Skip to comments.Consumerism Exacerbates the Spread of Depression, Says Pope
Posted on 11/15/2003 4:20:14 PM PST by nickcarraway
Addresses Congress Held in the Vatican on This Illness
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The spread of depression today is a worrying phenomenon induced in part by society, John Paul II says.
The Pope encouraged those suffering from this illness to develop their spiritual life in order to discover the love of God, and those who care for them to be affectionate, so that the sufferers will feel accepted and loved.
The Holy Father addressed the challenges that depression poses to the Church and society, when he received in Paul VI Hall today the participants in the 18th International Conference on Depression, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
The meeting gathered some 600 medical experts, committed lay people and Church figures to analyze the situation of some 340 million people worldwide who suffer from depression, an illness that in the worst of cases can lead to suicide.
"The spread of depressive states is worrying," the Pope began by saying. "Psychological and spiritual human frailties are manifested which at least in part are induced by society."
"It is important to be aware of the repercussion that messages transmitted by the media have on persons, by exalting consumerism, immediate satisfaction of desires, the ever greater race for material well-being," he said.
In the face of this situation, "it is necessary to propose new ways so that each one will be able to build his own personality, cultivating the spiritual life, foundation of a mature existence," the Holy Father said.
In fact, "depression is always a spiritual trial," he added. To people who no longer see the meaning of life, the Pope recommended meditation of the Psalms "in which the holy author expresses his joys and anxieties in prayer"; the recitation of the rosary to see Christ with Mary's eyes; and participation in the Eucharist, "source of interior peace."
The Pontiff reminded those who struggle with depression that "in his infinite love, God is always close to those who suffer," adding that "depressive illness can be a way to discover other aspects of oneself and new forms of encounter with God."
Lastly, the Holy Father encouraged those who care for people afflicted by depression, "to make them perceive the tenderness of God, integrate them in a community of faith and life where they feel accepted, understood, supported, in a word, worthy to love and to be loved."
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, head of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, this week is running an international conference on depression, a mental illness which he described as the number one killer of our time. The gathering brings distinguished psychiatrists and medical professionals together with leaders in the church to outline a Catholic response to the problem.
This gesture of cooperation with the discipline of psychiatry comes at an interesting time, since another Vatican department, the Congregation for Catholic Education, is currently studying the use of psychiatric instruments in seminary formation with an eye towards issuing a document on the subject. Behind that initiative lie concerns inside and outside the Vatican that modern psychiatry sometimes rests on assumptions hostile to orthodox religious faith. To take an extreme case, belief in angels and demons is taken by some mental health professionals as prima facie evidence of disturbance.
I asked Lozano Barragán about this on Nov. 12, and he gave an essentially positive response about the application of psychiatry.
Sometimes the use of psychiatry may be exaggerated, he said. But science, true science, is never contrary to religious truth. Thus psychiatry should be very welcome in the church.
Lozano Barragán said that obviously if a given psychiatrist sets himself or herself up in opposition to religious practice, there could be conflicts. It must never come to a choice between counseling or confession, he said.
In the end, the gifts of God that we administer are more important, he said. But psychiatry and the spiritual life of the church should accompany one another. Whats needed is a profound dialogue with the experts in this field.
On Nov. 13, Lozano Barragán opened the conference with a fascinating overview of 20th century philosophical trends. His basic contention was that the root cause of todays epidemic of depression (one estimate says 12 percent of the worlds population is depressed) is post-modernity, and especially its embrace of weak thinking, meaning relativism and skepticism. Given the collapse of confidence in human reason and in the rationality of the world we cant know anything, and we cant trust anything its no wonder, Lozano Barragán suggested, lots of people are depressed.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints, argued that authentic Christian spirituality is the best antidote.
Whoever truly believes in the paschal mystery of Christ, and in his or her own likeness to him, can never be depressed, Martins said. Depression is not Christian, its not part of Biblical anthropology, or of the Catholic faith.
Martins meant, it should be noted, that Christian faith in itself does not produce depression, not that individual Christians who find themselves depressed have somehow failed in the spiritual life. That point was made at the Nov. 12 press conference by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the spokesperson for the Vatican and himself a psychiatrist.
Depression is an illness of the body, not the soul, Navarro said. It can happen to the most holy person and to the least holy, just like a broken leg.
Case in point for my comment about America.
Rome IS crazy about America's money.
Rome IS crazy about America's money.
the recitation of the rosary to see Christ with Mary's eyes"
What is this all about?
It's a title. I'm not too hot about "your honor" for some of these scumbag judges, but, what are you gonna do?
You don't like "Holy Father"? Call him "Pope."
That's almost as offensive to me. Would Pope be ok?
I don't ever see an occassion to be in his presence but if I were would Sir be ok?
No it would not be OK -- chiefly because it would paint you as being bumptious to the point of rudeness. Would it stick in your throat to call a Frenchman "Monsieur" or a German "Herr"? Would it do violence to your conscience to call the Queen of England "Your Majesty"? Are you too pure to address a letter to your congressman as "The Honorable Jackson Blowhard"?
If your detestation for the office of Catholic pontiff is such that you can't bring yourself to observe the small courtesies of polite society (you have no problem with expecting me to address your own clergy as "Reverend", I'm guessing), then please stay home and save yourself from the assaults of this sinful world.
Acually, you would be corrected if you did. Where I worship there is no distinction between clergy and laity.
The difference would be with my conscience regarding what I see as a blasphemous title versus a secular title.
What's blasphemous about it?
 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
And when Jesus prayed to the Father he called Him Holy. I reserve this name for Him alone.
 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
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