Tom McMahon provided this personal update on his health and introduction to today's commentary: "A personal to my readers: Since my June 30th stroke I have tested myself as to what damage still remains. Can I still think clearly? Today's medical examination offers that all symptoms will pass away. I do tire. I am driven to pursue the connection from early Roman psychology to the present day clerical sexual abuse and its cover up. The following is my fourth revision of an original paper and I can see a need for more, nature willing. Readers be patient as I need be with myself; every day I glean more information in talking with others that helps complete the mosaic. We are at a point of history bigger than the revolt of Martin Luther and we need proceed with painstaking care. We are on the trail of an elusive psychological link in the haystack of 1700 years of history. I do appreciate feedback as to my clarity and your understanding."
Some history that helps explain the present...
There is a massive hole in the history surrounding the Fall of the Roman Empire, usually dated at 476 c.e. and Charlemagne's coronation as king of the Franks in 771 c.e.. We have dates and facts yet lack an appreciation of the civil mayhem and human psychology. The Visigoths have sacked Rome in 410 and Attila the Hun in 452 and Barbarian hordes have dismantled the security system of the once powerful Empire. The gods have failed to protect Rome with religions and priesthoods in general disrepair. This uncertainty effects the power structure of the priestly group and what they need teach to remain in power. Civil chaos reigns while there are still bastions of power with religion intimately involved in the political. In 330 Constantine had transferred power to Byzantium, aka Constantinople, leaving the political power of Rome to wealthy families who vied to put their man in leadership, the office of pope. 109 popes are listed from 461 to 1000. Political corruption is endemic to the power of the papacy; space limited, I follow with only one quote from De Rosa. The Christian religion finds itself in bed with sinister people. In THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY by Rodney Stark a growth chart (pg 7) shows 1,000 members living in the Roman Empire in the year 40 c.e., 0. 0017% of the population; by 350 c.e. Christians are 56.5% of the roman population, 33,882,008 in number. Power has been transferred from a once insignificant persecuted people to a well-established political leadership. Are the teachings of Emmaus now those of the Roman papacy? What is the psychology of the honest Christian priest? And is there a difference in hierarchical thinking between priest among people and leadership?
From VICARS OF CHRIST (Chapter 3 Papal Pornography, pg. 47): "15 miles from Rome, high in the Alban Hills there dwelt in the 10th century the famous Conti — the counts Alberic of Tusculum. These war lords took complete control of papal elections. Seven popes came from this one family, three in succession and almost without exception they helped shape Roma Deplorabilis, a Rome of Shame." Pope Theophylactus was ten years old and the whores of Rome controlled the papal dynasty. The power of the Christian Church is in evil hands. In fairness one has to ask if any of the clergy remain faithful to the mind of Jesus. Known so often as the whore of Babylon the religion will always produce the likes of St. Francis of Assisi who, by the way was never a priest, never said Mass, but was always a Jesus servant of the poor.
Here I set up a "straw man", an imaginary priest of the 5-6th century who has survived with a clear remembrance of early Christian practices, a rural person who has kept the tradition unadulterated by power. He sees himself as one who gathers the faithful on Sunday to give thanks for life; he is a simple member of a Christian community, unencumbered with theologies like Trinity, that are being introduced by way of the monastic system. Is it possible that such a simple clergyman existed during the Middle Ages? In future essays of this series we will see that such persons did exist, with actual names, defensive of the clerical marriage state and loyal in spirit to the Gospels.
The monastery offered order and distance from everyday problems...
Is it too early to ask: what is present in the Roman thinking of this period that has connection to the abusive clerical practices of the 21st century? Is there any psychological link that lies hidden in the modern clerical mind that might be active in the priest of the year 610? Briefly and simply I suggest the system fostered fear of real life and suppression of sexual and genital feelings. The monastery offered order and distance from everyday problems.
Remember that women and children are property and responsibilities, certainly with some exceptions, perhaps like our straw man surviving in rural communities. What was taught in these simple communities … the beatitudes? how to properly dress for saying Mass? Is striving for simplicity an answer to a most complex experience? Can I offer clinical historical evidence as to what they were thinking? No, I will attempt, to trace common experiences that have survived in the psyche of the clerical male. What was it like for a simple secular priest to be a servant priest of Jesus in an institution governed by distant and high powered authoritarians? What psychology did the individual develop to survive in the midst of corrupting power, especially as society developed into manorial feudalism if he wanted to stay active for the good of people? Was there an underground church as in the days of Yugoslavia's Tito? I suggest that the Spirit of Jesus remained alive where two or three gathering in his name and that Spirit has been called forth again and again, esp. by Vatican Two.
I myself am a classic traceable model who is produced by a system which is initiated in chaos centuries ago with a key plan of it own institutional survival. This clerical system survived the Middle Ages, was shored up into renewed power by the Council of Trent (1542) and now finds itself fast disintegrating since the clarion call to humanism was sounded within the Catholic Church by John the 23rd and Vatican Two. I do not attribute to Vatican Two the force that broke the old European feudal system; the forces of freedom of the human being have their roots in the Magna Carta and subsequent major revolutions. It is possible that a decent priest upon ordination is caught schizophrenically between two opposing elements, the power of the church-bishop using people, clergy, and property to maintain its own power structure and the spiritual/material protection of the people from civil and religious abuse. It depends today on what is going on in seminaries. The newly ordained will need to mature in appreciating the medieval system in which the present day church works; somewhere he will mature (allow the energy of the system to sink in) or he will remain immature sealed off in the cocoon we call clericalism. The mature will experience Fight or Flight, the human response system of every red-blooded creature whose senses are attacked. We have the classic case of Washington D.C. priests, protecting their people and opposing the oppressive might of Paul the 6th's Humanae Vitae — the mind controlling birth control edict. Official Rome kicks out the priests who are protective of people to keep its reputation as 'ultimate teacher' intact. This protection of people was the story of my 26 years as a Roman priest.
