Page 4, 17th November 1950

17th November 1950
Page 4
Page 4, 17th November 1950 — AT YOUR SERVICE

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Organisations: YOUR SERVICE, Oxford Group
People: Catholic
Locations: Rome


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BY THE EDITOR The Oxford Group

A friend who is a member of the Oxford Group has given me the enclosed booklet, "The Secret of Caux." "Is Moral Rearmament the same movement as the Oxford Group. because I seem to remember that you said recently that Catholics should not become members of one or both. Yet many well-known Catholics take part in the Moral Rearmament gatherings."

No. It has never been stated in THE CATHOLIC HERALD that Catholics are forbidden to have anything to do with Buchmanism, Moral Rearmament. the Oxford Group (they are all the same). The author of the booklet enclosed is described as " a noted Catholic writer and historian "and we have no reason to disbelieve it. Moreover we have often received from readers

evidence that well-known Catholics, even clerics, have had dealings with and in some respects praised the Movement.

What has happened is that individual Hierarchies, including our own and Ireland's have ',forbidden Catholics under their spiritual jurisdiction to associate with the Movement because of the dangers they see in it. Other Bishops, including the Bishop of the Diocese in Switzerland where the Movement's headquarters is to be found, have gravely warned the faithful about the dangers without apparently actually forbidding all association. These actions apply directly only to the flocks of the Bishops responsible for them. and they are governed both by the Bishops' own views and the circumstances of their countries or dioceses. Indirectly, however, they are of significance to all Catholics who will be put on their guard by warnings and prohibitions given elsewhere,


The fact that no universal prohibition has been made by Rome so far suggests that it has not yet been decided whether association with the Movement is in itself incompatible with being a Catholic, and the Movement of course claims not to teach any new form of religion. but rather to ginger up the religious life and observance of people belonging to any Communion. It is because of the likely or possible results to the individual Catholic of association that prohibitions and warnings have resulted. Buchmanism (which would appear to owe much to unusual psychological powers in its leader) concentrates on working up the feeling of being and doing good, on fostering a closer and more direct experience of the consolations and visible benefits of living closer to God, and on increasing and propagating these feelings and experiences by sharing them as much as possible with others—swopping religious and moral thrills, as it were. None of this is really new in the history of religion, and some of it at least has its place in Catholicism so long as it results from God's action on us rather than from any emotional excitement of our own

making. If so, it will flow from God's Revelation and be articulated with the normal sacramental life of

the Church. In theory, the individual Catholic who works in with the Movement (where such association is not specifically forbidden) may ba stimulated by the Movement to find in Catholicism the true spring of the feelings that are encouraged. In practice, such a Catholic may find himself forgetting all about doctrine and the sacramental life because the sugar is more appetising and exciting.

Religion of experience has always proved dangerous precisely because it needs a cool head and wise direction to distinguish between the genuine article and the counterfeit. And the counterfeit in the end does a great deal of harm. Oddly enough one of the possible effects of this Movement may well be exactly the opposite of what it intends. It looks for a widespread return to religion, but by emphasising individual experience of religion, it keeps religion a private matter—a matter of taste. The Church. on the contrary, hat always insisted that religion is a universal concern because its basis is objective. not subjective. The modern world's failure to realise this is the most potent cause of the decay of religion.

All in all, there seems no good reason why Catholics should work with Buchmanism ; but every reason why they should intensify their life of prayer and increase their apostolic zeal within the Church.

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