A Challenge to Faith and Catholic Identity-Scientology in view: Archbishop Robert Rivas, O.P.

A Challenge to Faith and Catholic Identity

Scientology in view:

In his Easter homily Archbishop Robert Rivas, O.P., of the Archdiocese of Castries the capital of St Lucia, has denounced  Scientology’s penetration of his nation through the Scientology front group, The Way To Happiness.  The homily is an historic document. Archbishop Rivas is the first Roman Catholic hierarch in the English-speaking world to speak out against Scientology. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and Roman Catholic Primate of Canada publicly criticized Scientology on two occasions in 2009 and warned Catholics about Scientology at his annual press lunch in February of this year. However, his remarks were made in French and not reported outside the francophone media of Quebec. Archbishop Rivas refers to Cardinal Ouellet in his homily.

Archbishop Rivas’ homily addresses three subjects of concern: the current drought in St. Lucia, the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti; and the subversion of  St. Lucia by Scientology. Dialogue Ireland has received the complete text of the homily, and we print below  the concluding section, which deals with Scientology..

The Freewinds is a cruise ship operated by the Church of Scientology in the Caribbean. Training for the most advanced level of Scientology’s expensive courses of self-improvement may be taken only on board it.  In March the ship docked in Castries to launch Scientology’s campaign to distribute L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way To Happiness, a simple, yet subversive compilation of moral principles. The campaign is being carried out by a Scientology front group in St. Lucia called the National Youth Mentoring Programme, which is promoting the book as a means of crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation.

Prime Minister Stephenson King and Senator Guy Mayers, Minister for Home Affairs and National Security. gave speeches on board the ship praising the launch of the campaign. Books were later distributed to children in the heart of Castries at Walcott Square, on which is located Archbishop Rivas’ Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception..

Archbishop Rivas is scheduled to be interviewed concerning the Scientology affair on Thursday, April 15, by Helena Television in St. Lucia. Here is the section of his homily dealing with the cult of Scientology

A Challenge to Faith and Catholic Identity

This Easter, many Catholics in St. Lucia have found themselves looking into the tomb for answers to their faith in response to the perceived invasion of Scientology on our fair and ordinarily peaceful isle.  The apparently harmless and surreptitious Freewinds, the flagship of Scientology, has revealed that it is not here merely on a goodwill mission.  It has a plan.  This is evident from the propaganda presently circulating in our society in form of a booklet titled The Way to Happiness – A Common Sense Guide To Better Living.  While it may or may not lack common sense, it certainly is not literature to be put in the hands of eight and ten year olds from our primary schools as happened after a Rally at the Derek Walcott Square on March 10, this year.

There are over 140,000 copies of this booklet to be distributed in St. Lucia.  If the objective of local collaborators in disseminating this literature was to teach virtue and stem crime in our nation wouldn’t 140,000 Bibles with the teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and I Corinthians 13, Paul’s Charter of Love, just to mention some references in the rich heritage of our faith, have made more sense.  There is no quick fix to repairing the moral decay in our society.  Collaboration and education in spiritual and moral values are needed at every level:  The home, school, workplace, community and Church.

If the way to happiness lies along the road to truth then the concept of truth in this booklet (‘what is true is what is true for you’ cf #7) is relativistic.  Relativism is a subjective philosophy that does not accept objective truth.  How does a Catholic Christian accept the teachings of Christ if he/she gives credibility to, without critiquing, the teachings of the Way to Happiness: ‘If it is not true for you, it isn’t true’? This is the literature being put in the hands of the children of our nation to teach them virtue and morality.  Instead it undermines the principles of authority, faith and truth itself.  Faith and truth, for Scientologists, are personal beliefs.  Believe what you want; Truth is whatever you deem to be true.  This is contrary to Catholic teaching where faith and truth are absolute.  This matter needs serious review on the part of the Civil Leadership of our nation.  Good, healthy, drug free living in a crime free society is what we all want but not at the price of compromising our faith and Christian values.  The fundamental teachings of Scientology are in conflict with the teachings of the Christian faith.  As Catholic Christians if we are going to critique Scientology we need to have a good grasp of our own faith.  This is a challenge to all Catholics to be better grounded and educated in their faith.

