What does the Catholic Church teach about Astrology?
It’s superstitious – and potentially dangerous – nonsense, made all the more palatable through New Age proselytizing.
There isn’t the slightest bit of scientific evidence that the stars and planets influence our daily lives. Even if they did – if, say, their gravitational fields induced headaches or something – the time and date of one’s birth would be entirely inconsequential, yet astrology is based on calculations based on the time and date of one’s birth.
The foolishness of this can be demonstrated by observing the lives of two people born at the same time. Their lives are as different as those of people born under different signs.
Newspapers do their readers a disservice when they print horoscopes. You might not believe in the predictions, but millions of credulous readers do. The more they believe in them, the more insulated they are from the truths of Christianity. To a large extent, today’s widespread belief in astrology is a consequence of the loss of belief in Christianity. As G.K. Chesterton noted, when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything. Astrology can lead to other superstitions and eventually to an entire loss of faith.
For Scripture’s condemnation of astrology, read Isaiah 2:6, 47:13 – 15; Deuteronomy 18:9 – 14; Leviticus 19:31; acts 13:4 – 12.
There are Catholics and others, though, who claim that the three wise men were astrologers. In saying this they claim the New Testament accepts astrology as legitimate. Not really. The wise men who followed the star to the infant Christ (Matt 2:1 – 12) were called in Latin magi from which we get “magician.” The Latin word is derived from the Greek magoi. It could have referred to the ancient version of a snake oil salesman, but Matthew doesn’t use it pejoratively.
All we can tell from his account is that these men, whose number isn’t known but which tradition sets at three, were skilled in what was then called astrology, though to translate magi today as “astrologers” is to give a wrong sense.
They were more like proto-astronomers, not casters of horoscopes for the rich or gullible. An ancient belief held that each person was represented by a star which appeared first at his birth. Given that premise, the biblical account deals not with astrology as displayed in today’s newspapers, but with a primitive form of astronomy.