The Lure of Alternative Religions

Interview With Author Roberta Grillo

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MILAN, Italy, MARCH 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- People who enter alternative religious movements or sects are often seeking that "something which is lacking," says the president of Milan's Socio-Religious Research Group.



Roberta Grillo, who is also a religion professor, is the author of "Attenti al lupo. Movimenti religiosi alternativi & sette sataniche" (Beware of the Wolf: Alternative Religious Movements and Satanic Sects), published in Italian by Edizioni Ares.

In this interview with ZENIT, Grillo explains the incompatibility between the practice of Reiki and Christianity, and the difference between alternative religious movements and the ecclesial movements recognized by the Church.

Q: Do you think that people who frequent these new alternative religious groups would be at ease in the Church?

Grillo: The reasons that impel a person to enter one of these groups are many, while that which enables them to remain in them is due in part to the massive mental conditioning always exercised on the victim.

At times, the triggering factor that has caused their joining is a lack of acceptance, or serious incomprehension on the part of a relative, friend or teacher.

Other times it is curiosity or the desire to acquire instruments that give power, success ... but it is always the desire for happiness.

I believe that the Church, precisely because she is "mother," should make it easy for these people who are "searching" to find acceptance and charity, joined to science, good guidance and discreet and wise psycho-spiritual support.

Q: Sometimes, the fear of some parents as regards new alternative religious movements makes them also mistrust new movements in the Church. How can this confusion be resolved?

Grillo: There is an essential difference between these two realities. Alternative religious movements always create a very strong, binding mental conditioning. The ecclesial movements, on the other hand, are such because they are based on the Gospel, and the Gospel is a proposal, not an imposition.

At times the Church might seem to be too large a family. People can then choose that ecclesial movement or community in which they can find those charisms that are more suited to themselves. Not to speak of the religious orders, committed already for centuries to the Church, each according to the charism received -- contemplative prayer, dedication to the poor and suffering and preaching.

Q: In your list you include Reiki and state that one cannot be a Christian and practice Reiki. What is it and why do you consider it dangerous?

Grillo: It is about a universal energy, possessed once by the prophets and Jesus Christ.

The pity is that instead of referring to Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Gospels, these "therapists" draw their power from Buddhist spirituality and the doctrine of the "chakra," known by yoga philosophy and practiced by Hinduism and Buddhism.

Proposed as a positive instrument, useful for one's own and others' well-being, Reiki is in reality a secret discipline in its symbols and contents, associated with health therapies that have no scientific basis such as crystal therapy and therapeutic astrology, aromatherapy and chromotherapy.

Not to speak of the relationship between Reiki and Christianity. There can be no compatibility for the Christian, other than the loving acceptance owed to every person, according to the word of the Gospel.

Hence, there can be no "dual belonging," which includes adherence to this pantheist, Gnostic and occultist system, diametrically opposed to the Christian.