Tom McMahon describes this commentary as "a two-part paper on my personal views of a dysfunctional institution and persons who are living within its boundaries". The news daily, wherever we happen to be in the world, suggests the dysfunction is becoming worse. Tom suggests there is hope though...
Every morning before I get out of bed I go through a simple ritual. I stretch my arms and legs to experience that are still mine to control. I invite myself to another day of the glorious gift of life and I am grateful. 60 years ago when in seminary I had decided that one quality contact a day with a fellow human being would be my goal and if more came that would be wonderful. Mom always spoke of the gift of life. By the way when I write my chief reader is my complex self. If others read me I hope I offer food for their thought. I prefer dialogue-seeking, not controversy. Jesus was/is the master at sharing; the master shows no one-upmanship. I keep the historical Jesus in mind as I stretch my legs and when I write.
A dysfunctional "catholic family system"...
As I entrained back to San Jose from Stanford Hospital I conceived this article experiencing a peacefulness about the corporal works of mercy and a contrasting personal need to respond to news reports that mention such names as Jerry Sandusky, Jerold Linder and Will Lynch, and William Lynn. My day revolved around real persons and I had a mixed sense of joy and sadness. I am sad for the men about the way they have been raised here in America. The four males mentioned are involved in sexual abuse and have been on the front page of our national newspapers. Next week I shall name three women upon whom my reflections gave me inner peace.
As a once ordained priest (1954) and a mental health therapist (1977) trained in Virginia Satir's Family Systems, as well as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell's "symbol approach to life and crisis", I appreciate female and male whom I mention as norminative members of a catholic family system that is presently very dysfunctional. In reality there is no such experience as a mechanical system. Dysfunctionality is basic to individuals who dot the "is" and cross the "ts" in living within a system, whereas the very same system can coexist with individual members who function well in the very same life experience. The health of a system depends on the spiritual well-being of the individual person. The tyrannical power house father who is out of control fits today's Roman leadership. Missing is the healing mother. The institutional family system of Roman Catholicism is in a dysfunctional downward tail spin. There are numberless humanly well-balanced members who are undergoing a fair amount of confusion. I do find that women appear to be more balanced and functional. Having been raised in what could have been a dysfunctional family with the early death of my Dad I am well aware of the powerful influence of the godly woman who wears no title or distinctive garb.
The stage upon which I display my personal thoughts is set by Psychotherapist Richard Sipe. I quote below from his presentation at Santa Clara University in May 2012. For the present I am not into an analysis of Sipe's talk. I am interested in his description of the privileged culture of the all-male priesthood, the obvious dysfunctional core of a system in meltdown. I see the abuse issue presently enveloping the priest and bishop while now fast moving far beyond the clergy.
Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy: Context and Causes by A.W. Richard Sipe.
Tom now offers a brief analysis of individuals. Tom holds that in the on-going process of evolution the hunter-gatherer male is socially regressive compared to the domesticated female. First we will look at the four above named males.
I am unable to ascertain with certainty his religious background. I assume him to be of Polish or Czech background, possibly a Roman Catholic. Religion here is irrelevant. I am pleased to see the spotlight on a layman; with the heavy interest on Roman clergy another hidden box within Pandora's Box is fast opening. The discovery is ugly and a cover is torn off the criminality of worldwide male sexual abuse. The tragedy is more than children's involvement. We are a culture of abuse inherited from the Medieval days and heavily disguised under the banner of god and religion. The new box has an untold depth and will cut deeply into the very heart of Western Culture populations. Ignorance of the goodness of human sexuality is universal while the media and corporate world teases us with superficial sexual trivia to make money The Roman institution wallows in abuse. Jerry Sandusky will go to jail yet this will not eliminate the massive abuses worldwide, and within our local neighborhoods. Few are capable of teaching the nobility of sexual experiences, a complete reversal of a Roman catholic mindset since the Middle Ages. Women, perhaps best suited for the role having had the experience of creating and nurturing life may take up that duty but first there need be public forums to educate all adults, as well as children, according to their age ability to appreciate the awesomeness of sexuality. We need leave the academic world to seek among simple ordinary people an understanding of the complexity and simplicity of human sexuality. In my nearly sixty years of educating on human sexuality the subject has been the most avoided by the faithful who in community shared greatly with me. We have layer upon layer of ego problems and booby trap areas as we launch into personal discussion of the deep mystery of human sexuality. Celibates and virgins should politely yield to the mature. Women need to step forward to claim their rightful role as educators in life.