Are we aware that in our neighbouring island of St. Vincent the Freewinds has been banned from entry into the country? Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, Canada, has spoken out publicly about Scientology on more than one occasion in 2009.  Now is not the time for Catholics in St. Lucia to be looking into the tomb.  Now is the time to come out of our comfort zones, rise from our complacency and witness to our faith with greater conviction, deeper commitment and clearer identity. Our Vision 2020 – Disciples on Mission in its goal emphasizes the need to rediscover Catholic Identity.  The Challenge is now ours to know our faith and who we are as Catholics.

This Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  HE IS RISEN! (Lk 24:6). This is the truth and we believe it.  We have heard the wake up call: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light’ (St. Augustine – Homily for Holy Saturday).   ‘Christ is the champion of the truth: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6).  He came to witness to the truth and says: ‘all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice’ (Jn 18:37).  The Truth has spoken.  Now is the time of reckoning.  Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

Your Archbishop,

+ Robert Rivas, O.P.,

Archbishop of Castries.

March 25, 2010.

Here is the complete text

Easter Message:

“He is Risen”

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The peace and blessing of the risen Lord be with you!

Spiritual Drought

As we celebrate Easter this year we welcome the first showers from the heavens after a long drought.  For some of us the drought in Lent may have reminded us of our own spiritual dryness and emptiness as well as the wilderness of our own existence where we,    at times, find ourselves on the periphery, estranged, struggling, disenchanted, and even alienated.  A water shortage during the drought taught us to conserve, appreciate and search for water.  Becoming aware of our spiritual drought can help us to recognize much of what we take for granted in our faith and the distance that exists between our faith and our daily lives.  We need a better connection between what we believe and what we do.  Faith involves a personal relationship with Christ which is nurtured in prayer, a desire for God in our lives, meditation on the Word of God and the daily response to Christ’s call to take up our cross and follow him.

Faith gives us the desire for something more in our lives and, in a time of spiritual drought, it urges us to a search for the living water Jesus offered the woman of Samaria: ‘If you only knew what God is offering…you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water’ (John 4:10).  Her encounter with Jesus totally revolutionized her life and her entire community.  Drought is an experience of death which can lead to life.  Drought in our lives is a time for facing the truth about ourselves.  Only the truth will set us free (Jn 8: 32).  St. Lucia has faced its drought.  Can St. Lucia face the truth?

From Ashes to Glory

As we celebrate Easter this year we remember the dust and ashes of Haiti following the catastrophic earthquake that left hundreds of thousands dead.  Lives wiped out.  A nation under a shroud of suffering! How will Haiti celebrate Easter this year after facing such disaster and suffering? Haiti has had its passion and death; will it have the resilience to rise with Christ in celebrating his full mystery of Passion, Death and Resurrection? Is Haiti still looking into a tomb? Are our sisters and brothers in Haiti still counting the dead? Will they be Mary of Magdala weeping in the cemetery or Peter and John seeing the empty tomb and believing? How challenged will be the people’s faith when they hear the words of the Gospel at the Easter Vigil: ‘Why look for the living among the dead’ (Luke 24:5)? The Paschal Mystery is not complete without the Resurrection.  Nor can it exclude suffering and death.

People who know death can relate to life.  Haiti has shared in the Paschal Mystery in a dramatic way.  I believe that this Easter Haiti will be empowered to rise from its experience of death and devastation by the same hand that raised up Christ from the dead: ‘The Lord’s right hand has triumphed; his right hand raised me up.  I shall not die, I shall live and recount his deeds’ (Ps 117:16-17).  The risen Christ who has conquered evil, sin and death will be Haiti’s source of hope and liberation this Easter.  Contemplating Christ’s passion, death and resurrection will take away the sting of death for Haiti this Easter.  In the same way that death has no power over Christ any more, so shall    it be for Haiti.  I also believe that the regional as well as the global response to Haiti is a great sign of solidarity and a promise of a new time of hope for Haiti. Haiti will rise from its ashes.  The response to Haiti by the three local Churches under my jurisdiction, Castries, Kingstown and Bridgetown, has been stupendous.  We have shared Haiti’s pain and loss.  One day we will share Haiti’s glory which already begins with Easter and the Resurrection.

A Challenge to Faith and Catholic Identity

In his Easter, many Catholics in St. Lucia have found themselves looking into the tomb for answers to their faith in response to the perceived invasion of Scientology on our fair and ordinarily peaceful isle.  The apparently harmless and surreptitious Freewinds, the flagship of Scientology, has revealed that it is not here merely on a goodwill mission.  It has a plan.  This is evident from the propaganda presently circulating in our society in form of a booklet titled The Way to Happiness – A Common Sense Guide To Better Living.  While it may or may not lack common sense, it certainly is not literature to be put in the hands of eight and ten year olds from our primary schools as happened after a Rally at the Derek Walcott Square on March 10, this year.

