I began this blog-piece in response to an apologist piece on the ABC's religious news page which claimed that the scale of the Catholic Church's paedophilia scandal led to the inevitable conclusion that it was suffering from 'institutional atheism'. That churchmen 'were behaving as if God did not exist'.
While this is clearly an insult to atheists everywhere, it's also a complete misunderstanding of the dynamics at play here. The Church is not just any organisation. Its purpose and premise demand that we look deeper and consider the Church on its own ground. We have to ask, what exactly is it at the core of the Church's evil, and in the light of the global revelations of decades of violent abuse, it can only be evil, says about that edifice?
The unspoken issue so far in the Church's response to the exposure of entrenched and systemic paedophilia, and the endless revelations of decades of physical and emotional abuse of those in its care, is the spiritual cost. The damage to souls that are the Church's ultimate pastoral responsibility. Allow me to explain.
The fundamental spiritual significance of the death and resurrection of Christ has three main elements:
# 1. The end of the Blood Rite as the primary spiritual technology.
# 2. The cultural shift to the Mediated Rite - the symbolic sacrifice of the Mass.
# 3. The triumph of the human soul over the death of the body. Christ's incarnate soul becoming 'excarnate' at his death on the cross, and incarnate again before the opening of the tomb around 36 hours later (proving the immortality of the soul, and it's primacy over the body as the 'essential self' of the human experience).
It's the first of these that's spiritually significant in terms of paedophilia and the systematic abuse of the weak and victimised within the Church.
The Blood Rite was the original form of guaranteed connection with the 'next world' and the world of the Gods. In essence it works like this. When a ritual death is enacted, when the Winter King, or the Chosen One is formally and ritually murdered the Soul leaves the body and makes its way to the next world.
Originally this meant a human sacrifice, later an animal victim.
Originally this meant a human sacrifice, later an animal victim.
When this ritual slaughter happens, a hole, a gateway, is opened between that world and this, and the skilled magical practitioner (a.k.a priest) can put his hand through that opening, bringing things from that world to this, or sending messages from this world to that.
This can mean bringing divine knowledge, wisdom or truth from the Gods to earth, which is the basis for all ancient religion's use of augury, reading the future from the entrails of a sacrificed animal. Or it can mean sending prayers, spells, or requests for assistance to the Gods in a way they cannot ignore.
Either way, ripping a soul from a body is a powerful magical tool; the ultimate mechanism for powerful magic. The awful shock to the soul of a bloody and painful death to a conscious victim causes a trauma that can't be beat for ripping open a connection with the spirit world.
OK, I hear you say, that's weird, and possibly nauseating, but so what? What has it got to do with abuse in the Church? Let me explain.
The Blood Rite still works. When Christ invented the symbolic sacrifice of the Mass, and went on to sacrifice himself as a final act of atonement for the whole human race it became unnecessary to kill anything to connect with the Gods. But it didn't in any way eradicate or de-power the Blood Rite as an effective magical tool. It may be old technology, but it still works.
In the New World thousands were slaughtered in Mayan blood rituals as recently as the 15th century. In the Western Magical Tradition variations on the blood rite are still a guarantee of at least partial success (if you know what you're doing). And it still follows the principle that the more conscious the creature that you kill the more powerful and effective the spell. Human sacrifice will still be more effective than animal sacrifice as a human being is more conscious of the painful progress and ultimate end of ritual murder than an animal.*
But human sacrifice is messy, and of course illegal. And there's always the problem of what to do with the body. But there is an alternative. A way of causing a trauma to the soul that can open up that rift, that can allow the skilled and unprincipled magical practitioner to re-use the same victim again and again. And that's the ritual abuse of an innocent.
If you ritually rape a child you cause the kind of psychic and spiritual damage that can achieve the same magical effect as a ritual murder. Only, generally speaking, the life force in a child is powerful enough to keep the child alive and more or less functioning afterward. The same energy that gives children the ability to heal rapidly when injured can help the child 'recover' mentally, with memory growing a scab over the wound and burying the damage deep within. It may mean the child becomes more peculiar or eccentric. It probably means that they will become prey to depression, despair and mental illness as they grow older, if they survive that long. It certainly means that they will be only too vulnerable to the predatory behaviour of other paedophiles, rapists and opportunist bastards that our society has in abundance.
And yes, this is what's known as Black Magic.
This is what Black Magic looks like. Some magical practitioners will tell you that there's no black or white magic, it's just a spiritual technology. Which is true enough ~ for a given value of 'truth' at least: Magic doesn't kill people, people kill people. But it's this 'no good, no bad, just energy' Manichean view that gets a lot of magical neophytes/cult fodder into trouble in the first place. Spiritual subjection in a cult causes the same type of damage to the soul, if more slowly and rarely to the same extent. In a cult it's usually a parasitic rather than predatory form of spiritual abuse, based on domination and slow spiritual degradation. But the spiritual mechanics, the metaphysics, are the same.
And it's this same principle that's the spiritual elephant in the room in the abuse of children by priests. The damage they do isn't just physical and psychological, it's spiritual. Clerical child abuse is profoundly spiritually destructive. And it has never been raised in any discussion or analysis of the problem or the Church's response to it that I've come across.
Do the priests involved understand this spiritual issue? Do their bishops? Is it a conscious part of what they do to children? Is their predatory behaviour spiritually sharpened? Are they consciously performing a twisted form of sacrifice when they abuse children? These are, after all, men for whom the spiritual is their raison d'être. Can they really do what they do in ignorance of its darker spiritual aspects? And does the Church hierarchy understand the implications?
From my own experience I know of one case in particular that may illuminate. A child who had been a victim of the kind of 'black magic' ritual abuse I describe above spoke about it in confession. That priest took advantage of that information. Among the vile things he did was to rape the child in an empty Church while reciting the Lord's Prayer. With particularly heavy emphasis on the 'forgive us our trespasses' part. So there was at least an awareness of the risk to his own soul, if no concern for the child's soul, which was presumably already the plaything of the Devil.
In the late 1990s the Vatican sent a Cardinal around the world to collect testimony from victims of clerical child abuse. This victim described in detail what had occurred. I find it almost impossible to believe that the spiritual implications weren't fully understood by a Prince of the Church. So the Church knows, or should know.
Yet not a word is ever said. No compassion ever evident. No openness about what such spiritual corruption, such outright heresy has done to the Church, if not just to its victims. Only a closing of ranks around men who have perverted not just the social standing of the Church but seriously compromised its spiritual core. If the Church stands for anything it stands on the purity of its spiritual connection to the Godhead. Without it there is nothing but a shabby collection of men with a liking for power, baubles and dressing up.
And on the basis of the evidence, the endless global outpouring of cruelties, predatory abuse, and deliberate and callous brutalising of the innocent, this monstrous spiritual cess-pit is not, cannot possibly be the workings of a compassionate loving God.
And if not God, then whom?
'Institutional atheism' is a ludicrous conceit.
I'm sure we can find a more precise definition.
* To intensify the shock and trauma involved the black magician Aleister Crowley recommended torturing the chosen animal to increase its fear and suffering before the final killing.