Saturday, August 12, 2006

New age guru takes Italy by storm ...

[The Times, UK] A bestseller, but not to Catholic tastes.
A BOOK offering Asian mysticism and spirituality as the keys to life has become this summer’s bestseller in Roman Catholic Italy, provoking growing alarm at the Vatican.
La Fine è Il Mio Inizio (The End is My Beginning), by Tiziano Terzani, a former war correspondent, has sold 400,000 copies and gone into four editions since it was published posthumously in March — an astonishing figure in a country where bestseller normally means 100,000 copies.
Not surprisingly, Catholic voices are critical ...
This week Avvenire, Italy’s leading Catholic daily, accused Terzani of “leading people astray”. He had “completely lost sight of the incarnate and historical dimension of religious experience”. Alessandro Gnocchi, a Catholic author and television presenter, accused Terzani in the conservative newspaper Libero of peddling “a confused mixture of Oriental philosophy, Marxism and Christianity” that muddled “St Francis with Zen Buddhism”.
Seems that in Western Europe, ABC means Anything But Catholic. And I don't think the Church can simply respond haughtily, or pout like a spurned teenager. The spiritual riches are there in the Catholic heritage, hidden away, while the faith is presented as a series of sterile rules and regulations or sacramental hoops to be negotiated while dodging a cold ecclesial bureaucracy. The more the Church pouts and huffs, the more the beauty of the Gospel will be obscured. Evangelization seems to mean more and more, authentic witness, invitation. "Come and see."

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