School for Scandal

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 13, 2003

Chastity is the condition of being affectively present and available to all.

When Catholics call for "education in sexuality" for priest candidates as part of the remedy for the clergy abuse crisis, do they have any idea of what, in concrete terms, is likely to be taught? The definition of chastity given above was propounded to Jesuit seminarians by Fr. David Donovan, S.J., director of formation of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, as a keystone of his 2001 workshop on "Attaining Psychosexual Maturity." Donovan used the occasion to coach young Jesuits in a contemporary understanding of their obligations as lifelong celibates. Other guidance from the same workshop notes:

  • Reinitiate dialogue with your body, your sexual feelings and desires, especially inviting forth the parts of you that are most repressed (and fostering readiness to have those surfaces will allow them gradually to present themselves).
  • Allow your sexual feelings and desires into awareness.
  • Allow yourself to focus on your emotions without judging them.
  • Thinking, fantasizing, feeling and acting are different.
  • Thinking about sex is not the same as acting sexually.
  • Sexual feelings, like all feelings, are neutral.
  • Reclaiming and owning your sexual self leads to integration, which is the basis for self-acceptance.
Factors That Inhibit Psychosexual Growth by Blocking Sexual Energy:
  • Situations that link our sexuality to:
    -- shame
    -- fear
    -- anger
    -- harm
    -- trauma
    -- anxiety
    -- physical pain
    -- unhealthy guilt
    -- incompetence
    -- violence
  • Confusion, especially around our identity.
  • Unhealthy religious formation/attitudes.
  • Excessive repression, excessive permissiveness.
  • Fear.
  • Failure to integrate feelings/emotions.

It should be obvious that no normal male beyond his twelfth birthday spends thirty seconds "befriending" his sexuality. But this genre of instruction is designed not to aid normal men in sexual abstinence but to provide gays with a vocabulary of self-acceptance and a rationale for ceaseless sexual experimentation. Straights feel baffled, alien, demoralized by this twisted anti-asceticism -- as indeed they're meant to. It can't be stressed enough: this is what you're buying with your collection plate dollars. This is what bishops and religious superiors are implementing as part of the solution.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 19, 2004 4:39 PM ET USA

    Is it just me? First, this claims that "sexual feelings, like all feelings, are neutral." But then it seems to condemn certain feelings: shame, fear, anger, trauma, anxiety, physical pain, unhealthy guilt, confusion, especially around our identity and unhealthy religious formation/attitudes. So which is it -- are all feelings neutral, or are some feelings to be avoided?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2003 3:10 PM ET USA

    This is from a Director of Formation...? For Jesuit seminarians...? Well, it certainly gives new meaning to the term 'jesuitical'...

  • Posted by: shrink - Dec. 14, 2003 1:56 PM ET USA

    Oh, and don't forget that part of the solution is also to recognize that the gay priests are really victims.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2003 1:22 PM ET USA

    Let's not get sidetracked. Its all about the children! That's A-Number One!

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2003 10:52 AM ET USA

    We should be grateful for Father Donovan's presentation. He has succeeded in putting in one place what many have intuitively understood for a long time but were immaginatively incabable of expressing without being ridiculed for paranoia. For the sake of Heaven, when will the Bishops wake up and act against such foolish clergy? This whole problem is a work of the Devil! It is as if we are living out an unwritten chapter of Benson's "Lord of the World".

  • Posted by: - Dec. 13, 2003 6:49 PM ET USA

    I have heard that nothing has changed since the scandal broke in the media. Homosexuality, I have heard , is as prevalent as ever in our Seminaries.