Liberal Catholicism's Just Deserts - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Liberal Catholicism’s Just Deserts
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The very liberals who wanted the sexual revolution to enter the Catholic Church are suddenly shocked at its effects on the priesthood.

After Vatican II, the American Catholic church very stupidly took the advice of the secular culture and adopted a permissive attitude toward sexuality. “Loosen up,” “Don’t be judgmental,” “Accept nontraditional types into the priesthood,” the secular culture outside and inside the church told the American bishops. And they did.

Seminaries soon became havens for sexual oddballs. Conservative Catholics predicted that this collapse in seminary admissions standards would lead to tragedy. But liberal Catholics — heady with the “fresh air” in the church and scoffing at the old morality — dismissed these traditionalists as cranks out of touch with the Zeitgeist.

True, the introduction of moral liberalism into the American Catholic church is not the only cause of the pedophilia problem in the church. Man’s power to choose evil freely is the primary explanation for scandal. But moral liberalism — which tends to rationalize and even sanctify the effects of Original Sin — abets the spread of sexual sin in the church.

Psychologist William Coulson knows this well. In the 1960s, he counseled priests and nuns to “get in touch with their feelings,” as he told me in an interview for a 1997 story in the “San Francisco Faith” newspaper. “My theories made priests and nuns feel good about being bad.”

Working with his mentor Carl Rogers, an icon of 1960s relativistic non-directive therapy, Coulson conducted “sensitivity” training and “self-esteem” workshops for the Jesuit Order and several other religious groups eager to absorb the New Morality.

“Once we began to peel the onion at these workshops, there was no end to the shocking things people would say,” he said. “They became persuaded of this subjective theory of morality which says that the highest morality is the one you locate within you. And after a while these religious forgot about the teachings of the church.”

“After our workshop at Alma [the Jesuit seminary then in California], one of the young Jesuits wrote, ‘Never in my life before that group experience had I experienced ME so intently,” he said.

“The Franciscans were so enamored with our psychology that they introduced it to Saint Anthony’s seminary in Santa Barbara. Years later, 11 or 12 friars were accused of molesting 34 high school boys. I’m afraid we planted the seeds and they carried the seeds to the next generation and they germinated.”

Both Coulson and Rogers later repudiated their relativistic theories. “I greatly underestimated the reality of evil,” said Rogers. “I hope Rogerian theory goes down the drain.”

But the liberal culture in the American Catholic church — aping the moral collapse in the secular order — did not reject those theories. The bishops continued to accept deviants into the seminaries, telling appalled conservative Catholics that God wants the church to use “broken people” as instruments.

Now the church is paying for its betrayal of Catholic tradition. The remedy to its problems is to recover that tradition, not further weaken it.

But that is precisely what the liberal elite — with crocodile tears blurring their vision — are demanding of the church. They call on the church not to enforce the priestly vow of chastity with pre-Vatican II gravity, of course, but to abolish it.

“Celibacy is an onerous burden that can easily distort a person’s psyche,” says writer Andrew Sullivan in “Time” magazine. No, it is sexual immorality that distorts psyches. The pedophiles who entered the priesthood weren’t celibate before ordination or afterwards.

Sullivan says “many sexually conflicted men gravitate to the priesthood precisely because it promises to put a straightjacket on their compulsions and confusions.” No, they gravitated to the post-60s priesthood because the newly liberated church wouldn’t put a straightjacket on their compulsions. Cultured deviants flocked to orders like the Jesuits because they knew the American church’s new “enlightened” ethos was forgiving toward sexual irregularity.

“How can a church that preaches the impermissibility of so many forms of consensual, adult sex simultaneously tolerate, ignore or cover up the sexual abuse of children by its own priests?” asks Sullivan.

Very easily: It hasn’t preached the impermissibility of “so many forms of consensual, adult sex” for decades. Rather, it largely accepted the anything-goes sexual revolution and is now facing the consequences of that corruption.

George Neumayr was recently a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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