Syncretism is a religious form that mixes doctrines, liturgies and spiritual practices of different origins. Syncretism means the integration or merging of doctrines of different origins into a new doctrine, both in the sphere of religious beliefs and in that of philosophical conceptions. More particularly, in the history of religions, Syncretism means the fusion of two or more religions, or even the partial contamination of one religion with elements of others. The term Syncretism, however, has spread in the modern era thanks above all to the New Age movement, which gives Syncretism a particular meaning.
New Age and syncretism
The New Age doctrine is in fact a form of religious syncretism because it mixes elements of various origins. It recalls elements of oriental wisdom (Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga), of the Esoterisms of the Western tradition (theosophy, anthroposophy, occultism), of Christianity and of the religions of primitives (shamanism, animism, magic).
In this vision God is immanentized, is real, exists and is part of nature and man. God is seen as an energy that permeates all things, the sum of consciousness existing in the universe. Man’s transformation lies in learning to recognize the divine energy in oneself and in nature.
For the New Age, in fact, the best part of every religion is its esoteric, secret and mysterious side. At the same time, the most modern meaning of syncretism simply indicates that the substratum of all religions is unique.
For the effects of syncretism it is therefore not important to which creed one belongs, but the actual engagement in the inner search within the religion or doctrine in which it is established, by choice or culture.
The Catholic Church and syncretism
A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI – receiving a group of Brazilian bishops of the Amazon in audience – invited them to avoid any syncre tism, respecting the discipline of worship to the utmost. As regards, in fact, dialogue with other religions; the Vatican calls for the fight against syncre tism and the propagation of sects; a question particularly felt in the Asian, African and South American continents.
If on the one hand Pope Ratzinger sees (a mentality incapable of accepting the possibility of real divine intervention in this world to the rescue of men), religious syncretism instead affirms the substantial unity of all faiths and schools of thought, beyond dogmas and formal and external differences.
According to the Syncretistic view, the founding principles and principles of every creed (such as the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men, the value and importance of prayer, universal love, etc.) are the only ones and the same.