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Pope Warns Against Spiritual Harassment and Theological Brainwashing

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 September, 2013

Internet1Pope Francis has said the goal of Catholics involved in Church communications is to help the world rediscover “the beauty that is at the heart of our existence and our journey, the beauty of faith” and the encounter with Christ.

Speaking on Saturday to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pope said the Church’s communications must be about learning how to enter into “dialogue with the men and women of today in order to appreciate their desires, their doubts and their hopes.”

The Pontiff said communications efforts must examine whether they are helping others to meet Christ.

He commented that many people today are reluctant to embrace a Christianity that appears “sterile and in difficulty” while others suffer from “a growing sense of disorientation and isolation.” The Church must reach out to answer their needs, he said.

Referring to the internet, which was the main topic for the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council, Pope Francis spoke of the enormous opportunities created by modern technology.

“The great digital continent not only involves technology but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, their concerns and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful and good.”

The fundamental challenge is not a technological one, the Pope said, although technology makes the work possible; the real challenge is bringing people to Christ.

A genuine encounter with Christ must be personal, he underlined, “It cannot be manipulated.”

“In these times we see a great temptation within the Church, which is spiritual harassment: the manipulation of conscience; a theological brainwashing which in the end leads to an encounter with Christ which is purely nominal, not with the live person of Christ,” he warned.

He added, “In a person’s encounter with Christ, both Christ and the person need to be involved! Not what’s wanted by the “spiritual engineer” who wants to manipulate people. This is the challenge,” he said.

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