The former Irish president warned of the damaging impact the church is having on Ireland younger LGBT community.

FORMER PRESIDENT Mary McAleese has described the Catholic Church’s teachings around homosexuality as “intrinsically evil” and amounting to homophobia, suggesting it “empowers the homophobic bully”. 

The Belfast-born law lecturer who served as President of Ireland for two terms between 1997 and 2011 has long been vocal about LGBT rights and the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland. 

In a podcast interview with David Watters ahead of last weekend’s Pride celebrations, McAleese reiterated her concerns for the impact the Church has had on members of that community before and after decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993

“The Church’s teaching on homosexuality is ignorant, it is unreconstructive in the life of science, it’s sad to say. It has never been looked at in the light of the new sciences and it’s not only a pity, it’s worse than that,” she said. 

“The church describes homosexual acts as intrinsically evil. I would regard the Church’s teaching as disorderly and intrinsically evil. Why is it intrinsically evil? Because it conduces to homophobia.

“Look at the language that is used – ‘the homosexuality is disordered’. Who wants to believe that their God-given nature is disordered? That homosexual acts, how they express their love in a loving relationship, for example… that that is regarded as intrinsically evil. I don’t think so.”

“And that by its nature… that language of evil and disordered trickles down into the thinking and it empowers the homophobe, it empowers the homophobic bully. It gives him or her permission to be homophobic and I think the church has got to answer that.” 

McAleese was also critical of the Vatican and Pope Francis, who many see as a more progressive and open-minded Pope than his predecessors, but added some bishops and cardinals across Europe have begun a more positive conversation around the approach of the church to the LGBT community.

“Certain bishops, particularly in Germany and certain cardinals have been champions in this regard, and I think I see in them the green shoots of a future open debate, but let me go back to Francis.

“Alot of people will say ‘Oh wasn’t it wonderful when he said who am I to judge’. Well I was not at all impressed by that, I was angered by it because he does judge. He is the supreme judge of the Church. He is the legislator, he is the judge. If there is something wrong with the law, the only way it can be changed in the Church is if he changes it.

“He is the person who presides over the law that uses these awful phrases ‘intrinisically evil, intrinsically disordered’, he presides over that. He cannot have it both ways but there is a long tradition in the church of having it both ways.”

The 67-year-old also spoke about her own self-education and motivations to become a vocal supporter of LGBT rights as far back as the 1970s. 

“I’ve always been human rights conscious and civil rights conscious, that’s why I did law. You know, a Catholic from Belfast, that’s our thing and so when I came to Trinity in ’75, I moved to Trinity and took up a job there as a law lecturer,” she said. 

“One of the first friends I made there was David Norris and we got chatting and one of the first debates I ever attended was on LGBTI rights… David and I got together and chatted about [it], we’re talking about a time when homosexual acts were criminalised, can you imagine the impact of that on people.

“The one thing I knew was there was something seriously wrong here. In all my life, I’m happily married here for over 40 years to the man that I met when I was 17, I’ve never been attracted to another women.

“I’ve only been attracted to men, not a whole lot of men incidentally… and I remember saying to myself ‘what must it be like to be attracted to another human being and to know that you can’t go there’.”


I have never been a natural fan of Mary McAleese.

I still remember all her years as an RCC ass licker.

Has her son’s coming out made her more gay friendly?

But, actually, all she says about the RCC’s crazy teachings on homosexuality are good and accurate.

The fact that the Irish people voted so strongly for same sex marriage shows that the RCC is at odds with the modern, scientific world.

Civil law should hold the RCC nose to the grindstone  on these matters and stop the RCC putting its homophobia into practice in the social sphere.

And the great contradiction of course is the fact that the RCC is the biggest gay club in the world when it comes to its bishops and priests.



Catholic Church told to shut down gay conversion therapy groups

28th June

By Niall Christie THE NATIONAL

All major psychological organisations in the UK consider conversion therapy unethical

THE Catholic Church has been told to act swiftly to shut down groups across Scotland accused of promoting gay conversion therapy after local community, school and university priests were linked to an international anti-LGBT organisation.

Priests have come under heavy criticism for their promotion and management of branches of Courage International, a Vatican-approved anti-LGBT programme which campaigners claim has long-standing links to so-called “cure therapy”.

Since 2017, the church in Scotland has strengthened its connections to the programme, with half of Scotland’s eight dioceses and archdioceses now hosting meetings run by local priests.

Across Europe only Italy has more chapters of Courage than Scotland.

The organisation does not believe people can be born lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and teaches them to live “chaste lives”, abstaining from sexual activity and suppressing their sexuality.

According to LGBT rights charity Stonewall, conversion therapy, “cure therapy” or reparative therapy refers to any form of treatment or counselling which aims to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

All major psychological, psychotherapeutic and counselling organisations in the UK consider conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation as unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence.

Earlier this month the Conservative Government confirmed it would shortly be bringing forward plans to ban the practice across the UK.

While Courage claims it does not officially endorse the use of conversion therapy by its branches, its teaching and insistence LGBT people must remain chaste falls within Stonewall’s definition of these conversion techniques.

A spokesperson for Stonewall Scotland told The Ferret: “The promotion of the idea LGBT people can and should be cured or changed, is extremely dangerous, particularly for impressionable young people who may be seeking answers about themselves.

“These so-called conversion therapies have been condemned by all major UK health organisations as they try to shame a person into denying a core part of who they are.

“Same-sex attraction is natural and normal. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are not ill. LGBT people seeking support need to be accepted for who they are, not subjected to prejudice and these harmful practices.”

Campaigners and politicians have now said the church must act to end all links with Courage International.

Scottish Greens co-leader and equalities spokesperson, Patrick Harvie MSP, said: “I wish I could say I was shocked this cruel and dangerous practice is taking place in Scotland at all, but the fact it appears to have grown in recent years is a moral stain on Scotland’s ambition to be an inclusive and welcoming country.

“Even the Tory Government in Westminster has recognised this should be illegal. The Catholic church in Scotland must act swiftly not only to publicly condemn conversion therapy but to put an immediate stop to their members’ promotion of it.”
Courage’s branches in Scotland launched almost three years ago after a UK tour by Courage director, Father Philip Bochanski.

The Diocese of Paisley was the first area of Scotland to launch a Courage chapter in late 2017, organised by Bishop John Keenan.

Bishop Keenan has travelled across the world for conferences linked to conversion therapy techniques, including with a delegation of young people from Scotland during a July 2019 trip to Courage International’s annual conference in the United States.

The former Glasgow University chaplain gave the closing speech at the gathering last year, where he said he had “admired Courage for decades”, before acting as the keynote speaker at an online conference run by Courage during lockdown in April.

