The problem of the ongoing child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church continues to escalate with new revelations taking place just about every other day in various parts of the Catholic world. The Church itself seems unable to stem the flow. Whenever Pope Benedict is confronted with its victims all he is able to offer is his apologies. At the same time the church has offered little more than legalistic preventative measures that will hopefully stop future abuse by members of the clergy. But are these measures deep enough? What changes in theology are we likely to expect that will enhance and heal the lives of both victim and deviate?
Strange as it may seem such theology has been accessible for at least twenty years . Unfortunately the Church would not adopt it because it originated through the inspired words of a former Roman Catholic theologian by the name of Matthew Fox. This priest was silenced in 1988 for his denial surrounding the question of 'original sin' by none other than our present Pope Benedict XVI. What follows is my feeble attempt to summarize some of Matthew Fox's prophetic views on human sexuality and the healing theology it embraces.
Matthew Fox in his book 'The Coming of the Cosmic Christ' (1988) shares how religion has very little to tell us that is good news about sexuality, which is so special a gift of the cosmos. No rites have ever been established celebrating sexuality – the only response has been silence! There are no puberty rites, no effective rites of passage for our young to celebrate the immense news that they are now fit and able to pass on the mystery of human life. A second response to sexuality from our religions is moralizing. Telling us all the sins we are capable of performing with our sexual organs does not enlighten us about our sexuality. "In the name of moralizing, so Fox states, "the mystery of sexuality has been so often reduced to problems of morality." The Western church, following in the spirit of St. Augustine, basically regrets the fact that we are sexual, sensual creatures. "If only sexuality would go away," the message goes, "we could get on with important issues of faith."
Thankfully, Fox reminds us there is another tradition besides St. Augustine's regarding our bodiliness and deep sexual natures-the tradition of praise. It is time that the voice of the churches joined the voices of the other creatures to praise the Creator for the surprising and imaginative gift of our sexuality.
At the same time Fox warns us that the Cosmic Christ is abused when sexuality is used as a weapon to keep people down or to play our games of control or power. The Cosmic Christ is wounded when people are victims of rape, impotence, sterility, or sexual scapegoating (the projection of repressed sexuality onto sexual minorities. Among the wounds that the Cosmic Christ bears are the sexual wounds that accompany a person or group victimized by sexual oppression of any kind. The Cosmic Christ is becoming less tolerant of those who try to cover up sexuality or pretend that it is not important to psyche and to love.
In a subsequent chapter Matthew Fox introduces readers to the term 'ADULTISM' meaning the premature 'aborting' of the lives of our youth before they become adults through abuse, neglect and indifference. (Fundamentalist Pro-Life groups take note) Matthew takes readers through some staggering and disturbing statistics showing how the lives of our youth are affected through depression accidents, homicide, or suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. etc. In light of the current and unresolved sexual abuse crisis within the church in 2010 these statistics are even more worrisome and frightening.
Religious and spiritual abuse of our children has become rampant in the past few years of rising fundamentalists aggression in our culture. Rare is the teacher or minister or priest who has not encountered what I (Fox)have on numerous occasions: children of fundamentalists or young fundamentalists with no ego, no self-respect, no tolerance for diversity, no love of creation, no sense of humour, no sense of sexual identity or joy. The Cosmic Christ within them has been aborted. (Pro-Life groups take note again). Children are being deprived of a living cosmology, of an affirmation of their cosmic calling and cosmic destiny – they are experiencing another kind of abuse that of life without adventure. Where does one learn this loss of reverence for one's own divinity, one's own beauty, one's own glory – if not from those who run the society – the adults?
Then concluding his chapter Fox through the words of Dorothee Soelle prophetically (especially for today) warns "it is endemic to an unjust civilization to cover up the pain of its victims. The youth are paying a tremendous and painful price for our current civilization". The cause of their suffering: adultism.
When will this Pope, Bishop, priest or member of the Roman Catholic Church finally say, 'This is enough!'
IMPORTANT: Matthew Fox describes the term Cosmic Christ as the "pattern that connects" all the atoms and galaxies of the universe, a pattern of divine love and justice that all creatures and all humans bear with them. It is the Cosmic Christ who lives and breathes in Jesus and in all God's children, in all the prophets of religions everywhere, in all creatures of the universe.
Note: Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM is perhaps the only Roman Catholic priest today offering an effective program dealing with 'rites of passage' for men. For details visit: http://www.malespirituality.org/rites_of_passage.htm