Once again, a ridiculous age-old punchline question bears repeating: “Is the pope Catholic?”
Admittedly, I ask this question as a former Catholic, a born-again evangelical, Bible-centered believer in Jesus the Messiah, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
But, for perhaps the first time in modern history, it’s a serious question – one you might have to think about, rather than just laugh off.
There was a Vatican conference late last month that featured pop star Katy Perry speaking on Transcendental Meditation. It was a big deal, an expensive affair held April 26-28 and co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the CURA Foundation, a tax-exempt global health movement. Conference collaborators also included the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Vatican Secretariat for Communications and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Called “Unite to Cure – How Science, Technology and the 21st Century Will Impact Culture and Society,” the conference was characterized by some as the “Davos of biotech,” due to its similarities with the high-level World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort.
But the grand finale was Katy Perry promoting the very non-Christian practice of TM – for kids no less.
She was there with her spiritual mentor, Bob Roth, chief executive officer of the David Lynch Foundation. Roth is also a mentor of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Mehmet Oz, another Oprah favorite.
His organization was connected to the “meditating eye” charm bangles that were distributed to some participants at the beginning of the conference. Proceeds from the bangles go to teaching TM to veterans, urban youth and women who are victims of domestic violence. Also, in the gift pack was a book promoting TM the Vatican tried to block.
“They did manage to distribute these gifts through (at least) one hotel where some conference participants were staying,” said a Vatican official involved with the event. “Many other guests distributed their own materials to fellow attendees, as is the nature of these events.”
Not only was Perry a prominent speaker, but she and her movie star boyfriend, Orlando Bloom, got to meet the pope:
It was enough to make some well-positioned and faithful Catholics wonder if this pope is actually Catholic.
“For Katy Perry to speak about Transcendental Meditation from the same seat used by the pope during major church meetings is symbolic of the chaos, disorientation and scandal that marks this pontificate,” one source was quoted as telling the pro-life and Catholic-oriented LifeSiteNews. “It would be one thing to have her presence moderated by a church leader, but to have the podium given over to celebrity TM proponents with no church voice to counter them is unconscionable. It’s tragically emblematic of today’s culture: When the church chooses to be absent, the world steps in to fill the vacuum.”
In a letter to bishops issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1989, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned against Transcendental Meditation, saying “it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences.”
In 2003, the Pontifical Council for Culture issued a Christian reflection on the “New Age,” which similarly warned: “Many people are convinced that there is no harm in ‘borrowing’ from the wisdom of the East, but the example of Transcendental Meditation (TM) should make Christians cautious about the prospect of committing themselves unknowingly to another religion (in this case, Hinduism), despite what TM’s promoters claim about its religious neutrality.”
But what about the person of Katy Perry. There’s plenty of controversy there – especially for Catholics.
She’s been involved in a real estate battle with the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a bid to buy their California convent. She wanted to buy the eight-acre villa in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles for $14.5 million and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests.
The archdiocese of Los Angeles approved the sale to Perry contrary to the wishes of the sisters who owned the property.
California entrepreneur Dana Hollister stepped in, in an attempt to buy the property from the sisters, but a judge voided the sale in early 2017, saying the archdiocese had the right to sell the property, not the sisters. Last December, a jury found that Hollister should pay the archdiocese $3.47 million and Perry $1.57 million for interference with contractual relations and other misdeeds. Perry and the archdiocese are still working out the terms of the sale.
One of the sisters, Catherine Holzman, 89, collapsed and died two months ago during related legal proceedings in a Los Angeles County Court. The sisters said it would be a “sin to sell to” Perry, who once said she sold her soul to the devil to gain success in the music industry.
In 2016, Perry donated $10,000 to abortion provider Planned Parenthood and urged her followers to do the same.
So, I ask you once again: Is the pope Catholic?