LGBT Catholic advocates have said the continued promotion of conversion therapy within the church is “cruel”, warning it causes long-term harm to the health of gay and queer people.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, said: “We have heard from people that some leaders and local chapters have recommended it to people.

“Recommending this kind of therapy, especially when it is connected to religious ideas of repentance and prayer or is conducted under religious auspices, is psychologically and pastorally harmful.

“Catholic Church officials, at all levels of governance, should roundly denounce and forbid the practice of so-called conversion or reparative therapy for LGBT individuals.”

Following the launch in Paisley, two groups – in Glasgow and the Diocese of Motherwell – were started by local priests in 2018 as part of a Scottish expansion.

BISHOP Keenan’s successor as University of Glasgow chaplain, Father Ross Campbell (above), also set up his own Courage chapter in Scotland, before joining him on the journey to Courage’s conference in July 2019.

Father Campbell reportedly carries out his ministry off campus to avoid confrontations with LGBT campaigners. He says his work as Courage chaplain for the Archdiocese of Glasgow is done separately from his work as university chaplain.

A priest working with schools and youth groups in North Lanarkshire also continues to operate a Courage branch, launched in 2018.

Father Martin Delaney, who works at St Aloysius’ Catholic Church, Chapelhall and Sacred Heart, Salsburgh, works as chaplain for schools in Motherwell and is in charge of youth ministry for the diocese.

What is conversion therapy? – TREVOR

Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy,” is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapists use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities. According to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute, more than 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to the horrors of conversion therapy, and an estimated 80,000 LGBTQ youth will experience this unprofessional conduct in coming years, often at the insistence of well-intentioned but misinformed parents or caretakers.

Does conversion therapy work?

No. Conversion therapy is premised on the false notion that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that should be cured, despite all major medical associations’ agreement that LGBTQ identities are a normal variant of human nature. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness in 1973.
In addition to its flawed foundation, no credible scientific study has ever supported the claims of conversion therapists  to actually change a person’s sexual orientation. On the contrary, a 2007 report by an American Psychological Association task force found that “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through [sexual orientation change efforts].” In fact, Dr. Robert Spitzer, whose research had previously been misused to support conversion therapy, has retracted his original claims, stating that data regarding conversion therapy had been misinterpreted and that there is no conclusive evidence for its effectiveness.

Is conversion therapy harmful?

Yes. The risks of conversion therapy extend far beyond its ineffectiveness, and the time and money wasted on “therapies” that don’t work. The American Psychiatric Association has clarified that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health

Organization, concluded that conversion therapy, “lack[s] medical justification and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

Conversion therapy amplifies the shame and stigma so many LGBTQ young people already experience. Parents who send their child to conversion therapy instill feelings of family rejection and disappointment and risk seriously fracturing their relationship with their child. In a study by San Francisco State University, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth who were rejected by their families and caregivers due to their identities were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and more than eight times more likely to have attempted suicide when compared to youth from accepting and affirming families and caregivers. Few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. All youth deserve a climate in which they are loved and embraced.


This Courage International crowd are a group of religious nuts.

Conversion Therapy goes against all decent scientific and medical understanding.

It’s a vile abuse of a human being. It’s like something out of concentration camps.

Its thoroughly disgusting, but hardly surprising, that it is being promoted by the RCC.

It should be outlawed everywhere.

Those practising it should be prosecuted, as should promoting it.

Someone said: “Sex will be the Catholic Church’s 20th century Galileo”.

It has come to pass.


Catholic Church in Germany lost a record number of members last year

Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference. Courtesy: Diocese of Limburg

CNA Staff, Jun 26, 2020 / 07:30 am MT (CNA).-

A record number of Catholics formally left the Church in Germany in 2019, according to official figures released Friday. 

The statistics issued June 26 showed that 272,771 people exited the Catholic Church last year, a significant increase on the 2018 figure of 216,078.

In a June 26 statement, Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, said that he did not wish to “gloss over” the figures. 

He said: “Of course, the declines are also due to demographics, but they also show first of all the fact that, despite our concrete pastoral and social actions, we no longer motivate a large number of people for Church life.”

“I find the very high number of people leaving the Church particularly burdensome. We regret every departure from the Church and we invite everyone who has left or wants to leave to talk to us. The number of people leaving the Church shows that the alienation between Church members and a life of faith in the Church community has become even stronger.”

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), a body representing 20 Protestant groups, also released its annual statistics June 26. It reported that its membership fell from 21.14 million in 2018 to 20.7 million in 2019, a drop of 440,000.

According to the new figures, the number of Catholics in the country decreased from 23 million in 2018 to 22.6 million in 2019.

Catholics now account for 27.2% of Germany’s population of almost 84 million, down from 27.7% in 2018.

The proportion of Catholics attending church services has fallen to its lowest level, with 9.1% attending in 2019, compared to 9.3% in the previous year. 

Formal departures from the Catholic Church in Germany are sometimes motivated by a desire to avoid the country’s church tax. If an individual is registered as a Catholic then 8-9% of their income tax goes to the Church. The only way they can stop paying the tax is to make an official declaration renouncing their membership. They are no longer allowed to receive the sacraments or a Catholic burial. 

Meanwhile, the number of admissions to the Church fell from 2,442 in 2018 to 2,330 in 2019, while readmissions decreased from 6,303 to 5,339 in the same period.

In 2019, church marriages declined by 10%, Confirmations by 7% and First Communions by 3%, according to the website of the Catholic Church in Germany.

The number of baptisms also fell from 167,787 in 2018 to 159,043 in 2019

In Bätzing’s own diocese of Limburg, 9,439 people left the Catholic Church in 2019, 1,459 more than in 2018.

The bishop, who succeeded Cardinal Reinhard Marx as bishops’ conference chairman in March, said that the Church should respond not by “chasing after a spirit of the times,” but by recognizing the “signs of the times,” as called for by the Second Vatican Council.

He said: “This sometimes requires courageous changes in our own ranks. That is why last year we set out on the Synodal Way of the Church in Germany to ask what God wants from us today in this world.” 

“We will take the figures published today seriously and bring them into the discussions of the Synodal Way.”

The “Synodal Way” is a two-year process that brings together lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

The German bishops initially said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes — raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge the Church’s teaching and discipline. 

In June 2018, Pope Francis sent a 28-page letter to German Catholics urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.”

“Every time an ecclesial community has tried to get out of its problems alone, relying solely on its own strengths, methods and intelligence, it has ended up multiplying and nurturing the evils it wanted to overcome,” he wrote.

Last September, the Vatican sent a letter to the German bishops declaring that plans for the synod were “not ecclesiologically valid.”

