas,” as he calls them. Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico once reprimanded him for presiding at a lesbian “wedding.” Also, Fr. Rohr advises Catholics to use the New Age/occult Enneagram.

The description of his audio CD “The Maternal Face of God” reads: Rohr attends to developments in feminine consciousness to consider images of God and their evolution in our own understanding of the Divine, who is beyond gender. He considers aspects of God that can transform the spiritual understanding of both women and men.

For more information about him, see the Richard Rohr Dossier at Los Pequenos de Cristo website (

Susan said...

The Diocesan Commission for Women doesn't speak for me. I resent the fact that this group tries to pass itself off as an "advisory group" which focuses on "issues affecting women in the Church." I have no desire to engage in lesbianism or to embrace a Neo-Gnostic spirituality. This group is a farce.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thank you all for your comments. Clearly, there is much concern out there over what is happening within the Worcester Diocese and the direction in which the Commission for Women is heading. Anonymous, I wasn't aware of Paula D'Arcy's connections. Thanks for that valuable information. I agree with the Catholic writer who once said, "I find Peale Appalling and Paul appealing."

Michael Cole said...

From New Oxford Review:


On Retreat With Sister Rupp

June 2008
By Ginger Hutton

Ginger Hutton, a convert to Catholicism, is a freelance writer whose column "Obsessions" appears in The East Tennessee Catholic, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Knoxville.

"Before lunch at my retreat with Sister Joyce Rupp, I automatically lifted my hand to my forehead to make the sign of the cross. That's when I realized that in this retreat for Catholics in a Catholic parish, led by a Catholic sister, the sign of the cross had never been made. Not once. Over the course of seven hours, it never was. Although I had come to the retreat with serious concerns about Sr. Rupp's spiritual philosophy, I was still shocked by such a blatant omission. As it turns out, I really shouldn't have been surprised.

Servite Sister Joyce Rupp is a popular author and retreat director who receives over 400 requests for retreats annually. The 20 retreats she grants each year are almost always given for capacity crowds of several hundred. She holds a masters degree in religious education from St. Thomas University in Houston, and has worked in catechetics and education for most of her life. On the basis of these credentials, she is a regular speaker at some of the largest and most influential catechetical conferences in the country, including the National Catholic Education Association and Roger Cardinal Mahony's massive Archdiocesan Cate­chetical Congress in Los Angeles.

However, Sr. Rupp has some far more disturbing credentials. Her second masters degree is in trans­personal psychology from the notorious Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California. To understand the problems with the December 2007 retreat I attended, it is necessary to know a bit about transpersonal psychology. This is the branch of psychology that the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue identified as "the classic approach in New Age" (Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life, # It is a just assessment. The course offerings in the Institute's catalog are a snapshot of New Age syncretism, with classes in shamanism, the goddess, Jungian psychology, ESP, and Eastern spirituality. Underlying this is a profoundly Gnostic and relativist concept of the world in which God is sought almost exclusively within the individual and his experience of personal transformation and growth in "wisdom" through contact with "the Higher Self." This higher self -- which is called by many different names, including simply "soul" -- is good in its essence, has no need of salvation, and is inseparable in any real way from the divine. It is by discovering the higher self that one discovers inner wisdom. This alleged wisdom amounts to the revelation that there is no real difference between you and God; you have all that you need to know within you, and need merely to remember or rediscover it."

Why isn't Bishop McManus concerned about this? Does he even know about Joyce Rupp? Does he care?

Margaret said...

I think the best thing that concerned Catholics can do is to withhold monetary support to the Diocese of Worcester until such time as the nonsense stops. That seems to be the only thing some people understand.

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