Storm in the ancient city of Kilkenny


My weekly newsletter from this week told me that among the crop of new movies just released is one entitled The Dead Don’t Die. In its very brief snapshot of what the film is about it says: “Comedy/Horror: Residents of a small town must contend with a zombie outbreak.” My God, I said to myself, “That was quick. They’ve already made a movie about Friar Tom Ford’s shocking sermon to the people of Kilkenny.” Well, sorry. I know Kilkenny is not a small town. It is one of Ireland’s oldest and most beautiful cities, for a short time the seat of its parliament.

Closer examination of the new release of course assured me that this movie was not about Friar Tom, or the remarks he made about the state of our bodies after the death of grace in our souls, when afflicted by that sin which we appropriately call “mortal”. You probably have some hazy recollection of what all Christians once learned in their catechisms. The people who walked out of Fr. Tom’s church in disgust at his remarks may have forgotten that.

It struck me as a bit strange to recall that Dolores Riordan and the Cranberries had a worldwide hit a few decades ago when they said exactly the same thing about another kind of sinful activity indulged in and causing the mayhem that all sin causes in any country. Zombies was what they called those who surrendered the life of their souls to Irish Republican Army. Perhaps had Friar Tom set his words to music he might have been more effective in getting his point across. As it is he now just has everyone falling over backwards in outrage and his friends and superiors apologizing for him. He included a range of what Catholic moral teaching describes as objectively sinful behavior. One feels, of course, that his real sin was to include gay activity among these.

The gay thing is, of course, impossible to talk about now – unless you are praising the lifestyle to the skies. What is it anyway? I once wrote something by way of explanation of the Catholic Church’s teaching that it did not condemn as sinful the condition of being gay in one’s sexual orientation. A friend of mine contradicted me, explaining that in contemporary usage – I’m not an expert in the area – “being gay” was in fact a description of one who was homo-sexually active. What the Catholic Church holds, he explained to me is that homosexual orientation is not in any way sinful, so much so that it is perfectly compatible with a virtuoso and sanctified life – which was the point I was trying to make. He thought I was not being helpful by confusing the two.

Friar Ford, as he admitted himself, is something of a fan of the zombie movie genre. To his cost, he let his enthusiasm for the metaphor he saw in them go just a little bit too far. But really, was it that shocking. Literary souls like using metaphors to explain their ideas. He saw it as a way of bringing home to us all the grossness and horror of that sin which we call “mortal”, that sin which kills the life our soul. Christ called some of those of his own time who were willfully in a similar state, “whited sepulchers” – which as an image is not far from zombie. Of course his hearers were offended and outraged also. Indeed, they ended up crucifying him for his offensiveness.

There is now much ado about the latest iteration of Catholic teaching on the gender and identity issue. It clearly explains the traditional Catholic view that men and women are created with fixed gender and sexual roles. Some are complaining that it does not address the work of biologists and psychologists who grapple with the exceptional cases which give rise to confusion of identity. The Church is not a Scientific Institute. It is a moral teacher and has to offer moral guidance to every soul on the planet. It is aware of and respects the responsible work being done by scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists in this field. Indeed it uses their findings to clarify its own moral teaching as faith and reason demands. However, it is the bizarre ramblings of the LGBT theorists that have made it necessary to offer this statement of moral teaching to poor bewildered humanity at this time.

At the root of all the confusion, of course is the poison inflicted on society and our civilization by the neo-Marxist definitions of our nature which spawned the sexual revolution. Sexual sin no longer exists. Pharmaceutical development and technological development – although they have brought great goods to mankind have combined together to poison our vision of what it is to be truly human. Together they have led us to a place where sexual abuse, promiscuity, abortion, pornography are corrupting individual human beings in their millions. As a consequence they are corrupting our society by destroying the family. That dual corruption, unless it is arrested, will end in utter chaos. If a bit of outrage in a Kilkenny Friary helps bring us back to our sense of what is really right and wrong, I can live with a bit of outrage.

Is this where the gay narrative finally begins to crack up?

As another corrupt narrative seeks to assert itself in the canon of political correctness we may be tempted to ask ourselves if this might not be the beginning of the unraveling of an earlier narrative which has been poisoning our culture for nearly half a century.

Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend suggests that while “there really is now no shortage of evidence about the harm done by child abuse” we should still ask ourselves if, in the context of the latest frenzy about the crimes of the past, it is not worth watching whether we could, in the future, go back to the intellectual climate which allowed them.

What is he telling us? His article is revealing an open secret: that there has been, and there currently is, an under-the-radar current in the academic world which is seeking to destigmatise paedophilia. Gilligan accepts that academic inquiry is supposed to question conventional wisdom and to deal rigorously with the evidence, whether or not the conclusions it leads you to be popular. He is right about that and the academic discourse which he is revealing to us – and which many will find shocking – may well be doing us just such a service.

Liberal society is confused, profoundly confused, by the phenomenon of paedophilia. On the one hand it demands what it calls sexual liberation and the right for all to express their sexual preferences as they chose to do so. On the other hand they cannot be seen to tolerate the sexual abuse of minors. The twisting and turning being recounted in Gilligan’s article in the Telegraph reflects this quandary at the heart of today’s dominant culture.

“Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” and “At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children”. These are two quotations from a conference held in the University of Cambridge this time last year. At the same conference one of the presentations was entitled “Liberating the paedophile: a discursive analysis.”  Another was: “Danger and difference: the stakes of hebephilia.” Hebephilia, it appears is the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) produces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is a standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals.  The APA has rejected a proposal to include hebephilia as a disorder in the new edition of the manual. The proposal arose because the age at which children now reach puberty has come down in recent decades.  As a result many more children were now becoming vulnerable because charges of paedophilia – pre-pubertal sexual attraction – could not be brought against child abusers.

Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the new manual, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal”.

Some of those who successfully defeated the effort to change the definition said hebephilia would be abused as a diagnosis to detain sex offenders as “mentally ill” under US “sexually violent predator” laws even after they had completed their sentences.

The real shock-wave at the conference came from Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan. Dealing with the “prevalence of paedophilia” he stated that the “majority of men are probably paedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males”.

All of this is deeply unsettling to the liberal mind. The liberal left’s house of cards is falling apart because of a fundamental flaw in modernity’s analysis of the human condition. Its search for a solution to their quandary is a doomed one.  By identifying this as an exclusively biological and/or psychological issue the search has tied itself up in knots. The problem is a moral one and if they were not locked in their relativistic prison they might have some chance of seeing that.

Gilligan observed that last week, after the conviction of Rolf Harris, the report into Jimmy Savils’s years of predatory activity, and claims of an establishment cover-up to protect a sex-offending minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, Britain went into a convulsion of anxiety about child abuse in the Eighties. But, he added, unnoticed amid the furor is a much more current threat: attempts, right now, in parts of the academic establishment to push the boundaries on the acceptability of child sex.

He pointed out that a key factor in what happened all those decades ago in the dressing rooms of the BBC, the wards of the NHS and, allegedly, the corridors of power was not just institutional failings or establishment “conspiracies”, but a climate of far greater intellectual tolerance of practices that horrify today.

Norman Tebbit, a confidant of Margaret Thatcher and a minister at the very heart of her Government said on the BBC on Sunday that there “may well” have been a cover-up of abuse implicating politicians in the 1980s. Lord.Lord Tebbit added: “At that time I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected and if a few things had gone wrong here and there that it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it.” Asked if he thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, he said: “I think there may well have been. But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.”

It is a separate story, but I wonder if the media will pursue the political establishment in his instance as they pursued every sniff of scandal in the Catholic Church, right up to the hounding of the Pope himself.

Gilligan reminds us that in that era, on the Left, there we many for whom the prohibition on sex by or with children was just another repressive boundary to be swept away – and some of the most important backing came from academia. With the Pill, the legalisation of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, the Seventies was an era of quite sudden sexual emancipation.

It is here that the crux of the inherent contradiction within modernity’s reading of modern man lies. Is our culture’s corrupt narrative about sexuality now about to fall apart?

Sexuality is a force within us that modernity has placed at the centre of the meaning of our lives. In doing so modernity legitimizes all those things that Gilligan lists. But the reality is that it is Love that is at the centre of all that gives meaning to our existence. Sex is just one of many modes through which we may realize that great centre-piece. Modernity has grossly equated sex with love and demanded a freedom for it which subordinates all else to it. With this identification come demands for all those inter-related things which have been tearing us and our society apart – the destruction of monogamous marriage, divorce, co-habitation, the redefinition of marriage out of existence, abortion, the destruction of the family, and many more.

This current flash-point around paedophilia brings an inherent fallacy into focus for us. Sexuality is a constant in human nature. It is a good of enormous significance. But like so many goods – even the goods of the earth itself – it is open to exploitation. In the frenzied effort – more frenzied every day – of modernity to elevate sex to the status of that which gives meaning to our existence, every form of sexual activity imaginable has been brought into the canon of the acceptable and allowable.

All decaying and decadent civilizations have ended up in this kind of morass. This one is an exception only insofar as it is attempting to cover is abuses of sexuality in a veneer of equality, legality and sanctimonious rights jargon. Nature is not fooled. Neither is logic. The narrative that homosexuality is something innate is breaking down in the face of the contorted thinking about paedophilia now being agonised over.

There are two sexes, male and female. There are varying intensities of sexuality experienced by humans and different experiences when it comes to sexual attraction. In some cases these produce confusion but if we are responsible we will deal with these confusions in a rational and sensible way.

The husband who experiences attraction to a woman who is not his wife can deal with it in two ways – surrender to that attraction and act the maggot, or restrain himself and be faithful to his promises. There is no doubt but that some humans find this a bigger struggle than others – just as some find it more difficult to control their temper. In neither case is difficulty a valid excuse for behaving badly.

The same goes for humans experiencing same sex attraction and for those who experience paedophiliac attraction. Decadent western society has created a narrative to make the adulterer happy. It is called divorce. It has also created a narrative for the person indulging his or her same-sex attraction. It is called homosexuality and is being legitimatized by the redefining of marriage. The search is already on to create a narrative for those who wish to indulge their sexuality in other ways. This is all madness and nothing more than a symptom of decadence.

We have now reached the last frontier and modernity is hitting the buffers. It is unlikely – at least this side of total degeneracy – that we will cross this last frontier any time soon. But if we continue to pander to our lusts we surely will.

The way forward for the rational and sane can only be the restoration of human virtue and the best code of morality the world has ever seen, that based on the teaching of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.