After a back and forth between the bishops’ conference and Vatican officials, the first synodal assembly took place in Frankfurt at the end of January. The second meeting is expected to go ahead, despite the coronavirus crisis, in September. 

In his letter to German Catholics, the pope said that participants in the “Synodal Way” faced a particular “temptation.”

“At the basis of this temptation, there is the belief that the best response to the many problems and shortcomings that exist, is to reorganize things, change them and ‘put them back together’ to bring order and make ecclesial life easier by adapting it to the current logic or that of a particular group,” he wrote.


What is happening now in Germany is happening world wide.

Through the sexual abuse crises and the daily revelations of corruption worldwide the RCC is regarded by many as not only dysfunctional but in fact evil.

What was it the pope said? “The smoke of Satan has entered the church”.

For so long, with the absence of an international media, people did not know what was really going on in the RCC.

But nowadays if a priest abuses a little girl in Australia we know about it within hours in Europe.

Thanks to the international media the whale like body of the RCC is ripped open on the international beach and its ineards are there for all to see.

The RCC is decomposing on a daily basis for us all to see.

Finally, the beast is being slain.

“And this is the work of the Lord and a marvel for our eyes”.



Abuse allegations against former Sprin­gfield Bishop Christ­opher Weldon ‘unequi­vocally credible,’ investigation finds

Updated Jun 24, 10­:18 PM; Posted Jun 24, 2:00 PM

The Most Rev. Chri­stopher J. Weldon, seen here on July 24, 1970, was bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfie­ld from 1950 until 1977.The Republican file photo

By​ Anne-Gerard Flynn |

SPRINGFIELD — A re­tired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegati­ons against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Dioc­ese of Springfield for more than 25 year­s, found the accusat­ions to be “unequivo­cally credible.”

Meanwhile, mandato­ry reporters in the diocese who first he­ard the alleged vict­im’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive su­mmary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Vel­is, who was hired a year ago to investig­ate the matter.

Velis’ report conc­luded “the allegatio­ns of the Complainant of sexual molestat­ion committed upon him by Bishop Christo­pher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ th­at included anal rap­e, indecent assault and battery and inte­ntional infliction of emotional distre­ss are unequivocally credible. The alleg­ations that were inv­estigated and examin­ed are not dubious,​ vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the prod­uct of any chimerical conception, fabric­ation or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive be­havior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.”

In an executive su­mmary, Velis critici­zed the diocesan rev­iew board that heard the alleged victim’s account in June 20­18.

“It was clear in my examination that the process included an inexplicable modi­fication and manipul­ation of the reports received by and act­ed on by the Diocesan Review Board,” Vel­is wrote. “Additiona­lly the complaint pr­ocess was compromised in that mandatory reporters failed in their duties to re­port the allegations to prosecutorial au­thorities.”

Velis said that in “evaluating the act­ions of those involv­ed in the Weldon ass­essment,” he found a “reluctance to ferv­ently pursue an eval­uation of allegations against [Weldon] due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious com­munity.”

Weldon died in 198­2.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced last July that Velis, who​ retired​ as a Hampden Super­ior Court judge in 2012,​ had been hired​ to investigate the allegations. Rozanski described Velis as a “truly objective person who will inves­tigate the Bishop We­ldon matter thorough­ly, review how this situation has been handled by the dioces­e, and help identify opportunities for improvement in how the diocese handles these matters.”

The diocese descri­bed his hiring as “b­oth warranted and the most prudent course of action” after what it called a “pub­lic disagreement” be­tween the alleged vi­ctim and the diocesan review board.

Three months after the victim met with the board, he recei­ved a letter thanking him “for sharing details of your abuse as detailed in narr­ative relating to Bi­shop Christopher Wel­don, Rev. Edward Aut­hier and Rev. Claren­ce Forand.” The lett­er said the bishop would be advised th­at the board “finds your testimony compe­lling and credible.”

After the Berkshire Eagle published a story last spring ab­out the allegations against Weldon and the other two priests — and​ questioned​ whether their names would be added to the diocese’s list of​ credibly accused cle­rgy, as the alleged victim had expected — the review board’s chairman, John M. Ha­le,​ released​ a statement through the diocese, sayin­g, “There was no fin­ding against Bishop Weldon as the indivi­dual also indicated that the former Bish­op never abused them­.”

The alleged surviv­or, whose testimony before the board was witnessed by three individuals who acco­mpanied him and said he did identify Wel­don as an alleged ab­user, then requested a meeting with Roza­nski, where he reite­rated the allegation­s.

After that​ meeting​ in June 2019, Roza­nski filed a report on the allegations against Weldon with the Hampden County di­strict attorney’s of­fice.
Retired judge Peter A. Velis speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 24, 2020 about his inves­tigation into allega­tions against former Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldo­n.Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican

People who make cl­aims of clerical sex­ual abuse have those claims looked into by a diocesan invest­igator, who reports to the bishop and the diocesan review bo­ard. They may also give testimony before the board, as may the clergy member bei­ng accused. If the bishop accepts the board’s finding that an allegation is cr­edible, the alleged victim may seek fina­ncial compensation from the diocese — th­ough any such settle­ment is not an admis­sion of guilt by the party involved.

The alleged victim who claimed abuse by Weldon did not have his claims of alle­ged abuse by the oth­er two deceased prie­sts disputed by the board. After his mee­ting with Rozanski, he stated his “impre­ssion was that the bishop ‘got it.’”

It is not clear wh­ether he knew his al­legation against Wel­don would be investi­gated further. The appointment of Velis as investigator remo­ved the diocese from having to issue any finding on the alle­gation against Weldo­n, though Velis​ had no powers​ to subpoena.

Earlier this year, Rozanski formed a task force headed by retired Berkshire Su­perior Court Judge Daniel Ford to review recommendations from Velis’ report.

Weldon’s 27 years as Springfield’s fou­rth bishop, starting in 1950, were​ influential​ in the growth of the diocese. However, they also have​ emerged​ as years when many allegations of sexu­al abuse by clergy occurred — as well as the murder of an al­tar boy in which a former priest, Richard R. Lavigne, remains the only publicly identified suspect.

Weldon has been ac­cused of interfering with investigations into that murder. There have been​ reports​ that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to Weldon — who also had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files relat­ed to pedophile prie­sts over the years.

Diocesan lawyers​ have denied​ any such documents were destroyed.

Weldon, who served as bishop from 1950 through 1977 and di­ed in 1982, is the second Springfield bi­shop to be accused of sexual misconduct.

The late Thomas Du­pre resigned as Spri­ngfield bishop in Fe­bruary 2004, a day after The Republican​ confronted​ him with allegatio­ns that he had abused two young men.

