Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spiritual Healing for Catholic Abuse Victims Means Growing Beyond Vatican Catholicism

I offer the following prescription from Fr. Tom Doyle describing the route for spiritual healing of Catholic abuse victims. I do this for a number of reasons. First the Vatican's response is creating more victims because the Vatican is making it very obvious that real victims were never their concern in dealing with sexual abuse. Second, although the Church has offered victims psychological counseling, the Church itself has never dealt with the ramification of the spiritual issues abuse causes in victims and how that impacts psychological health. Finally, the response to this crisis from laity is very often abusive in itself. There is a reason well meaning laity become a part of the problem rather than the solution. That reason is because they too are being victimized by their Catholic belief structure and can not afford to recognize, much less deal with, the whole betrayal issue which clerical sexual abuse and it's systematic cover up is all about.

This is an extract from a much longer talk Fr. Tom gave at the 2008 SNAP convention. When reading this, keep in mind that this same process is happening in any Catholic who grew up with the current teachings about the priesthood, the Church, God, and sexuality. The betrayal may not be on the same fundamental level as a victim of physical sexual abuse, but the dynamic is still operative to some extent in most all Catholics.

"The traditional therapeutic responses to sexual abuse trauma do not always provide relief from spiritual trauma. Anecdotal experience with Catholic clergy abuse victims over the past two decades has shown that most counseling situations did not respond to the spiritual trauma.

When the institutional Church has responded to victims it generally has offered psychological but not spiritual counseling. Indeed it appears that Church authorities, all of whom are clerics, were hardly cognizant of the nature and effects of the spiritual trauma. There is no available evidence that any Church office, from the Vatican to national bishops' conferences to local dioceses ever put into place programs or policies to assess the spiritual damage and consequently to respond to it. The late Pope John Paul II publicly acknowledged victims on several occasions but offered only prayer as a healing remedy:

'Therefore, I fully share your sorrow and your concern, especially your concern for the victims so seriously hurt by these misdeeds�.So then, venerable brothers, you are faced with two levels of serious responsibility: in relation to the clerics through whom scandal comes and their innocent victims, but also in relation to the whole of society systematically threatened by scandal and responsible for it�.

I ask you to reflect together with the priests, who are your co-workers, and with the laity, and to respond with all the means at your disposal. Among these means, the first and most important is prayer: ardent, humble, confident prayer.'[39]

"I have been close to you in suffering and prayer, commending to the "God of all comfort" those who have been victims of sexual abuse on the part of clerics or religious."[40] As the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us � conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace � are called to embrace the "Mysterium Crucis" and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness."[41]

The late pope's call to prayer is mingled with his attempt to shift blame to the secular society. The promise of prayer for victims is really a long-practiced tactic for distancing the cleric from the person requesting help or relief. In this case the pope's words have provided no relief for victims and consequently are meaningless.

There is no available tradition or font of information about healing the spiritual wounds of clergy sexual abuse. Consequently one can only look at the damage and its sources and respond to each aspect of the trauma. It goes without saying that any therapist working with victims should be well aware of the idiosyncratic nature of sexual abuse by clergy and by Catholic clergy in particular.

The first level of response should be to the victim's self-destructive belief system. The immediate concern should be the victims' concept of a priest. He or she needs to be aided and supported in shedding the magical notion that the priest is somehow the personal representative of God or the stand-in for God. The dependence of the victim on the priest and on the clerical system needs to be first challenged and then replaced with a deeply rooted sense of personal spiritual autonomy. This "adult spirituality" of the victim-priest relationship will bring freedom from the misplaced guilt that burdens so many victims. (This is certainly clinically true, but the Church itself, cannot afford to take this route because it undercuts virtually the entire Catechism when it comes to the priesthood and sacramental system.)

De-mythologizing the concept of the priest necessarily leads to a re-imaging of the notion of God. This is perhaps the most fundamental and radical dimension of the healing process. Upon it hinges the victim's concept of Church, sin and even self. Catholic theology is rooted in a theistic notion of the Higher Power. God is a supernatural, personal being who controls all aspects of life. It is possible to move to a concept of God that does not lend itself to the toxic beliefs about guilt, suffering, sin and punishment.[42] Such a transition is easiest on the cognitive level but much more challenging to the emotions. Many victims are all too painfully aware of the personal devastation caused by the sexual abuse yet they continue to feel guilt because they have exposed a priest or sued a Church entity such as a diocese. This is all grounded in the irrational belief that God resides in a special way in the institutional Church.

