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Friday, August 05, 2005

Catholic Scientology?

Q. There has been much talk about Scientology on the TV since one of today's biggest stars, Tom Cruise, has been so gung-ho about the topic. I recently saw a newscaster talk about Tom’s fiancée, Katie becoming a Scientologist, having been raised a Catholic. The newscaster reported that Katie can in fact be a Scientologist and still remain Catholic. I don’t believe they are correct, but not knowing anything about Scientology, I can’t refute their claims. What are we to say when someone asks us about the topic?
Name withheld by request

A. You are correct. The differences between Scientology and the Catholic faith are profound and irreconcilable, and anyone who sincerely claims to adhere to both religions has somehow failed to grasp those differences. Here are just a few of the most important contradictions:

  1. The Catholic faith teaches that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, who founded our Church two thousand years ago. Contradicting that central, indispensable article of Catholic faith, L. Ron Hubbard—the twentieth-century science fiction writer who founded Scientology in the 1950s—taught that Christ is an “illusion” implanted in humans to deceive us.
  2. The Catholic faith holds the Bible to be Scripture, inspired by God. The Church of Scientology holds as its scripture the writings of Hubbard.
  3. The Catholic faith teaches that the human race is fallen and in need of divine forgiveness and redemption. Through Jesus Christ we can be saved by God’s grace, a salvation that necessitates our repentance and conversion. Scientology, on the other hand, does not call its followers to seek God’s grace as repentant sinners, trusting in the redemption of Christ. Rather, much like the ancient Gnostic heresies, it teaches a self-help technique of personal improvement, based on its claim to offer enlightenment. This alleged “enlightenment” comes from the writings of Hubbard.
  4. The Catholic faith teaches that the worship of God, our loving Creator, is the joyful duty of every human being. Scientology teaches, as its official website declares, that God is not to be worshiped.
  5. Scientology teaches reincarnation, a notion the Catholic faith firmly rejects as false.
  6. Like the ancient Gnostic heresies, Scientology has an elaborate and exotic mythology that contradicts Catholic teaching about the nature of humankind and its spiritual predicament. Based on the ideas of Hubbard, the Church of Scientology teaches that about 75 million years ago, an evil intergalactic warlord called Xenu rounded up the inhabitants of various planets, massacred them and brought them to earth. The “thetans” of these extraterrestrials (in this mythology, a “thetan” is similar to a soul) are malicious and now fester within the bodies of human beings, from which they must be summoned out.
    Given these essential differences between the Catholic faith and Scientology (there are other differences as well), it should be clear that a person cannot sincerely hold to both religions without engaging in extensive self-contradiction. So Catholics should be skeptical of any claims that Scientology would somehow enhance or supplement their faith.

— Paul Thigpen, Ph.D.

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