A grand jury inves­tigation indicted Du­pre on child sexual assault charges in September 2004, but not on obstruction of justice and conspir­acy charges. He was removed from public ministry by the Vati­can in 2004. He was never charged with two counts of child rape because then-Hampden County Distr­ict Attorney William Bennett​ said they fell out­side the statute of limitations. Dupre died in 2016.


This deceased priest / bishop was a using young people in the 40s, 50s and beyond.

He was abusing in consort with other priests.

It is most likely that his abuse was reported but like so many he was just moved on to another parish.

And, in spite of the abuse he was made a bishop.

It’s the same old story, over and over again.

Even when a priest or bishop is dead it is important that the matter is recorded and investigated.

The living victims need to be listened to, believed and helped in anyway needed.


Church reopening could be ‘unsustainable’


by Sarah Mac Donald

The Catholic Church in Ireland has warned that a government-imposed cap on the number of people allowed to attend public worship could make it unsustainable for some churches to resume Mass.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin called on the Irish government to review its “blanket restriction” limiting participation to 50 people, calling instead for the numbers to be “proportionate to the size of each church”.

He said it seemed “strange” that a church with a capacity of 1,500, scrupulously prepared for social distancing, would only be allowed to have 50 people present, while there are “large retail outlets brim- ming with people”.

Bishop Kevin Doran suggested that the Taoiseach’s announcement has given rise to “confusion and concern”. The Bishop of Elphin said the cap makes “absolutely no sense where churches are concerned as it is not even remotely based on physical distance”.

Our Lady of Victories on Ballymun Road in Dublin could seat 1,700 people prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. “After many weeks of planning, coordinating and observing all protocols,” parish priest Fr Frank Reburn tweeted, it was now ready to seat 280 people with social distancing. However, under the latest guidelines, he can only welcome back 50 when the church reopens.

Another parish priest, Fr Aquinas T Duffy, told The Tablet he had been shocked by the limit and called for better communication between the Irish episcopal conference and the Department of Health. His own parish church in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin, can hold 70 people with social distancing in place. “We had been preparing for reopening. That is going to be challenging but we cannot work with the limit of 50.”

Fr Duffy said his parish had planned to open for weekdays and Sundays after 29 June. “But now we will only open for the weekdays and continue with the online Masses for the Sundays until the end of July.”

In Clonmel, Fr Michael Toomey said Friday’s announcement meant that all the preparations done in churches to safely accommodate people would now have to be revisited.

With social distancing, he said, “many churches can hold up to 150, others less than 50”. He warned that a “blanket” number would cause “huge challenges, especially at funerals”.

Fr Toomey said: “If this is not reviewed it will be a logistical challenge and I wonder if we should reopen for Mass now on 29 June?” 
A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the government would revisit the cap with expert guidance.

Separately, the Association of Catholic Priests has warned that there is “widespread unhappiness”, unease and anger among priests that they are being “manipulated, and in some cases effectively being bullied, into organising and ‘carrying the can’ for the reintroduction of public Masses and for whatever fall-out emerges in time.”


We must all abide by the law in this time of pandemic.

These times are life and death times.

In times of crisis like this there is only authority – the authority of the government elected by the people

These measures have impacted negatively on us all whether it comes to income or indeed emotional health.

But we must put up with these things that have the capacity to take us back to “normality”.

Sadly  the RCC in Ireland, has been used to getting it’s own way.

But that day is over.

The RCC is bound by the same law as the rest of us.



Martin O’Brien meets Fr Edward O’Donnell, a priest happy in his ministry and his own skin (2018) Irish Catholic.

Fr Edward O’Donnell, first ever Catholic ecumenical canon in Belfast’s Protestant cathedral, parish priest in one of the North’ s most well to do areas, former private secretary to the late Bishop Cahal Daly, noted homilist, and proud native of Heaney country in south Derry looks younger than most 67-year old men. It may have something to do with his sunny disposition.

Despite the scandals that have engulfed the Church in Ireland and his disappointment at the “grumbles” of some brother priests in the media he is upbeat while not being complacent.

“Of course, there are things that are not right and could be done better. However, I am not disgruntled with the Church, sometimes disappointed, just as I am disappointed with myself, but I am happy, and I hope I communicate that. I am happy in my own skin and with what I do.”


Eddie O’Donnell is grateful that he has been blessed with good health, still not requiring any medication, yet mindful of life’s fragility, reminding me that his father died of an aneurism at the age he is now.

We’re in his presbytery outside St Brigid’s Church in south Belfast, where he has been parish priest for seven years.

He’s grateful that the attendance at Sunday Mass has remained stable in that period, at around 2,000. According to the Down and Connor directory the estimated Catholic population of the parish is 13,500, making it numerically the biggest in the diocese.

It is one of the wealthiest parts of the region but Fr O’Donnell stresses that financial wealth and spiritual wealth do not always go together.

He says that the economic downturn had a more severe effect on his parish than is realised and that parts of it experience “great poverty”.

“There are more ‘newcomers’, immigrants and refugees in a particular ‘end’ of our parish area than anywhere else in the diocese. Many of those people in a very poor situation are not Catholics at all where our parish St Vincent de Paul Society go and minister to those in need and the need is great.”

He considers the biggest challenge facing his parish – and parishes all over Ireland –  one that he poses to the parish pastoral council: “How will you preserve the faith in St Brigid’s when there is no priest?”


Yes wee Eddie was Cahal’s secretary and after a while he began looking and talking like Cahal.

What an awful thing for a PP to say.

That he is preparing his parish for eventual priestlessness.

Not much of the virtue of hope there.

Of course, priests are disappearing fast.

But that does not mean there cannot be priests.

There can be part time married and women priests.

But the clerics will be gone.

There is a difference between being a priest and being a cleric.

I always though that Little Eddie would be a monsignor. But he is not part of the Treanor Court and had to be satisfied with being made a Protestant canon.



Yesterday, someone on the blog asked:
“How about a few stories on red blooded heterosexual house keeper riding priests”!!!

So, here goes.

When I entered seminary 50 years ago this September it was / is my observation that most priests were heterosexual and most priests observed celibacy.

After ordination I got to know of some priests who were not observing celibacy, with women and a very occasional one with men.

I have met / confessed and advised about 10 priests in total who were in sexual relationships with women.

I also knew several priests whose “housekeeper” was in fact their “wife”.

In 1992 when the Bishop Casey scandal broke and Cahal Daly announced on RTE that Casey was a one off I began getting getting calls from women in relationships with priests- 130 women in all.

I set up a support group for those woman called BETHANY.

I introduced women to women in their own area who were involved with priests.

Two of those women in the Linerick area discovered they were sleeping with the same priest!  We nicknamed that priest Father Rabbit 

6 women pregnant with priest’s babies had abortions.