Once a clergy abuse victim begins to accept a Higher Power that is non-judgmental, non-vindictive and not under the control of the ordained office-holders of the Church, he or she will be able to move to the next necessary level of healing which is separating the visible, institutional Church from the Higher Power.

This should include an unfolding of the mysterious emotional ties and reactions associated with the victim's relationship to the institutional Church. Once the variety of feelings are acknowledged it is perhaps time to cognitively examine the historical and doctrinal bases for the Church's contention that it was founded by God, is controlled by God through clerics and provides the only authentic source of spiritual security. At this stage the victims may be helped by reading one or more books that provide an objective and scholarly exposition of traditional Church teachings and traditions on the nature of the Church.[43] As they examine concept of the Higher Power they realize that what they have believed in and feared was not an authentic reality but someone else's vision of what god was all about.

Responding to the Loss of Religion.

The victim's anger at the Church and possibly at religion in general needs to be acknowledged and affirmed as a healthy response to the abuse. If it has not been done earlier in the recovery process this might be the appropriate time to examine the radical distinction between organized religion and spiritual security and strength. The toxic belief that God will be displeased if the victim feels anger towards the Church must be dispelled and replaced with a more realistic belief that the organized religious body has actually been a barrier to a secure relationship with the Higher Power. Victims attribute spiritual power to the visible Church because it has been presented as the only pathway to God. Most Catholics are never allowed to progress beyond a level of spiritual and religious development that is early-adolescent at best. The recovery process from clergy sexual abuse offers a unique opportunity for spiritual maturity. This maturity will provide the emotional security needed for whatever choices the victims makes about the place or religion, worship or a higher power in his or her life.

Affirming the Church's responsibility.

The institutional Catholic Church has thus far avoided accepting its responsibility for the culture of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up. Church authorities have made public apologies for "mistakes made" and have shifted the blame to others such as the media or the medical profession.[44] Yet no public statement has given evidence of a full awareness of the causality of clergy abuse or of the damage done to those abused.

Victim/survivors need to explore the substance of some of the official apologies and then come to an emotional as well as cognitive acceptance of the fact that the institution and its office holders will not because they cannot respond in a manner that would reflect full awareness and accepted responsibility. Some victims get "stuck" in an almost endless contentious process trying to get the official Church to realize the enormity of their actions. They need to come to a realization that the Church's narcissistic self-concept of a perfect society renders its leaders incapable of comprehending that the responsibility is rooted in the very core of the institutional Catholic Church.

The Church's responsibility is directly related to the process whereby it has educated and formed Catholics from childhood to adulthood. The victims need to be able to see this as effective pre-conditioning that is related not only to the grooming for the abuse itself but also for their subsequent guilt and shame in responding to the violation of their bodies and souls. (They also have to understand that experiencing this same conditioning is the reason their fellow laity turn on them and irrationally support what ever excuse the Vatican or a given bishop uses.)

A key aspect of this process is the concept of sexuality internalized by most Catholics. The guilt, shame and fear associated with it are responsible for much of the post-abuse trauma. Re-examining the Church-given sexual awareness can be a slow, difficult and often fear-laden process but it must be done in order to guide the recovering victim in the internalization of a healthier notion of sexuality.

Finding an authentic spirituality.

Most clergy abuse victims did not realize that they had a spiritual dimension to their being until it was taken from them. The final phase of healing involves the discovery of this spiritual dimension and the acceptance of an authentic, life-giving spirituality. God or the Higher Power is re-imaged from an omniscient super person to a source of power and love that is not shaped or limited by human conceptions. The traditional relationship with God was far too enmeshed with loyalty and obedience to the deity's self-styled earthly representatives. When this is abandoned there is room for the transition to a spiritual relationship with a Higher Power or even an institutional Church that is not a source of pain, fear and guilt but rather enhances life and provides joy and balance. This non-toxic spirituality requires a healthy sense of self-worth if it is to take root and grow. The path to emotional and spiritual health is often long, always arduous and usually bewildering at times. Yet is can be traversed with an outcome that promises not only freedom from the spiritual pain but a new and hope-filled future.


