Priest Blames Dissenting Theologians for Opening Church to New Age
Special to The Wanderer, October 3, 1991
by Leon J. Podles
BALTIMORE — Fr. Lawrence J. Gesy, a member of the Vatican Commission on Cults, blamed dissenting theologians for the invasion of the Catholic Church by the New Age movement. The theologians' questioning of orthodoxy destroyed the beliefs and practices that had protected Catholics from the world of evil spirits that seek to destroy man. Fr. Gesy singled out Fr. Richard McBrien, head of the Theology Department of Notre Dame, for criticism because of McBrien's attempts to destroy belief in the existence of the Devil. Fr. Gesy spoke here at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on Sept. 19th.
Fr. Gesy sketched the salient characteristics on New Age beliefs and how they differed from orthodox Christianity. He revealed that he had at one time been involved in the New Age movement through EST. EST (Erhard Sensitivity Training) was founded by Werner Erhard in the 1970s as a way to raise human potential. It was a forerunner of the New Age’s preoccupation with self and self-worship. Fr. Gesy said that he had come to Baltimore to study at St. Mary's Seminary in the 1970s. There he had been indoctrinated in a dissenting theology that denied the existence of evil spirits. He was also taught that he could choose the doctrines of the Church he wanted to believe. He became a "cafeteria Catholic."
While an associate pastor at St. Lawrence in Baltimore, Fr. Gesy became involved in EST. He preached about it from the pulpit, and it dominated his life. He even had "EST masses." The experience left him confused, disheartened, and exhausted. He got out of EST, and while studying what was wrong with this movement, became someone to whom people brought their problems because they or family members were involved in the New Age or in cults.
Fr. Gesy has worked as a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital in Baltimore, and is familiar with bizarre psychological conditions. When he encountered his first cases of diabolical obsession, however, it "scared the Hell back into him." People who dabble in the occult and channeling establish connections with evil spirits. Fr. Gesy began working with the local police to investigate occult crimes and he quickly became convinced that the traditional teaching of the Church about the reality of demons and their hatred for man was entirely true.
In the spring of 1991 20/20 televised the exorcism of Gina, which had been arranged by Fr. James LeBar, a consultant to Cardinal O'Connor of New York. Fr. Gesy had been invited to appear on the Ted Koppel show with Richard McBrien to comment on this exorcism, but he declined. He was appalled at Fr. McBrien's denial of the existence of evil spirits. Gesy said that the constant tradition of the Church was that Satan exists, that he is a personal being, and that he is at work in the world. Paul VI had reaffirmed this teaching, and warned of the operation of Satan in the Church itself. Fr. Gesy and Officer Donald Thomson of the Baltimore Police Department are writing a book on Satanic cults and crime that will be published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.
Fr. Gesv warned against "dabbling" in anything to do with the occult. Even hypnotism, which he admitted has a legitimate medical use, is dangerous because it surrenders control of the mind to someone else. Gesy told the audience "to turn to the Eucharist and to Mary." He said that the evil spirits feared and hated the Eucharist and Mary more than anything else. The audience was advised to stay close to the sacraments, to prayer, to the teaching of the Church, to the saints, and to sacraments like holy water. He said that he did not know how to deal with priests like Matthew Fox, O.P. who spread false teaching and propaganda for the New Age. He had himself done this when he was involved with EST, and asked the audience to pray for such priests and Religious.
The question and answer period was disrupted by a woman who got up and tried to take over the meeting. She was a feminist who announced that the real problem in the Church is sexism, and that she is publishing a book that traced the roots of all problems in the Church to mandatory celibacy. She was asked to leave by the audience.