There are over 140,000 copies of this booklet to be distributed in St. Lucia.  If the objective of local collaborators in disseminating this literature was to teach virtue and stem crime in our nation wouldn’t 140,000 Bibles with the teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and I Corinthians 13, Paul’s Charter of Love, just to mention some references in the rich heritage of our faith, have made more sense.  There is no quick fix to repairing the moral decay in our society.  Collaboration and education in spiritual and moral values are needed at every level:  The home, school, workplace, community and Church.

If the way to happiness lies along the road to truth then the concept of truth in this booklet (‘what is true is what is true for you’ cf #7) is relativistic.  Relativism is a subjective philosophy that does not accept objective truth.  How does a Catholic Christian accept the teachings of Christ if he/she gives credibility to, without critiquing, the teachings of the Way to Happiness: ‘If it is not true for you, it isn’t true’? This is the literature being put in the hands of the children of our nation to teach them virtue and morality.  Instead it undermines the principles of authority, faith and truth itself.  Faith and truth, for Scientologists, are personal beliefs.  Believe what you want; Truth is whatever you deem to be true.  This is contrary to Catholic teaching where faith and truth are absolute.  This matter needs serious review on the part of the Civil Leadership of our nation.  Good, healthy, drug free living in a crime free society is what we all want but not at the price of compromising our faith and Christian values.  The fundamental teachings of Scientology are in conflict with the teachings of the Christian faith.  As Catholic Christians if we are going to critique Scientology we need to have a good grasp of our own faith.  This is a challenge to all Catholics to be better grounded and educated in their faith.

Are we aware that in our neighbouring island of St. Vincent the Freewinds has been banned from entry into the country? Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, Canada, has spoken out publicly about Scientology on more than one occasion in 2009.  Now is not the time for Catholics in St. Lucia to be looking into the tomb.  Now is the time to come out of our comfort zones, rise from our complacency and witness to our faith with greater conviction, deeper commitment and clearer identity. Our Vision 2020 – Disciples on Mission in its goal emphasizes the need to rediscover Catholic Identity.  The Challenge is now ours to know our faith and who we are as Catholics.

This Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  HE IS RISEN! (Lk 24:6). This is the truth and we believe it.  We have heard the wake up call: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light’ (St. Augustine – Homily for Holy Saturday).   ‘Christ is the champion of the truth: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6).  He came to witness to the truth and says: ‘all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice’ (Jn 18:37).  The Truth has spoken.  Now is the time of reckoning.  Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

Your Archbishop,

+ Robert Rivas, O.P.,

Archbishop of Castries.

March 25, 2010.

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4 Responses

  1. Scientology coerces Abortions

  2. Scientology does coerce Abortion. It also keep people under guard. Sometimes for years before they get out.
    Excellent Homily
    Blessings,
    nancy

  3. Indeed there is something fishy abouut scientology./most of its staff member are people who desparate before,ä .. money is there objective,è.brain washing thus making one think he or she is learned through reading so many books writen by one man over a short period of time.the only reason people are entering this cult is because of lack of information pliz came out and help!

  4. I have concerns about the cult’s influence in areas where political corruption or desperation reign. Apparently, the Freewinds throws some grand parties for the local island honchos.

    I’m more concerned about Scientology’s presence in Haiti. The wave of Scientology Volunteer Ministers, having collected sufficient photographs and “omg, we’re HELPING” blogs, has bugged out, leaving the Scientology orphanage. Lord, help those poor children, who will no doubt be taught enough reading and writing to be functional before shipping off to the US on a Religious Worker Visa to do hard labor with little compensation. This is a double pronged problem.

    First, the cult is misusing the Religious Worker Visa with impunity.
    Second, the idea of innocent children being raised by people who believe children are just thetans in little bodies who don’t need guidance and nurturing is just horrifying. There are many stories of neglect, exploitation and abuse from people who were raised by Scientologists in Scientology care. Many of them joined the Sea Org at age 12 on up, and began working instead of receiving the education promised. Here are some of their stories:
    http://exscientologykids.com/voicesinunison.html

    Scientology has a history of abusing and neglecting children in their care by trusting parents. It is time to start monitoring any Scientology-related organization that is entrusted with the well-being and education of children.

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