U.S NOTES & Quotes

Goddess Cultists Target Catholics and Jews

LOS ANGELES TIMES, Nov. 20—A radical strain of feminist, New Age religion called the “Goddess movement” has alarmed female — and Jewish — observers as it increasingly infiltrates mainstream religion, said a recent Times report. “The whole Goddess movement is creating a false god in the image of woman,” said Diane Knippers, president of the Institute of Religion and Democracy in Washington.

She told of visiting a conference at which followers lined up to take a bite of an apple — a reference to Eve.

“It horrified me,” Knippers said. “Eve was disobeying God, and that is not something to be copied.”

They follow Eve's example of disobedience as well: Goddess devotees deny the authority of the Bible, the existence of the Trinity, and accept lesbianism.

Rabbi Bradley Artson of the Board of Rabbis in Los Angeles says they preach anti-Semitism as well, blaming the Hebrews for patriarchy. “I find that no less oppressive than old-fashioned sexism,” he was quoted saying.

Helen Hull Hitchcock was quoted deploring Goddess cultists who seek to enforce their beliefs in Catholic parishes.

“I find it ironic that the Catholic Church is charged with reducing the role of women when it most strongly utilizes the gifts of women,” said Hitchcock, of Women for Faith and Family.

“If you don't like this religion, why try to deform it? Why don't you start your own?” she said.

Homiletics: A Lost Art?

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Nov. 21—Catholic homilies, many complain, could use some work. A new program may help address the problem.

Bad homilies may have become more prevalent because of the unique Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, wrote New York Daily News columnist Charles Bell recently.

“Catholics often complain about the poor quality of homilies. … One reason, possibly, is that it is Communion, not the sermon, that is central to Catholic worship. Most homilies run 10 or so minutes, tops, which often does not allow for much in the way of anecdotes, reflections, and so on.”

Nonetheless, Msgr. Timothy Dolan, rector of North American College, a Vatican seminary, took advantage of the many priests and nuns in Washington for the bishops' conference to arrange a meeting to look for someone to head a new homiletics program he is starting, said the columnist.

“I call it a summit meeting on preaching,” Msgr. Dolan told Bell. Several candidates gave their advice to homilists and Bell quoted some of their suggestions.

“Keep to just one point. It's the hardest thing to do,” said one candidate. “Teach seminarians to speak of Jesus and God as if they actually had heard of them, not just read about them,” said another.

Michigan Catholics Unite at the Ballot Box

THE DETROIT NEWS, Nov. 21—Detroit News religion columnist George Bullard has noticed something new in Michigan: Catholic unity on matters of public policy.

“John Kennedy's run for the White House was the last time ‘Catholic vote’ was chatted up seriously as an entity. Kennedy made a point to say he wasn't beholden to the Vatican on political matters, and that set the tone for Catholic politicians since.

“But Catholics are back. They heavily influenced the Nov. 3 defeat of a state ballot proposal to allow assisted suicide. The Michigan Church transformed itself into an instant political organization, with speeches and literature distributed through churches. Many of the faithful prayed at Mass, reading from special cards, for the defeat of assisted suicide.

“It was a throwback to the 1950s when they prayed like that weekly for the conversion of Russia. And even though President Reagan often gets credit for dismantling the evil empire, who knows what really works, and what doesn't?

“That brings up speaker-elect Perricone, Republican from Kalamazoo. He might reopen debate on the death penalty, now banned in Michigan. Capital punishment also concerns Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, who's against death penalties and is the spiritual leader for 1.5 million Catholics in Metro Detroit. “If he does, expect Catholics to be in the debate as a group. Some in the archdiocese already are keeping a distant eye on Lansing [the state capital] on the matter.”