Mary Condren, writes in the Irish Times on how theology can support sexual abuse.
Pope Benedict's recent comments regarding paedophilia, alongside the recent Murphy report, leave one breathless. How can those who dedicate their lives to goodness hold such views and protect those who act upon perverse impulses? Could theology have any role to play?
When the fourth-century Augustine (later Bishop of Hippo and saint) was brutally beaten in school, he showed his parents his “stripes”. They laughed: what else could a schoolchild expect?
Suffering, knowledge and power were inseparable: the young Augustine’s body (like that of many others) was being brutalised for the sake of the new Christian empire.
The adult Augustine’s Confessions, widely regarded as a Christian classic, are filled with self-loathing and shame. He (and many others) developed sophisticated theologies of atonement, suffering, grace and redemption.
The brutalised body on the cross rather than the innocent child in the manger, or Jesus, the radical incarnation of mercy and love, became the dominant icon of Christianity. The sadistic and sacrificial manner of Jesus’s death, rather than his gracious, benevolent and merciful life, became the dominant narrative.
In the new Christian empire, Jesus had become effectively the “poison container” for humanity.
Read it all here.
Agree? Disagree? What Christian narrative would be life-giving? Can it include the cross?