Yes I have seen this a lot, and there are a lot of new age ideas about bridging all the religions together. But they ignore many of the contradicting aspects between them.
I am not talking about New Age anything. Go look into those names I mentioned and you will find that they have no relation to New Age religion - instead, you will find that Thich Nhat Hahn is one of the most well-respected Zen Buddhist monks in the world, and that Thomas Merton was, before his passing, one of the most respected Catholic monks in the world. These were not men reinventing their religions, but men who looked deeply into their ancient traditions and found, despite outward differences, that the interior of their practices were the same - that both religions, individually, can bring the same benefits to whoever practices them.
Again, the contradictory aspects you mention are only apparent, surface level - they are contradictory only in that they use different language, which is no contradiction at all. If I say 2+2=4, for you to say 2x2=4 is not a contradiction of my statement. So say these sages of their respective traditions - and they should know, don't you think, after having spent an entire lifetime of devoted study and practice?
This is not New Age. This is recognizing the ultimate unity of ancient traditions as they have been
and as they remain
What the usually end up with is nothing more than what you get in secular society anyway.
And this brings up the question of what is secular. I'll give an example:
In Tibetan Buddhism there is something called a snow leopard. These are people who are enlightened, but have never heard any teaching. They are rare, but do exist. Are these people secular? I suppose we could call them secular, yet they have also attained deep spiritual understanding.
This secular vs. non-secular is largely unimportant. However one achieves understand is beside the point - what matters is that understanding is had at all. This discussing semantics, and nothing of substance.
If you want to argue that Buddhists and Catholics use different semantics, that they chose to express themselves with different language, you are only pointing out the obvious - you are pointing out something Catholics and Buddhists have already pointed out and commented upon: and their conclusion is that the differences in language are largely unimportant.
Be nice to your neighbor, don't beat your wife, respect your coworkers, pay your taxes, help the needy, ect. You don't need any religion to get this far, so what does bridging Catholicism with Buddhism do?
No, you do not necessarily need
either of those traditions. So if you don't, great: bless you on your path.
However, do you imagine that these traditions might at least be useful
, at least to some? Can't you imagine that for many people a teacher is helpful? Can't you imagine that the rituals and practices of religion help some people on their path? I sure can.
And that's the point: it doesn't matter if you pursue a religious tradition, or if you pursue being a better person without one. What matters is that you actively work toward being a better person. So, there is no sense berating a spiritual tradition for helping people to become better simply because it is possible for them to become better without the tradition. If the tradition helps someone, great. If not, great.
There is no twelve links of co-arising in Catholicism, so that would be completely ignored. There is no four noble truths in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. There is no samadhi of the sphere of non-thought in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. What you end up with is a watered down up Buddhism.
I really do recommend Thich Nhat Hahn's Living Buddha, Living Christ
. He specifically
discusses Catholic practices and compares them to specific Buddhist practices, examining the remarkably close relationship.
But either way, all you have done here is expose the well known and uncontested fact that various religions use different language. Is there any reason you ignored my suggestion to recall the finger-and-the-moon saying? Taking that wisdom to heart should eradicate this misconception you have - because Thay certainly disagrees with what you call "watered down Buddhism".
And to use the phrase "non-thought in Catholicism" is simply ignorance. Must I list the long line of universally recognized brilliant Catholic philosopher-theologians? And you call it Catholic non-thought? You should know better.
Again, go read what a Buddhist monk actually has to say about Catholicism before you make assumptions about what they might say.