The path to healing that Fr. Tom describes, demands the cross road choice I wrote about previously. It's a choice which will not be made by the Institutional Church because this path of healing necessitates the demise of much of the theology of the priesthood and the institutional power structure which is supported by that theology. It demands a complete rethinking of the nature of God and man's relationship with God. Finally, it demands a rethinking of sexuality, moving towards a theology of relationship and away from one based in sexual acts.

In as much as Benedict is taking the Church precisely in the opposite direction be prepared to hear more dissembling, lame excuses, blame shifting, and thousands of more victims coming forward. Be prepared to hear more from desperate supporters of the clerical hierarchy because it's in their survival interests to do so, but I think it's also going to be important to offer support to Catholics who are lost on a path which no longer supports their spiritual life.


  1. fantastic address from Tom Doyle which goes right to the heart of the matter, as do your comments. Just came to this after reading your comment over at Bilgrimage. Many thanks.

  2. Yes, Jayden this is the core of the current crisis and the pathetic nature of the Institutional response.

    It's been stunning to me to read the responses from true believers to the latest exposures of Vatican complicity. They are beautiful examples of active denial. It's a terrible beauty though and they are sad to read.

  3. Thanks Colleen,

    Outstanding commentary on Fr. Doyle's piece.


  4. This reminds me of the time an ordained woman, from another denomination, came to me after she extricated herself from a cult. As I recall, I gave her 3 pieces of advice, that she needed:

    1. psychotherapy

    2. spiritual counseling

    3. to report this to the licensing board (as the religious cult leader was a licensed mental health professional, whom she had initially gone to for counseling).

    As I recall, she did all three. I totally agree that at times the spiritual aspect is neglected. But how can anyone recover without that?

    In the seminal book, to my view, on abuse by a Harvard professor (at the medical school, I believe), Judith Herman determined that victims of abuse need to reestablish 3 things:

    1. physical safety

    2. social connections

    3. meaning and purpose in life (and that specifically refers to spiritual connections - of whatever type the individual finds helpful and healing

  5. P.S. All of us, even non-victims, are collateral damage in this whole sorry series of abuse earthquakes - which have led to this crisis.

    Thus, we all need the spiritual healing, in whatever form is right for us.

    Even Maureen Dowd today seems on the verge of exiting the RCC...

  6. Colleen, thank you for wonderful commentary on a valuable article.

    I especially appreciate your observation, "Finally, the response to this crisis from laity is very often abusive in itself."

    I've followed and participated in the threads discussing the Kiesle case at both America's and Commonweal's blogs.

    It's astonishing to me how quickly both have degenerated into gay-bashing--very nasty and mean-spirited gay-bashing, at that, in some cases.

    And yet the folks doing the gay-bashing make claims like, "those trying to make the Vatican accountable for the abuse crisis just want to overturn the church's moral teaching."

    I wonder how these folks imagine that they and their church will have any moral credibility left, when they 1) try to divert attention from the real problem of abuse of power by 2) turning around and abusing their gay brothers and sisters?

    These threads are painful to read. I think what is most painful of all is the recognition that the church has done a horrible job of educating many of its members about the most basic instincts of the moral life. These have to do with seeking and telling the truth, with trying to heal and not deepen the pain of the world, and with standing in solidarity with those who are oppressed.

  7. Bill, I think it's sadder that it seems the Church has done an abysmal job of teaching basic common Christian decency.

    I can't help but see the gay bashing stemming from the same dark hole the Vatican is coming from. Take away the specialness of the priesthood and the whole sacramental theology collapses. It is true that in doing this Catholicism is far closer to protestantism than the Council of Trent's concepts of Catholicism, but historically the battle over the exalted theology of priesthood and all it's attendant power abuses is fought with a vengeance every 500 years or so and it ends in schism.

    Looking at this repetitive history it's not hard to see that we are headed down the same path for the same old reasons.

    Benedict's year of the priest has been like he called for another Council of Trent without actually calling another council. It's been a last gasp effort to protect Trent's notion of the priesthood. If he ever calls a real council, I doubt it will validate the Trentan notion of priestly authority.

  8. There is a solid basis in Scripture & as shown in the history of the early (Pre-Constantinian) Church for the 'sacramental priesthood'. And no point in denying it. At the same time it was understood & practiced in a much different way.

    For example, there were many more Bishops per capita. They were shepherding smaller flocks, thus known to the ppl. Not some distant exalted figure. They were either chosen by mutual consensus of the presbyters, and/or by acclamation of the laity (men AND women). The closeness to the ppl was a check against elitism & exalted egos.