On two occasions the priests involved travelled with the woman to England and paid for those abortions. Those same two priests preached against abortion from the pulpit!

One religious order priests had three women on the go at the one time – a nun, a married woman and a widow. The priest had full intercourse with the nun as re regarded her as his “spiritual wife”. He practiced coitus interuptus with the married woman and widow.

This priest had a full time job conducting nuns retreats!

He once got the married woman to lie naked on the altar of his religious house chapel and said a Mass of Thanksgiving over her body. He told the woman “God has sent you into my life to help me cope with my sexuality, and continue to do all the good work I do for him”. He told the woman she was his “co-priest”.

I got the married woman to report him to his religious superior.

During the meeting the superior tried to seduce her!

A priest of Clogher diocese was bisexual and had a female and male partner.

When the woman approached him for Holy Communion at Mass, instead of saying THE BODY OF CHRIST he winked at her and said CHRIST, WHAT A BODY.

He called his clerical caller: “My bird catcher”.

One Northern Ireland priest who slept with a Bethany woman was also an active paramilitary and his pillow talk was about the men he had administered “nut jobs” (killings) or “knee jobs” ( punishment shootings) to !

In case anyone asks, that matter was reported.

Five Down and Connor priests once gang raped a woman in a Belfast Hotel. She refused to go to the RUC. I gave her name and story, and the names of the priests to the bishop and VG. Nothing happened. But two of them have since appeared in court charged with the sexual abuse of under age females.


During a Parish Mission in St Peter’s Belfast, in my time, a young Franciscan priest used to get women to suck his finger while he masturbated.

There have always been many priest’s children in the world.

Generally, the bishop paid the woman off and exiled her.

The priests were hidden and retained in ministry.


McEntaggart – the son of the priest.

McEnspie – the son of the bishop.

McNabb – the son of the abbot.

Many heterosexual priests in the past “serviced” wealthy women parishioners.

They were repaid by been given large sums of money and having property left to them in wills.

In the old code of canon law being illegitimate was an impediment to Holy Orders.

Strange that, when many bishops and priests were total bastards anyway.

Nowadays  the RCC priesthoid is 90 + % gay.



This is an edited extract from In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy, by Frédéric Martel, published by Bloomsbury

Like a number of seminarians I have interviewed, Lafcadio describes to me another phenomenon that is particularly widespread in the church, so much so that it has a name: crimen sollicitationis (solicitation in confession). In confessing their homosexuality to their priest or spiritual director, the seminarians leave themselves exposed.

“A number of priests to whom I have confessed my doubts or attractions have made advances to me,” he tells me.

Often these solicitations are fruitless: at other times they receive consent and lead to a relationship; sometimes couples form. At yet other times these confessions – even though this is a sacrament – lead to touching, harassment, blackmail or sexual aggression.

The church puts up with the denunciation of homosexuals, but it forbids priests who are made aware of sexual abuse in confession to betray that secret

When a seminarian confesses that he has attractions or tendencies, he takes risks. In some cases the young man is denounced by his superior, as the former priest Francesco Lepore experienced at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

“In the course of a confession I mentioned my internal conflicts to one of the chaplains of Opus Dei. I was open and a bit naive. What I didn’t know was that he would betray me and tell everyone around him.”

Other seminarians have been trapped into having their confessions used against them to exclude them from the seminary; something that is strictly illegal under canon law because the secrets of the confessional are absolute, and betraying them should mean excommunication.

“Here again the church demonstrates double standards. It puts up with the denunciation of homosexuals, whose admissions have been elicited in confession, but it forbids priests who are made aware of sexual abuse in confession to betray that secret,” one seminarian laments.

According to several witnesses, cruising in confession occurs particularly frequently during the first few months of a seminarian’s training, during the year of “discernment” or “propaedeutic”, more rarely at the level of the diaconate.

Among the regular clergy, Dominicans, Franciscans and Benedictines have confirmed to me that they underwent this “rite of passage” as novices. Advances made, whether consented to or not, are justified by a kind of biblical excuse: in the Book of Job the guilty party is the one who yields to temptation, not the tempter themselves; in a seminary then the guilty party is ultimately always the seminarian and not the predatory superior – and here we encounter the whole inversion of the values of good and evil that the church constantly maintains.

Most of the seminarians I interviewed helped me to understand something that I hadn’t grasped, and that is very nicely summed up by a young German I met by chance in the streets of Rome.

“I don’t see that as a double life. A double life would be something secret and hidden. But my homosexuality is well known within the seminary. It isn’t noisy, it isn’t militant, but it is known. What is truly forbidden, however, is to be militantly in favour, to assert oneself. But as long as one remains discreet, everything is fine.’

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule does outstanding work, as it does elsewhere in the church. Homosexual practice is better tolerated in the seminaries when it is not displayed. But woe to him who causes a scandal!

“The only thing that is really banned is to be heterosexual. Having a girl, bringing a girl back, would mean immediate exclusion. Chastity and celibacy apply mostly to women,” the German seminarian adds with a broad smile.

While the celibacy of priests remains in place, a gay priest will always receive a better welcome in the church than a straight priest. That’s a reality

A former seminarian who lives in Zurich explains his point of view.

“Essentially the church has always preferred gay priests to heterosexual priests. With its anti-gay circulars, it claims to be changing things a little, but you can’t change a reality with a circular!

“While the celibacy of priests remains in place, a gay priest will always receive a better welcome in the church than a straight priest. That’s a reality, and there’s nothing the church can do about it.”

The seminarians I have interviewed agree on another point: a heterosexual cannot feel completely at ease in a Catholic seminary, because – and I’m quoting the expressions they used – of “the looks”, the “special friendships”, the “bromances” the “boy-chasing”, and the “sensitivity”, “fluidity”, “tenderness” and “generalised homoerotic atmosphere” that emanates from it. Anyone who wasn’t a confirmed bachelor would be flummoxed.

And another seminarian adds, repeating a mantra that I have heard several times: “Jesus never once mentions homosexuality. If it’s such a terrible thing, why does Jesus not talk about it?”

After a pause, he observes: “Being in a seminary is a bit like being in Blade Runner: no one knows who is a human and who is a replicant. It’s an ambiguity that straights usually take a dim view of.”

According to lots of statements I have collected in the Roman pontifical universities, the double life of seminarians has evolved considerably over the last few years because of the internet and smart phones. A large proportion of those who went out at the dead of night looking for chance encounters or, in Rome, in clubs like Diabolo 23, K-Men’s Gay, the Bunker or the Vicious Club can now cruise from the comfort of their own home.

Due to apps like Grindr, Tinder or Hornet, and hook-up sites like GayRomeo (now PlanetRomeo), Scruff (for more mature men and “bears”), Daddyhunt (for those who like “daddies”), or Recon (for fetishists and “extreme” sexualities), they no longer need to move or to take too many risks.

