Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Tragically Wrong Mystery

   Recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that it was a "Mystery," why priests and church officials sexually abused and raped children.  So, to this day, he does not understand why the abuse happened and no doubt, why it was covered up by bishops.  His absence of understanding is confounding.  And if we contrast his choice of the word, "Mystery," which in this case, means, "ignorance," to the spiritual meaning of the word, which he uses, e.g., when he says, "the Mystery of faith," we are even more deeply confounded.    

   The Spiritual meaning of "Mystery" is the Inexhaustible, Absolute Fullness of Reality that is God.  It is the Living Fullness that we encounter and that lovingly embraces us when we believe in God.  To help us understand the contrast of meanings:  the more we know about anything of space/time, the less ignorance there is.  The more we know about God, the more there is to know about him and ourselves.    

   As we progress in spiritual maturity, we become more aware of God's presence and intentions, more aware of the wondrous Mystery living within us.  We carry our awareness of God with us at all times and in everything we do.  (Cf. Contemplation, and Contemplation in Action on the PRAYER page.)  Here's where Benedict's ignorance becomes confounding.  Given that he is a prayerful man living in the light of God's presence within him, how could he be unaware of the reasons why priests and bishops did what they did?

  Here's a clue.  Recently, the National Catholic Reporter reported Benedict's directions to some visiting American bishops.  Concerning sexual abuse, he said, "It is my hope that the church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society."  How do you make a conscientious effort to confront something that you don't understand?  And how do you therefore hold yourself out as a positive example to others?  The terrible truth is that the only reason the church authorities are now handling the tragedy to the extent that they are, is that they got caught.   

   Everybody except the pope (and how many bishops?) knows that there is something horribly wrong with the church's clerical authority system.  As a retired psychotherapist, I am familiar with the defense mechanism called Denial.  Simply put, it is the inability or refusal to recognize something because we cannot cope with it.  This defense requires a great deal of energy to keep it in place.  Is the pope suffering from a psychological refusal to see the truth?  Is this condition so powerful that it is blocking out his spiritual sensitivity to the presence and intentions of God within himself and within the whole church?  Is the energy he is using to keep himself in denial helping to enervate him?

    Whatever the answers to the above questions, my conclusion is that at this moment of history, we are spiritually without credible leadership from the hierarchy and pope.  We simply cannot trust anything they say, unless they first include the laity and theologians in whatever the subject may be.  And I include here, the nuns.  Lacking such a collaborative system of discerning the truth in today's signs of the times, we are own our own.  This is one important reason why I am writing this blog.  Spiritually we never stand still; we either move forward or backward.  We have to use our energy every day to strengthen our sense of the faith so we can discern and experience God ever more seriously and effectively, (see EXPERIENCING GOD TODAY). We are on our own but not alone.  We have one another.  Let's walk together to discern the truth within the spiritual meaning of Mystery, so we can prayerfully work to avoid the tragic meaning of mystery that the pope recently gave the word.   




1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. When I first heard the pope's comment about the "mystery", I, too, thought, wrong mystery! I also agree with your comment about the clerical authority system. I also believe there is something seriously wrong with the process for accepting individuals as priests. I know some excellent, caring, humble and genuinely committed priests, but I also know more who are doing a job-- who fail to understand that they need to assist God's people in living out God's work in the world. The mystery to me is how so many clerics don't seem to understand that.