    Likewise with the presbyter/priests - they were very close to the ppl, and literally lived among them as equals. The conception of 'servant' was very much emphasized. As they were neither salaried nor owned anything of substance, elitism & personal greed was held in check (for the most part)

    The Sacraments are intended to be life-giving spiritual help. Not bargaining chips. Not as 'pet food' to be dangled before 'the simple' to make them dance & be OBEDIENT. They were to forgive men their sins - not hold them over their heads!

    While there was always some form of private Confession (as personal spiritual direction), communal General Confession of Sin & Imposition of Absolution was an integral part of early rites of the Mass.

    First the priest/bishop would turn to the people (often prostrating himself...) and publicly admit his failings toward his flock & in the excercise of his office & ask forgiveness. The ppl would then voice their forgiveness of him. Then all would turn toward the altar, kneel or prostrating themselves & confess to God in silence their sins. The rite would conclude with the priest/bishop imposing General (and conditional..) Absolution upon all, in the Name of Christ. Then would be the "Kiss of Peace'. The Mass would begin.

    Where did you think the Protestants got the idea? They did not invent it!

    The result would be that all present (assuming they were sincerely repentant) would be shrived of their sins prior to Mass. And thus worthy to receive Holy Communion.

    While private Confession is truly good for the soul, it is mechanical unless genuine spiritual direction is involved. It is also pointless without it & so mechanized & mandatory that it is forced upon ppl. It has its place & is much to be desired. But to eliminate the General Confession from the Mass (largely gone in some places even prior to Trent) is cruelty. It is also arrogance from the clergy.

    So is forcing Sunday mass attendance. And the extortion of $$ under the vile pretext of making it a sin not to contribute to the Church institution.

    The problem is not (legitimate) Sacramental Theology. The problem is when such is intentionally twisted for selfish ends. To make clerics into a 'priestly caste'
    ; an elite, privileged class.

    Jesus Christ was poor, owning nothing but His clothes. He literally ordered His Apostles NOT to own excess worldly goods or to keep $$ for themselves. They were to rely ONLY on Divine Providence for their daily bread. And to give ALL $$ received away to the poor, keeping nothing. That they were to be servants to all; their needs supplied by God.

    St. Francis of Assisi was once of pitifully few canonized saints who truly understood this in its fullness...and LIVED it.

    By contrast, most clerics have followed the model of the scenario with Mary Magdalene & the 'costly oil'. Where he tries to twist Christ's teaching to his selfish ends - ignoring Mary's motivating love of God. So that he might keep the oil for himself.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  9. Worth the read:

    The priest sex abuse scandal is closing in on the pope: Opinion: He needs to stop blaming the media for the failings of his own leadership and his own church.

  10. Colleen, would appreciate your take on Timothy Radcliffe's statement, Should I stay or Should I go, just posted at Clerical Whispers. Seems to be another "beautiful example of active denial." I respect him as a writer - up to a point, but he is much too 'kind' and bland when it comes to the crimes of church authorities.

  11. Two thoughts about the absence of spiritual help for victims. First of all, one of the huge problems of the lack of RC priests is the lack of pastoral care. For anyone! Priests are stuck being sacrament providers. And that's about it.

    Next, I truly wonder whether, together with the stunted sexuality of many priest, the majority of RC priests lack much of a developed spiritual life themselves! If this too is stunted, then how could they even comprehend the riches that are available and the way in which that richness has been torn asunder by this culture of abuse?

  12. "The Sacraments are intended to be life-giving spiritual help. Not bargaining chips. Not as 'pet food' to be dangled before 'the simple' to make them dance & be OBEDIENT. They were to forgive men their sins - not hold them over their heads!"

    Your point here is well taken. (And I laughed my ass off when I read this.)

    Putting it another way, really profound sacramental experiences are always relational in a meaningful personal sense, not exercises in rote memorization and repetitive ritual.

    I really like your point about the warping of the sacrament of penance and the penitential rite associated with Mass. I've always thought personal confessions should be handled by professionally trained spiritual counselors or therapists. Basically the sacrament is one of healing, as in returning people to wholeness. Three Hail Mary's and Three Our Father's does not cut it. It's much easier to go and sin no more when you have a handle on why you are sinning in the first place.

    Maybe a special order of Deacons or something would be a useful addition. A diaconate not dependent on gender or marital status, but ability, experience, wisdom, and maturity.