Along with my researchers in Rome, I also discover the homosexuality of several seminarians, priests or curia bishops thanks to the magic of the internet.

Often they gave us their email addresses or mobile numbers out of politeness or complicity when we met in the Vatican. After we went on to record the information, quite innocently, in our Gmail address books or on our smart phones, different accounts and names associated with them appeared automatically on WhatsApp, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook. Often pseudonyms!

My team and I have managed to prove that Grindr does its job every evening inside the Vatican State

Starting with these borrowed names, the double life of these seminarians, priests or curia bishops – certainly very discreet, but not geeky enough – emerged from these networking sites as if through the intervention of the Holy Spirit! (Here I am thinking of a dozen precise cases, and especially several monsignori whom we have already encountered in the course of this book.)

Today lots of them spend their evenings on GayRomeo, Tinder, Scruff or Venerabilis – but mostly on Grindr.

Often priests spot each other without meaning to, having discovered that another gay cleric is a few metres away. And my team and I have also managed to prove that Grindr does its job every evening inside the Vatican State.

On Facebook, another site used a lot for cruising, because of the diversity of its members, it is easy to spot gay priests or seminarians. This is true, for example, of several prelates that we followed in Rome: most of them were unfamiliar with the confidentiality protocols of the social network, and left their list of friends visible.

You only had to look at the account of a Roman gay well connected in the homosexual community of the city to determine from “friends in common” whether a priest was gay or not. A timeline need not contain a single gay message: the way Facebook works almost always gives gays away.

To escape this you need to have compartmentalised your life – using separate networks and never having shared the slightest personal information – to such an extent that it is almost impossible.

Smart phones and the internet are changing the lives of seminarians and priests for better or for worse.


I think this piece from Martel calls for us to stop and reflect.

It shows the deep, deep problems with seminarians and priests.

It’s more worrying that it is at the heart of the Vatican.

The RCC is in mega difficulty.

Where would you start to reform it?







Ross Rosenberg

A narcissistic injury occurs when narcissists react negatively to perceived or real criticism or judgment, boundaries placed on them, and/or attempts to hold them accountable for harmful behavior.  It also occurs when a person does not accommodate a narcissist’s insatiable need for admiration, special privileges, praise, etc.  The “injury” also shows up when the narcissist over-amplifies and personalizes benign interpersonal interactions. It can also come out when a person with no malintent does not meet the narcissist’s impossible-to-achieve desires for high levels of praise and admiration.

The “injury” is often followed by the narcissist’s loss of control over his or her emotional equanimity, and a subsequent burst of passive or overtly aggressive vindictive responses.  These bouts of emotional tumult are referred to as emotional dysregulation, as the activated narcissist emotional reaction spikes and often is beyond his or her control.


The Rev’d Dr Thaddeus Birchard

I was 18 when I first saw St Theresa in Ecstasy. This statue by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is held in Sta Maria della Vittoria,
Rome. Even then, I was aware of its sensual and spiritual ambiguity. It ties together two experiences of ecstasy: the one sexual and the other religious.

Since that time I have, for personal, professional and clinical reasons, sought to explore the interconnection between our religious and sexual spheres of experience. Even before I had read William James (1902), I had already begun to suspect that the ‘snake and the seraph’ came from a common source and shared a common function.

This article, and the presentation that preceded it, given to the Spirituality Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, is based on four interconnecting platforms of experience.

The first is heuristic, my own experience as a sexual person but also as someone called to ordination and ministry.

There is also my experience as a clinical practitioner with an academic background in theology, psychotherapy and psychosexual
therapy. Further, I run a clinical practice in psychosexual therapy and have developed a specialised treatment programme for those who find themselves troubled by addictive patterns of sexual behaviour. I have also done research
into the aetiology of clergy sexual misconduct (Birchard, 2000).

This paper therefore draws on these sources and brings them to bear on this subject – the
relationship between sexual and religious behaviour. In this paper, my hypothesis is that sexual and religious behaviour can be connected in the following four ways:

• As a common response to narcissistic damage

• As a means of regulating and managing negative affect

• As corresponding parts of oscillating cycles of control and release

• Through the shared function of fantasy

The following sections will explain and summarise these connections.

As a response to narcissistic damage

Addiction, especially sex and love addiction, has been my main clinical interest for over 20 years. I define sexual addiction as a pattern of sexual
behaviour that is distinguished by four subjective criteria: It is experienced as preoccupying and/or out of control, it is hard to stop or predictably stay
stopped, it brings with it real or potential harmful consequences and its function is to anaesthetize negative affect.

To clarify the nature of my clinical practice, here are a few of examples of the types of behaviours that bring people to see us.

A young man comes to us who is spending four to five hours a day searching for sex on the Internet.

A woman comes to us because she continues to bring strangers home from bus stops.

Another man, not far from retirement, has been referred because he has lost a well-paying job accessing ‘barely legal’ material on his work computer.

Although there is disagreement over the use of the language and nomenclature of addiction in such cases, there is wide agreement that the
behaviour itself, so described, exists. I use the term‘addiction’ in clinical practice because it is a grass-roots self-appropriated term that has emerged to describe the felt experience of real people. It comes from the Latin addictare and brings with it the sense of becoming enslaved.

I take the view that sexual addiction, like any addictive substance or process, is a response to the pain and distress of narcissistic damage. All
addictions have a common underlying psychobiological process. I think of narcissistic damage as the outcome of a disturbance in attachment. I use the following definition for narcissistic damage (Goodman, 1998, p298):

‘Enduring affect, cognitive, behavioural and relational patterns laid down in the formation
of the self and carried into adult functioning that are inflexible, maladaptive, and cause either significant impairment or subjective distress’.

The function of an addiction is therefore to anaesthetize the subjective distress created by the narcissistic damage. The components of this ‘inner malaise’ may vary from individual to individual but include core loneliness, grandiosity, boredom, compulsion to control, depression, anger, envy and a pervasive sense of shame (Kernberg, 1986, Miller 1989).

It is my hypothesis that sexual addiction is a response to narcissistic damage and that for some people this is combined with religious behaviour. Religious behaviour also serves to anaesthetize the negative affect states created by narcissistic

Other writers (Coleman, 1992, Griffin-Shelley, 1991, Goodman, 1998, Jacobs, 1997, Milkman and Harvey, 1987, Pope et al 1993) have observed the similarities between substance-based addictions like alcohol, drugs and food and more behaviourally-based addictive processes like shopping, food, gambling, exercise, love, sex and religion. Carnes (1991) notes of an orthodox Jew that the more orthodox he became the more hypersexual he became.