The mission of Jesus was to set people free...
The mission of Jesus was to set people free, a task bottled up in the early Middle Ages by wanton criminals who took over the outward structure of Christianity while leaving behind the vision of the Nazarene Master during the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Using the outward appearance of Christianity while employing the Roman tools of suppression, fear, and the ignorance of the general population, powerful figures have manipulated the common people by building an oppressive system of mind control. Every child was taught sinfulness of self, fear of God, and the Catholic tools to appease an angry deity. In 590 c.e. the effective civil leader and Patriarch of the West, monk and Pope, Gregory the Great declares: "sexual desire is sinful; its only purpose is to foster children". Fear and suppression will invade the minds of every member of church hierarchy, bishop to sub deacon; the seeds of destruction of clerical marriage are planted in the mind fields of war and civil upheaval while peace and harmony with God are to be found in the isolation and solitude of the monastery. Death by the barbarian sword is close as well as eternal salvation in heaven if one obeys the authoritarians. Women are property and can be, must be, put aside for the good of the soul. Fear of women is engrained in spiritual clerical DNA. Seminaries will be formed in the 1600's to purge the priest of sin and to promote the message of sin and salvation and how evil is the world.
For myself and without reference to women the first moderns publicly to break free of the oppressive system were priests like Dominican Friar Yves Congar who organized resistance to tyrannical Nazi authority under the banner of the worker priests of Paris; Congar once silenced by Pius the 12th was called forth by John the 23rd to be the architect of the Second Vatican Council. Fear and suppression had no role in the thinking of Angelo Roncalli and Yves Congar; they were embodiments of the thinking of Jesus Christ who knew encounter with the world was the only genuine manner to spread the news of the goodness of human kind. The world was good. God's kingdom and the evolutionary results of Vatican Two opened the flood gates of feminine activity in the Roman Catholic Church, the woman no longer mere property and well on her way to being established as a human person. Little did Roncalli and Congar know they played a role in keying open the psychological lock that had imprisoned the female since the days of Constantine. Could we in the 1960's imagine Hilary Clinton as 2009 Secretary of State? The forward march of women is essential to human equality. Why women seek to be ordained into a formalized dying Roman priesthood escapes me. A servant priesthood of the laity is where Jesus is … and Jesus is on the move away from old medieval Europe and its structures.
After the 1960's as I humanly matured while in the service of the Roman Catholic Church system I became aware of the oppression that prevailed among the clergy, a fear of being human and I wondered where this came from. I was innocent of life when I entered the seminary system at age 13 yet had available the life of my priest-uncle who never showed fear having survived the great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. As a boy I saw the suppression of his human sexual feelings. My uncle Tuck needed to prove to himself that he was a human man not just a priest in a clerical slot. My uncle was a human servant, a strange combination of ordained sacramental priest and genuine human being. I would witness his death, a fearless man very much in love with his God yet literally rejecting the package deal of the clerical system and the sacraments of his estranged church. He had a psychology of defiance of power. Life to him was more precious as was the choice of my mother. Tuck was free from medieval fear and suppression. The pieces of a gigantic puzzle were falling into place, hopefully the mosaic now nearing completion in my 80th year of life.
Keep in mind Muhammad is born in 570 c.c. … and here's a replay from Wikipedia(complete with links):
Licinius' defeat represented the passing of old Rome, and the beginning of the role of the Eastern Roman Empire as a center of learning, prosperity, and cultural preservation. Constantine rebuilt the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinopolis ("Constantine's City" or Constantinople in English), and issued special commemorative coins in 330 to honor the event. He provided the "Second Rome" with a Senate and civic offices similar to those of Rome. The new city was protected by the alleged True Cross , the Rod of Moses and other holy relics, though a cameo now at the Hermitage Museum also represented Constantine crowned by the tyche of the new city.
Note the True Cross and relics which will play a heavy role in the Western Church of the late Middle Ages.
I close with a brief introduction to: Charles Martel, b 688, his son Pepin the Short, b.714, and grandson Charlemagne born in 742 and dead in 814. Their span of 126 years brings about the rise and establishment of kingdoms, fiefdoms, townships, powerful monasteries and schools of learning, defeat of the onslaugthing Moslems, the end of Barbaric tribal power amidst continuing upheaval settling into the feudal system of the Middle Ages. The union of the old Roman Empire (Italy today) and Germanic-Frankish (Germany and France today) tribal territory will be brought about under Charlemagne and known as the Holy Roman Empire. The myth of the divine appointment of king and pope is underway … and where is that illusive psychological link? One might be tempted to say it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus that they can't keep in the Middle Ages tomb.
Tom McMahon, investigating from San Jose, Ca. (11/07/09)
What are your thoughts on this commentary?