  13. Jayden what I thought was pertinent about Radcliffe's piece was his refusal to even deal with the whole theology of the priesthood. He fully concentrates on making the Church and it's priests just other guys in a flawed institution like any other flawed institution. We're just one of the boys doing things like all the other boys. I guess when it comes to sexual abuse priests are really just plain old guys, not 'in persona christi' at all.

    The blame the lawyers and psychologist cards is wishful thinking. There were plenty of voices during the time period he references, who said something entirely different. Ditto the blame it on secular society. At the height of the reporting the perpetrators were active in the fifties and early sixties.

    At least he gives feminism a bit of a compliment. I saw his entire article as trying to have his cake and eat it to. At least in the sense that official spokesman will drop the 'perfect society', in 'persona christi' theology, when it serves the purpose of maintaining the perfect society and the 'in persona christ' theology. I don't see this as active denial. I see it as premeditated and purposeful denial.

    The statistics he cites concerning the prevalence of priestly abuse vs other categories are fully debunked on SNAP's website.

  14. TheraP, Don't you think that the emphasis on external spiritual ritual and practice almost necessitates splitting your spiritual life off from the rest of your life? Rather than making your spirituality the organizing principle for your life it becomes a series of external events which have little or no relationships to the rest of your life?

    That seems to me to be a big problem with all kinds of religious leaders. Talking the talk in some special circumstances is not walking the walk in all circumstances. A very wise protestant leader once said the best way to train real ministers is to drag them around for three years, force them to rely on providence, and come face to face with life on the ground. In his mind, Jesus had the best seminary program. St. Francis would agree.

    Personally I think that could be a trip and a half.

  15. "Affirming the Church's responsibility.

    The institutional Catholic Church has thus far avoided accepting its responsibility for the culture of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up. Church authorities have made public apologies for "mistakes made" and have shifted the blame to others such as the media or the medical profession.[44] Yet no public statement has given evidence of a full awareness of the causality of clergy abuse or of the damage done to those abused"

    ## Not a hope in Hell. The Church does not and cannot accept responsibility - it is not capable of doing so. It's good at blaming others, but never itself.

    More's the pity.

  16. Colleen, you are asking some interesting questions. And the "splitting" off from the rest of your life question is, I think, the key. If priests married, for example, that would immerse them in so much more of life. So maybe the problem is being "divorced" from so much to begin with, so split-apart by impossible strictures demanded of them, that they split-off this and split-off that. And finally LACK a center! I'd never thought of it before, but it's almost as if they lack vitality because of their truncated lives. And spirituality has got to be vital, not just ritualized (as you point out).

    The more we bore our way into this mess, the more strange it all begins to appear.

    All I can say is that when I've met priests who are married, Episcopalians and Orthodox, it seems to me they have a quality of relating to others which many RC priests lack. And if you lack qualities to relate, then it seems to me you're lacking in the very quality of relating to God.

    All of this is "seat of the pants" thinking - as I've never really considered it before. But it also fits with my long-held idea that celibacy fits better within religious orders - where, at least theoretically, the men and women are working hard on getting along with each other and maturing within those relationships, which force them to know themselves better and know, forgive, and accept their brothers and sisters at ever deeper levels. Which circles back to my deeply held view that the RC church's spiritual tradition is ALIVE (vital!) within certain of the contemplative orders of monks and nuns. (But that tradition seems not to penetrate the diocesan priesthood, who are so overburdened with simply doling out the "pet food" - via the prescribed rituals of canon law.)

    Any thoughts readers?

  17. Until the Vatican enacts transparency and accountability, earmark your offerings for specific bills, salaries and projects within your parish and diocese. Pray for healing for all involved.

  18. Until the Vatican enacts transparency and accountability, earmark your offerings for specific bills, salaries and projects within your parish and diocese. Pray for healing for all involved.

  19. Colleen -

    In re private really has to be as you hint. True spiritual direction MUST include a holistic understanding of WHY I sin. Not merely that I did. If I do not get to the core cause - and find the means of healing the wound, spiritually - I will be stuck on the merry-go-round repeating it.

    Such usually rote 'Confessions' do not work. Except in the rare case of an individual who IS mentally/spiritually advanced enough to have come to terms with him/herself. So that he CAN 'go and sin no more'. Or at least start on the road to fixing the core problem.

