Catholic Charity promotes Buddhism at Catholic School


I know I moan a lot on here but part of the reason I do that is so everyone knows where we are and why things are the way they are. Not just in the Church at large, but locally.

Despite the great gifts given to our dioceses in terms of time, money, buildings, etc, there is a great tendency to do nothing or support the wrong things. I suppose the obvious element here is leadership. You have to have strong leadership in any successful project. You have to know you can ask the leader if you don't know what to do. You have to be confident that the people in specific jobs know what they are their for and that they have the confidence of the person in charge.

A bishop is not like the boss of a business. He is WAY more powerful! The bishops are sovereigns in their dioceses. The pope doesn't tell them what to do - the pope is the bishop of Rome and he does have universal jurisdiction but this is something which is very seldom exercised. It doesn't matter if there's an annoying person telling him what they think should happen - fire them. If the structure is rotten, torch it. Burn it all down, sweep out the stables and salt the earth! The people need bishops who lead.

If, like me, you believe in the Gospel message, if like me, you think the Good News has the power to change lives, to change hearts and to change the world even, you might, like me, feel frustrated and disappointed when the people we enable and support to carry out that mission fail to do that.

We all tend to think positively about charities we support and one of the most loved charities in Brentwood Diocese is Brentwood Catholic Children's Society. It is beloved of organisations like The Catenian Association, of which I am a member, although I'm not sure for how much longer - but that is another story.

BCCS brings in over £1M a year which helps it in its work: "Providing counselling and therapeutic services for children and young adults up to 18 years and their families. They work in partnership with other agencies and schools, and their concern is the emotional health and well-being of children and young people. The main focus is the early intervention, prevention and mitigation of behavioral [sic] and emotional problems. They provide training for school staff."

I was dismayed to see this on their twitter feed this week:

I'm not sure I'm happy with a Catholic Charity teaching "mindfulness" in a Catholic School?  Why do they feel the need to do this? Isn't it introducing syncretism and doesn't it have the potential to confuse the teachers about the mission and thus ultimately the children regarding prayer?

This is emphasised by Susan Brinkman, author of A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness who states:

A problem I have seen stems from erroneous interpretations of Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. This document says that we are permitted to adopt what is good from other religions because it believes that other religions “often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.” What is often overlooked, however, is that a reflection of a ray is not truth that is directly from the source, but only a reflection of the source that is found in the Catholic faith.

This is why prominent theologians such as Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, warned that the poorly-catechized Christian should not engage in any kind of interreligious dialogue because this is only for doctrinally equipped Christians.

And in regard to incorporating eastern meditation techniques into Christian prayer, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger teaches in A Letter to the Bishops on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation that we can adopt what is good from other religions “so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured.” Herein lies the problem. Buddhist meditation techniques such as mindfulness, by their very nature, are diametrically opposed to the Christian conception of prayer, which is “the raising of one’s heart and mind to God.” Buddhist meditation focuses on the self, while Christian meditation focuses on God.

In lieu of all of the above, St. John Paul II issues a well-founded warning in Crossing the Threshold of Faith that because the Buddhist and the Catholic have an essentially different way of perceiving the world, the Christian who wants to embrace ideas originating in Eastern religions needs to “know one’s own spiritual heritage well” before deciding whether or not to set the Faith aside.

So, we have a Catholic Charity taking money from Catholics to push ideas which are dangerous and will only serve to confuse young people in a Catholic School.

You see, we need a cohesive unity in order to build The Kingdom of God, not confusing mixed messages and patchwork ideas of "spirituality".

Attempts to justify the practice by appealing to the fact it is "secular" don't cut it for me either. The New Scientist reports:

About one in 12 people who try meditation experience an unwanted negative effect, usually a worsening in depression or anxiety, or even the onset of these conditions for the first time, according to the first systematic review of the evidence. “For most people it works fine but it has undoubtedly been overhyped and it’s not universally benevolent,” says Miguel Farias at Coventry University in the UK, one of the researchers behind the work.
So as well as having obvious roots outside Catholic spirituality, given credence to non-Catholic prayer - which strikes me as extremely dodgy, the "secular" benefits are far from universal and possibly harmful anyway.

Is this anything more than an attempt to appear "woke" & relevant by appealing to modern "trends"? Should Catholic Charities be true to their founding ethos and name by present Catholic spirituality and meditation rather than non-Catholic, possibly problematic ideas? If an authorised & loved diocesan charity is engaged in this sort of activity, should we consider what message this sends to those receiving the "workshop"? I would suggest it is that spiritual discernment is redundant in Catholic education and an "any goes" approach has been adopted. 

I'm sure there are lots of "reasonable" ways BCCS could justify this, but it is simply evidence of a lack of Catholic direction and a lack of critical thinking on behalf of the leadership of both the charity and the school who are prepared to allow this.

Do our clergy know about this?

Does the bishop know?

Do the trustees know?

Do those who donate and support know and support this direction for BCCS?

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  1. Why are the comments that supported BCCS and the work they do, including Mindfulness, taken down from your website? You should have a notice saying any comments not supporting your view are removed if you operate a policy of censorship. There was nothing abusive only fair comment suggesting that the judgement of Matthew 7 v 16-20 should be trusted in evaluating their work.

    1. They're not taken down. I haven't received any! Of course I operate a policy of censorship because if I didn't the comments section would fill up with spam and lunatics! I'm happy to engage with reasoned debate.

    2. There is clearly a problem with your website. I posted a comment yesterday under the name of BCCS supporter and it has not appeared. It was not abusive, just stating a sadness that you have taken this line against a wonderful charity supporting children and teachers.

    3. I'm getting these? Maybe the problem is your end? I get infuriated with that sort of attitude to be honest. If they are claiming to be a Catholic Charity, they should act in accordance with a Catholic ethos. If we just ignore these issues we endanger the gospel itself!


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