Booth (1991, p6), an Anglican priest and a recovering alcoholic, writes about his use of religion: ‘today I am able to understand that the drama of church ritual…became my first drug of choice’.

As a means of affect regulation

My second hypothesis is that religious and sexual behaviour can operate to manage and anaesthetize shame and associated states of negative affect. This follows on from the idea that sexuality and religious behaviour are inter-connected responses to narcissistic damage. In my experience of running a treatment programme for men who self-identify as sexually addicted, it has become clear that sexual behaviour can be used to escape the pain and distress of loneliness, abandonment and potential abandonment, stress, and, most of all, shame. In my view, religious rites and rituals have much the same function, albeit among a range of other functions.

Shame reduction is gained through a sense of providential care, selection and election. Prayer, ritual acts, mantras, fasting, singing, repetitious movement and powerful audio-visual processes are employed to alter mood and engender positive feeling states.

It is in the character of an addictive process, whether it is sexual behaviour or religion, that more and more of the behaviour is required and, thus, levels of escalation take place. In some cases, the addiction, which was meant to be a problem-solver becomes instead the problem itself and brings
with it serious additional problems. I have observed this phenomenon with sexual addiction and also with high levels of religiosity.

As oscillating cycles of control and release
Sexual addiction and religious behaviour can often operate in figure￾eight pattern of alternation. This is an alteration between cycles of control and
release similar to anorexic/bulimic patterns of behaviour that will be familiar to practitioners in the care and treatment of eating disorders. In the case of sex and religion, sex operates as the release side of the cycle and religion as the control side. For example, someone acts out sexually and then goes on to confession or to church as part of a process of renewal and control. This process of renewal and control, triggered by neediness or entitlement, gives way to another release cycle of sexual acting out. This process has been confirmed by observations in clinical practice.

Other writers and clinicians have observed the same thing, although stated in different words. For example, Money (1989, p204) describes ‘fugue
states followed by non-fugue states’ and observes accordingly that ‘Rhythmicity, periodicity, cyclicity, and pulsatility are wide spread regulatory
mechanisms in both health and pathology’. This alternating process involving sex and religion is written up more fully in Counselling Psychology Quarterly (Birchard, 2002).

Through the shared function of fantasy I take the view that one of the principal connections between sexual behaviour and religious behaviour is made through the role of fantasy. By religious fantasy I refer to religious narrative and imagery and I only mean that to the mind they are fantasy. In using this language, I am not making a statement about the truth or otherwise of any set of religious beliefs or any component of religious belief and practice. In my view religious and sexual fantasy are interconnected by a common function – the transformation of trauma into triumph.

This is supported by recent research done by Kahr (in press), surveying, in this country, the sexual fantasies of 19,000 people. Kahr has enriched this vast quantitative research project by adding information from over 200 qualitative follow-up interviews. His research bears out my view of
common function. Money (1989) also takes this view.

The late Robert Stoller, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California wrote (1975, p6) in the same vein: ‘My hypothesis is that a
perversion is the reliving of actual historical sexual trauma aimed precisely at one’s sex…or gender identity…and that in the perverse act the past is rubbed out. This time trauma is turned into pleasure, orgasm, victory.

Stoller goes on to more specifically write that ‘it is no coincidence that the fantasy picks out the greatest trauma for what is its moment of greatest
thrill’. Money (1989, p202) takes a similar view:

‘The pain and humiliation of abuse, discipline and bondage that become incorporated into the lovemap begin with tragedy and metamorphose into the triumph of euphoria’.

The same is true of religious narratives and images. These traditions are filled with stories that begin with tragedy and end with the triumph of
transformation. There are many examples in the Judeo-Christian tradition: Job, David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale and the raising of Lazarus. The story of the Exodus is central to Judaism and echoing that, the centrepiece of Christian tradition, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All of these are about the transformation of trauma into triumph.

The underlying psychological explanation of this process is opponent￾process theory of acquired motivation. This theory (Solomon, 1980) states
that the brain tends to turn pain into pleasure and pleasure into pain. Solomon gives a number of examples of this process, in particular, parachuting. He writes that people begin with great fear and because of opponent process end up addicted to the euphoric rush. Money (1989) also cites this process as the psychological under-pinning to our capacity to transform trauma into triumph
This seems to fit into the patterns of behaviour that I have worked with in therapy. For example, the eroticisation of physical punishment has, in my
clinical experience, been associated with the reversal of chastisement and, similarly, bondage with the need to be contained or to contain. I once heard the remark, ‘I am addicted to sex that degrades’. It was clear that this man had, indeed, been degraded as a child. The degradation itself had become eroticised and embedded in acts of coprophilia and coprophagia involving
multiple repetitions and many partners.


Emile Zola’s series of twenty novels The Rougon-Macquarts: the Natural and Social History of a Family under the Second Empire explores all
aspects of addiction but these words about sex and religion, part of which have served as the title of this paper, were written of the Comte Moffat
towards the end of the book ‘Nana’,

He abandoned himself to the power of love and faith, those twin levers which move the world. And in spite of the struggles of his reason, this
bedroom of Nana’s filled him with madness and he would submit shudderingly to the omnipotence of sex, just as he would swoon before the mysterious
power of heaven.

The interconnection of sexual and religious behaviour has long been observed but rarely so clearly and powerfully as in the story of Nana. Zola (Holden, 1972, p11) wrote in his preparatory notes, ‘There is nothing apart from the cunt and religion’.


We religious people should always be ready, even eager, to have our beliefs and their underlying premises challenged and questioned.

In Dr Birchard’s paper I recognise things that I experienced, especially before I engaged in extensive psychotherapy in my late 30s and early 40s.

Our minds are unbelievably complicated and there can be explanations in science and psychology for thoughts and experiences we experience.

Many, if not all of us, have suffered emotional damage during our formative years. If that is not recognised and dealt with, we can be locked into a lifetime of inappropriate behaviour that leads to us hurting ourselves and others over and over.

And sexuality and religion are all connected to this.

Thinking in this area may help us to think about all the damage that was done to us by RCC teachings and practice.

It may also help us to understand the behaviour of RCC Hierarchs and clerics?

Is impossible that many RCC bishops and priests are the way they are because they suffered a narcissistic injury in early life and used BAD RELIGION to regulate their damage?

I am recalling a quote:

“The difference between a neurotic and a psychotic is, the neurotic builds castles in the skies but the psychotic lives in them” 



The Relational Roots of Addiction

The fractured person soothes or stimulate himself to feel “whole”

Kristi Pikiewicz Ph.D. Psychology Today

Addiction provides temporary relief — emotional regulation that was otherwise unavailable. It can make the addicted person feel temporarily “regular”.