    All Absolution is 'conditional' - it works IF you are sincere. And only IF!

    I find it amusing - if not sick - to realize the furor with which the conservative element utterly squashed the abortive attempts to introduce Communal Penance Services....complete with Conditional Absolution.

    It is also very disturbing to realize that what I said about the true origins of the Penitential Rite in the earliest 'forbidden knowledge'. The nuns from whom I initially heard of this in elementary school practically had to whisper if it was a deep, dark secret.

    If you analyze the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar from the Tridentine Mass, you will see a remnant of what I alluded to.

    But if this 'does not forgive sins' (!!!!) as Monsignore have sternly taught, then WHY was this phrase said by Priest & Server to each other:

    "May Almighty God have mercy on you,forgive you, your sins, & bring you unto everlasting life. Amen. May the Almighty and Merciful Lord grant you pardon + absolution + and remission + of your sins. Amen"

    Words have meaning...look up the English version of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Now....imagine if Priest & ALL the people said it responsively.

    Interesting, no?

    Anon Y. Mouse

  20. Thanks for the comments on Timothy Radcliffe, very helpful...depressing to see such a 'distinguished' figure engaging in this kind of premeditated and purposeful denial."
    'They are beautiful examples of active denial. It's a terrible beauty though and they are sad to read.' How true, but despite all the defensive flurry the wall is coming a tumbling down.

  21. "If you analyze the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar from the Tridentine Mass, you will see a remnant of what I alluded to.

    But if this 'does not forgive sins' (!!!!) as Monsignore have sternly taught, then WHY was this phrase said by Priest & Server to each other:

    "May Almighty God have mercy on you,forgive you, your sins, & bring you unto everlasting life. Amen. May the Almighty and Merciful Lord grant you pardon + absolution + and remission + of your sins. Amen"

    ## (Very) short answer - because the dialogue between priest and server is not a celebration of the Sacrament of reconciliation.

    IMHO, there should be an assured place in pastoral practice for General Confession - I don't see that it need be sacramental. Most forgiveness is not. Maybe a bit of development in ecclesiology & sacramental theology is to be desired here.

  22. A good friend of Fr. Tom Doyle is in the news today calling for the pope's resignation.

    Fr. James Scahill has a history of courageous leadership. In 2002, he objected to Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre keeping convicted pedophile priest Richard Lavinge on the church payroll. Scahill also objected to Lavinge being allowed to lurk around parishes with children. Scahill withheld his parish payments to Dupre in protest.

    Bishop Dupre himself suddenly resigned in 2004 when he was accused of past child abuse, after Scahill urged victims to come forward. Lavinge was finally defrocked and taken off the church payroll that year. Lavinge remains the only suspect in the 1972 murder of altar boy Danny Croteau whom police believe Lavinge abused then murdered, though they have never been able to prove it.

    James Scahill has consistently been courageous in the way of the prophets through all these events.

  23. "## (Very) short answer - because the dialogue between priest and server is not a celebration of the Sacrament of reconciliation."

    I am very well aware that this is the basic 'party line' on this topic.

    But it is wrong - on all levels.

    Words have meaning. When one speaks words of absolution (which the phrases I quoted are), for one to say them & NOT intend to absolve sins is called....

    ...a lie. And LIE is of the Devil, not Christ.

    From any approach - metaphysical, theological, philosophical - when we lie, we break trust. Moreover, in the context of a Mass or other Sacrament, if we say words by which we DO NOT mean what we say (or intend the opposite of the meaning), this is beyond wrong.

    It is the essence of the demonic. As the main principle of the higher occult/demonic is that of Inversion.

    If there is no intention to absolve sins in this context, then ANY words stating or implying this need to be removed from the Mass.

    Immediately. Or else, the ancient practice & intention of Absolution should be revived.

    Pick one.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  24. Anon Y Mouse, I have to agree with you and this one. It is a lie to utter that which you do not intend. The idea of inversion is important for folks to understand.

    I have yet to attend a Native healing ceremony where this wasn't discussed, and discussed very pointedly. Participants are asked to leave if for any reason they mouth intentions or words which they do not or can not mean or if they hold negative feelings towards the person to be healed.

    I have counseled people not to attend services if they can not withhold the negative feelings, or conversely, if they feel negativity while attending or as the result of the services. Fr. Doyle describes this very well when he talks about a sort of force field keeping abuse victims from attending services.