Jul 1, 2010

An insider's view of the decade when celibates became crazy with sex.

I was in the seminary then so I will give you an insider’s view. I was blessed to be in a religious society that emphasized chastity. St. John Bosco says, “If the Jesuits are renowned for their obedience and the Franciscans for poverty, then I want the Salesians to be specially observant of chastity.” And the Salesians of St. John Bosco got most of their vocations from their schools and minor seminaries; like apples from a tree, you get them fresh not rotten. Furthermore, I remember how rigorous our screening was. We had batteries psychological tests. More than that, the Salesians followed the practice of a “Rendiconto” – manifestation. There we met with the director and opened up everything in all candor. And these directors are highly trained and skilled in behavioral sciences. So, if there were issues then, they caught it.

My observations come from my encounters with other orders. I studied and ministered in places that were attended by non-Salesians and even lay-people and women – who most likely wanted to be ordained “when the Church is ready for them.”

Vatican II ushered new thoughts about sexuality and the body. A new theological paradigm no longer focused on the body and soul but rather consider a unified entity – a person. So, things associated with the body e.g. sexual drives are not automatically sinful; rather, they’re normal. So, people were more open about these matters. Some brothers talked about nude beaches in CA. Others mooned boys during summer camp. And the list goes on. There’s even an internationally known theologian who taught that impure actions are not sinful. They still are sinful and the theologian no longer teaches in a Catholic university.

I remember getting teased because I blushed at off-colored jokes. ( It would be nice to meet those guys now and show them my 5 kids. They should have been 8, but we had 3 miscarriages. )

In addition to that, relations with the opposite sex was also loosened up. Some orders allow their candidates to take a year off and date before continuing into theological studies. The Salesians had a practical training where the candidates worked full-time in schools, youth centers or parishes. That’s how we mingled with women. And this continued while people studied theology. I told my director about my strong attraction to women. So, I got assigned to moderate a choir of high-school girls and the Legion of Mary. But I kept my vows all that time. Others however pushed the envelope and had this “third-way” where celibates had a girlfriend. I assumed that it was kind of Platonic relationship. But I distinctly remember an exam question from my Moral theology class that goes: “If you saw a fellow seminarian come out from a single woman’s apartment early in the morning, what would you do?”

I don’t know about homosexual relationships. But, I didn’t see that. It appears that there were confreres who became particular friends. Particular friendship is more sentimental or romantic – thus carnal. We were taught to be friends with all or with none. However, there were still likes and dislikes just as jocks hanged out with other jocks et. al.

There were affirmation therapy to fix emotional scars from childhood. This is very touchy-feely so a lot of hugging.

There was art therapy.  There was an oil painting in our center made by a confrere.  It was abstract but not enough to hide the images of a couple copulating.

Bottom line, the sex abuses came out in the context of a conceptual upheaval and a cyclone of new ideas. Some folks discarded the old-school methods and disciplines and engaged in risky behavior.  There are plenty of lessons here but if I can emphasize one thing, it will be transparency.  Not the kind that we see from Obama these days, but one that is honest and open.  Afterall, one cannot hide anything from God.

Video: Islam in a secular vs. religious state. Where does terror begin?

Are Muslims pretenders?  Where they are not in power, they get along with non-Muslims.   However, as soon as they're in government, then all hell breaks loose?  It seems like the video is saying that as soon as Islam becomes the law of the land, then blasphemy laws get enforced and non-Muslims get persecuted.

Here in the states, I asked a Muslim about jihad - why non-Muslims are fair game?  The speaker told me that it is a war against oneself and not others.  I don't buy it completely.  I think that they keep jihad internally in places and situations where they have no choice.

Bottom line, the hatred for Christians and Jews are codified in their creed and writings.  That is a fact.  So, whatever is peaceful in Islam is only temporary.  Their basic tenet is to crush the infidels, the unbelievers.  And that will not change unless a reformer comes and nullifies these teachings as not divinely inspired.   If not, then even well meaning people like the Jesuit in Indonesia in the video can be lulled into a false impression and perception of what they are about - imho.

Video Description:  In those Islamic countries where Christians and Muslims are concerned with social justice and fundamental human rights, religious freedom and education is closely linked to the question of the secular state.

This was one of the many ideas that emerged during the annual meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Oasis Foundation, held June 21 to 22 in Jounieh, Lebanon. The meeting's theme: "Education between faith and culture."

In Indonesia, for example, despite the pseudo-civil war that erupted in Maluku and in the region of Poso between 1999 and 2002 and led to almost 10,000 deaths, relations between Christians and Muslims haven't suffered setbacks. In fact, they have been reinforced.

This is because the Islamization of Indonesia in recent decades was not followed by the birth of political Islam. And the majority of Muslims - who represent 87% of the country - believes that the state should not impose any kind of religious practice.

Moreover, this movement has led to isolation of extremist fringes, according to Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, an Indonesian Jesuit of German origin, who has lived in Indonesia for almost 50 years.

Padre Magnis-Suseno: “We have had in Indonesia quite a number of terrorist attacks that brought mainstream Islam in opposition to hardliners, fundamentalists, so our relations with mainstream Islam became closer because of terrorism and they are now quite isolated now in Indonesian society”.

Padre Magnis-Suseno: “I am moderately optimistic for the development of Indonesia. You know, Indonesia has now been a democracy for 12 years. We have still many weaknesses but I would say that it is strongly rooted in the Indonesian soul and I am optimistic that religious freedom and openness and a good positive general attitude will win one day in the future, in Indonesia”.

In Pakistan, however, where rights are based on Sharia law, Christians, who account for 1.6% of the population, are considered second-class citizens because they are seen as representing Western countries involved in various conflicts in the Middle East.

The country's government remains entrenched behind the excuse of the war on terrorism and upholding Islamic identity. So it opposes the abolition of rules that discriminate against non-Muslims - the so-called blasphemy law - which demands imprisonment or the death penalty for those who insult or desecrate the Koran or the name of the Prophet Muhammad.

This law has indeed become a source of continuing violence against Christians and believers of other religions, often on the basis of false accusation or motivated by partisan interests. This is according to Francis Mehboob Sada, director of the Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi and the Catholic Press Association of Pakistan.

Sada: “Blasphemy law has been misused for last many years and up till now more that 15,000 cases have been registered for this and the punishment is death. If someone is blamed for blasphemy, anybody can kill him or her and we are totally against this …

(on the web at http://divine-ripples.blogspot.com/2010/07/islam-in-secular-vs-religious-state.html )

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