The first “regulator” in any person’s life is their caretaker(s), who contains or modifies the baby’s anxiety or distress by providing emotional safety as well as comfort, soothing, joy and other essential psychological experiences.  Mother and child constitute what we might call a “system,” meaning that you cannot look at one individual in isolation.  A crying baby who is neglected by his mother cannot be blamed for not “controlling himself.”  If this neglect is habitual, the child learns eventually that his feelings or needs within this system are “bad” because they are ignored or met with anger, irritation, etc. 

Ideally, the child is provided for within a caring environment, and learns that caretakers can be counted on to help when needed.  But what happens when the environment is neglectful, erratic, frightening or otherwise injurious (overtly or covertly)?  In this case the system is experienced by the child as rigid, abandoning, chaotic and/or punishing.  This is the genesis of toxic shame and an unshakeable inner “badness.”  Such a child learns that she is on her own, and that others cannot tolerate dimensions of her very existence; her desires, needs and wants have to be amputated, tucked away somewhere hidden. 

This traumatic separation from essential desires for connection results in depression, anxiety, isolation and/or physical symptoms such as headaches, disturbances in appetite, sleep or other somaticizations. 

To add insult to injury, the child is often rebuked or punished for “complaining” or “making trouble” by drawing attention to his or her pain and despair.  Such pain is dismissed, minimized or ignored.  Thus to even acknowledge the pain of the abandonment or injury is “wrong,” since it rocks the boat, draws the risk of being exiled, perhaps forever. 

Such terror makes an imprint on the nervous system that is hard to change; a traumatized child must develop maladaptive behaviors and beliefs to survive this dark and chaotic world, to avoid “burdening” those close to her with her very human developmental needs.  Best if these needs just go away and never come back. 

Of course, they don’t.  They can’t; they are an inseparable part of us, even if represent a threat to one’s primary relationships.  They demand soothing, and will find it, even unconsciously, via drugs or alcohol.

Thus drinking or using becomes a “provisional” relationship to fill in the psychic cavities left by these early traumas.  The fractured, wounded person is able to satiate, soothe or stimulate himself to the point of finally feeling whole!  This is the euphoria reported by those who learn to love booze or drugs, which become so much more reliable than anyone or anything else before.  Finally, one is able to regulate and not feel so out of control, fractured or wounded. 

This is why I find it crucially important to understand the regulating function provided, however fleetingly, by drugs or alcohol.  Very often an addicted patient knows that what he is doing is destructive; at the same time, drinking or using is the only thing that has worked.  Behind the machine-like compulsion is an unconscious set of wishes and hopes that are not and have neverbeen safe to express.  If a patient senses he will be giving up his only effective means of regulating feelings and states of mind, with no known substitute in sight; if he thinks that sobriety will require yet another amputation of his most tender yearnings and wishes, he will be highly reluctant to give up his most historically reliable friend.  Without a replacement for the provisional functions of that relationship, motivation for therapy fades.  I try to provide an environment within which at least some of those needs can be met, in order for therapy to proceed in a way that, despite the rough patches, ultimately feels vitalizing for the patient. 

Consider Stan, a 22 year old undergrad who binged chronically on pot.  At first I encouraged him to attend Marijuana Anonymous (MA) meetings, considering his failing grades and shaky employment and housing status.

But he was adverse to MA and refused to go, telling me he preferred to try and quit on his own.  This to me sounded like egotism and machismo, so I gently but persistently kept encouraging him to try MA.  We got nowhere, even when he withdrew from school and began living in his car. 

Things finally shifted when I began to honor his choices and autonomy, anxious though it made me.  In other words I surrendered my agenda – which, I eventually realized, echoed that of his smothering, controlling mother, who had been nagging him for years to stop.  My tone and demeanor couldn’t have been more different, but it felt to Stan like a repetition of his experience with mom.  No wonder he wasn’t interested in the meetings!

I began to encourage his attempts to stop on his own, and over a few months he actually did.  This encouraged him to open up and trust me a bit more, a real challenge for him given his literal abandonment at a young age by a self-centered, narcissistic father. Stan was able to begin to meet his previously hidden needs for encouragement, guidance and parental approval within a trusting environment.

I found that marijuana was how he and his peers “bonded”; Stan had never had a stable group of friends growing up, given his mother’s wandering in search of stable work.  (I later learned she was an alcoholic.)   This brotherhood of guys loved him without demand or condition and was phenomenally important to his self-definition.

The more I understood the risks Stan was taking in trusting me, and his new girlfriend, Alice – and in being honest by asking both his mother to back off and his dad to be a part of his life – the more our work deepened, and the better his life got.  This was sometimes a rocky process, to be sure.  Still, his grades improved over time, and he had a mostly satisfying relationship with Alice, with whom he was honest and who appeared to respect his wishes, even though she scared him a bit with her own vulnerable yearnings for closeness.

Once I entered Stan’s experiential world without a hard-cast “agenda,” well-intentioned though it was, I began to better understand his agenda of defining himself in a collaborative way that felt neither intrusive nor abandoning.  (Note that such an agenda may be necessary if the person is in some kind of acute crisis.)  It reminds me again of the strange paradox that the more a patient and I accept drugs or alcohol as providing some kind of essential emotional/relational function, rather than being simply “wrong”, the easier it is to give up. 

The goal is to begin replacing the abuse/dependence on substances with actual human connections; my relationship with the patient serves as a model, a way of relating honestly and intimately, working through whatever conflicts inevitably arise, and building trust. 

The tragedy for so many of my addicted patients is not that they live in isolation and both yearn and fear closeness to others; it’s that they’ve come to the conviction that this is the only way to proceed.  My great hope is to become a catalyst in providing a different, sometimes uncomfortable but ultimately healing relational experience. 


I have met an awful lot of priests during my life.

Many of them had addictions.

Some were / are addicted to alcohol.

Others were / are addicted to gambling.

Many were / are addicted to sex in various expressions of it.

Others were / are addicted to power.

Others were / are addicted to money.

I wanted to think of the above article in relation to priests today  – but of course it’s not only about priests.

How much a role does compulsory celibacy play in priestly addictions?

I’m reminded of that poem

This Be The Verse


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   

    They may not mean to, but they do.   

They fill you with the faults they had

    And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   

Who half the time were soppy-stern

    And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

    It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

    And don’t have any kids yourself.

To one extent or another we were all messed up by our “caretakers”.

Those of us who are First Borns probably suffered the most?

To address these matters in ourselves and others I think we need:

1. A healthy notion of God as the “caretaker” who will never mess us up or let us down.

2. The ability to develop healthy “regulators” in our lives –



Experiencing human intimacy.

Posession of a sense of being needed and useful.

Sadly, many of these things have been lacking in priestly formation.