I think we were all saddened by the recent revelations coming out of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigations of the extent of the child sexual abuse committed by clergymen over 70 a year period. The plight of the victims, as well as the ineffectual handling of those accusations, are a sobering testament for everyone to guard against sexual weaknesses
in oneself and others.
We also know that, even though the Church has made great strides in combating this since the Dallas Accords of 2003, we have seen in Universities and sports teams, in Hollywood and in Politics, every manner of sexual failing that are still rife in every area of human life.
If we stand back and look at the whole frightening mosaic of sexual dysfunction in our Western culture, we have to ask if something bigger is not happening, something on a major metaphysical level.
I am speaking about the Demonic. We learn from Holy Scripture that there are created entities in the Universe that are wholly of a spiritual nature (they have no bodies); we also know that God created them to be good. They are what are called ‘Angels’ or ‘Messengers’. Some of these Angelic beings, having free will, turned against God and where cast out of heaven. Reportedly, this conflict emerged when the Incarnation became known. Because of our evolutionary development and our connections to other mammals, Human Life is considered a lesser form of life when compared with the pure Spiritual Life of Angels. Yet God loves us so much that He sent us His Son, as a human being, to save us from our sinful ways. This was too much for Lucifer (Latin for “Light Bearer”) and others who objected to the Divine one taking material shape and bypassing the Angelic order. These Demons, or Devils, as they were now called, still have great intelligence and tremendous powers; but they are against God and determined to destroy the human project.
The present crisis in the Church has roots that go back many years. The sexual ethic of Christianity was always one that was very demanding. Society basically mirrored this Christian ethic that was shared by the three main Christian Branches: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. There were always theological differences between these branches, but not
so much on the level of ethics. This was shattered in the 20th century, beginning in the 1960’s.
With the Sexual Revolution in the 60’s, everything changed. The individual person and their decision about what is right and what is wrong became central, particularly in the area of sexual ethics. This wholesale abandonment of the wisdom of the ages, I believe, was part of the demonic enterprise that would affect the Church deeply. Not all of this
change was bad, however. Part of this change was the emergence of women’s equal rights, which was a good development (with the major exception of the acceptance of abortion as a right). But evil often uses the camouflage of good to hide its purposes. St. Ignatius of Loyola in his ‘Spiritual Exercises’ reminds us that the individual is to keep an eye out for the “cola serpentine” or the “serpent’s tail” even in the good we might choose to do.
So with the new principle that the teaching of the Scriptures and the Church counts for nothing, and that it is up to me to decide what is right and what is wrong, a whole host of evils was unleashed on our world, including on the Church where celibacy began to mean “whatever I want to do is ok”. One of the mantras of the 60’s (beside the a historical “don’t trust anyone over 30!”) is that if it feels good, it is good. This, of course, is a disastrous first principle for a modern sexual ethics. When the explosion of evil conduct began, a slight corrective was added: if it feels good, it is good if between consenting adults. This became the only agreed upon overriding principle, only introduced decades later.
So the stage was set in the world at large, and in the Church as well, for disaster, even among the people who should have been the guardians of the Moral Tradition.
I hasten to point out, however, that this happened only in the case of a small minority. Most priests and religious did not fall into this evil ethics. Nor am I saying that the ‘devil did this’ and absolve the fallen of the responsibility of their actions. The Evil One can only set the table of perdition; it cannot force anyone sit down and eat.
What we need to return to in our civil society is the teaching of Christ and our religious tradition regarding ethics. The Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church has guided us for thousands of years. It is somewhat arrogant for us to claim that these laws of God are now obsolete because I say so.
We need humility and a respect for the objective truth of the Word of God to guide us through all the difficulties of life. This is not easy, but the alternatives are so destructive that it becomes imperative to heed this call of God back to the way of life.
The demons are powerless against us if we freely choose the ways of God.