I'll let my friend George Bouchey from New Jersey lead off. Concerning any change in the RC with Lynn's arrest, George writes to Katholica [to whom Catholica owes a debt for borrowing their name and changing the K to a C], an American chat room in which Tom shares. George writes:
There may be some changes, but they will not be substantive and they will not be Reform. The Absolute Authority is much too good at keeping their position, and no one can tell them what to do. So Lynn was convicted? Where are the bishops and archbishops and cardinals who have all the authority? What is the pope upset about? In the end, whenever that may be, nothing will have changed. The episcopacy who govern the RCC and are the official voice of the RCC will still be the Absolute Authority. The changes will be Window Dressing, and the bishops will still be in charge. Priests will be more important than Communities, so parishes will close. pax – george
William Lynn is the classic autistic scapegoat for bishops who commit crimes. Any delight on the part of SNAP that they have nailed someone who is responsible is misleading. This "Monsignor Lynn-type" is a dime-a-dozen dispensable automaton — the straw man who takes the fall and really doesn't know what went wrong. Lynn is dispensable. If he goes to jail the bishops will never visit him. He is a victim of years of seminary training where blind obedience is still the voice of his god. His true crime is being a front man, a non-person who is a titled functionary in a dysfunctional system. Richard Sipe correctly accuses the seminary system as being the source today of clerical criminality. George Bouchey is right when he speaks of absolute episcopal authority, which may prove to be their Achilles' heel. The Roman "house of cards" is collapsing and the supposed shepherds are fleeing the flock, so as to save themselves. The lay "children" of the dysfunctional family are becoming educated and they are growing up. Monarchial old Rome will have serious difficulties existing in democracies. The issue at stake today is how long will the total collapse take? Much will contend on the meaningful education of adults.
Let's let Lord Acton have the final say on this:
"They may have all said it at one time or another but it was Lord Acton (1834-1902), British historian, who originally wrote: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man." www.bartleby.com/66/9/2709.html
Jerold Linder and William Lynch
The Mercury News is treating us to a blow-by-blow accounting as to who is on trial and what crime is being examined. Linder is a Jesuit who was pummeled by Lynch at the Sacred Heart retirement community when the latter accused the priest of molesting him 35 years ago. The judicial system is on trial as to it reliability to carry out justice in an atmosphere that demands priest molesters must be stopped. A vigilante mob cries for a lynching: "Get every god damn priest to whom I was forced into going into his confessional box as a five year old by Sister Hebenebins of the Double Cross" ... The institution is paying heavily for the shallow, automated education of its young. Remember it was Pius the Tenth in 1910 who introduced children's first communion and, not knowing anything about child psychology, they were stupid to force kids into a dark confessional box to admit to sin, a subject about which no child had the slightest sound idea. It's payback time!
Victims will find that vengeance is not the healing answer to their pain...
I have been gone from the Roman Catholic priesthood for 31 years, a family man with two adult sons and five grandchildren yet I know that because I wore a roman collar and was called "father", and heard kids' confessions by the barrel full (up until, for me, Vatican Two) I still bear the mark of Cain. "Revenge" will be the battle cry and even though 7% of the clergy are thought to have offended the whole crew of the Bark of Peter is branded and must go ... and ... when having accomplished this task victims will find that vengeance is not the healing answer to their pain.
Cheer up, human reader. I just got word that Jesus the human being is alive and is on his way, risen again from the dead ashes of the Middle Ages and very willing to join in any conversation on how to save the world. How about if you gather a group at your home? Start with five or six and read Luke's Emmaus Story. Next week I will start off with a story I want to tell him.
Tom McMahon, the boy from 15th St, San Francisco who happened to meet John the 23rd in 1961. 03Jul2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?