Dom Mark Patrick Hederman

 Dominican Mark Patrick Hederman, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Limerick is wary of the direction in which Pope Benedict is leading the Church. 

“The Pope is calling everyone back, almost to Vatican 1. He says, ‘let’s go for a leaner church.’ In other words, weed out anyone who won’t obey the rules. 

We could end up with a fanatical church, but I don’t think many people in Ireland are going to be attracted by that, or browbeaten into returning to that.”

Hederman feels we should turn to art and beauty for our spiritual sustenance. 

He cites writers and playwrights like Brian Friel, W.B Yeats, artists like Louis le Brocquy and poets like Seamus Heaney, who can show us the work of the Holy Spirit.

Louis le Brocquy Tinkers

Above painting: Orbit Anne Madden

As an example, in 2007, when Hederman went to a retrospective exhibition by the artist Anne Madden, he saw beyond the mere objects in the paintings, and he was profoundly moved.

“It was to see what the eye has not yet imagined and which comes towards us, not as something domesticated and familiar, but as an intense feeling that edges its way towards appearance.”

So what is Hederman’s principal message?

“That we should be dancing to our own rhythms. During the 20th Century, when all those ghastly scandals and all those terrible abuses were taking place, the Holy Spirit was inspiring a number of people with the truth. And the monuments to that truth are all around us.

We should all go and visit them and revisit them, and listen and learn.”
Extract from an interview with journalist Sue Leonard

and here he talks about his book the Underground Cathedrals in an audio podcast Click here from RTE : 

I don't agree with all his views but he is well worth a listen.

Underground Cathedrals by Mark Patrick Hederman is published by Columba Press.

Click here for a useful review .

In the book, Abbot Hederman devotes some thought to sexual repression and negative views on sexuality.

He considers the influence of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on the Church's thinking on these matters at it is here that he is most critical on the legacy of the harsh teaching of the church.

He writes: ''Intercourse had to be for the purpose of procreation if it were to be free from sin. Catholic views on sexuality have been influenced by Augustine's negative approach and his glorification of the celibate state.

''Augustine believed that there was nothing rational, spiritual or sacramental in the act of intercourse. 
He saw it as intimately linked to original sin, a distortion that has blighted Catholic theology until the present day.

Sexuality, in such a framework, became identified with evil. 

To say that there can be no expression of sexual energy outside the married state is to condemn all other sexual energy to paralysis or lawlessness.''

He addresses the truly terrible issue of child abuse and the Murphy Report. He feels that in many cases those in charge, who should have known better, were, in fact, unaware of the seriousness and horror of the situation.

He writes: ''Such uninhibited scope was afforded to abusers in the Catholic Church because the people who were in charge were incapable of understanding the horrific realities which were being presented to them.

It is as if they were tone deaf or colour blind precisely because of the total absence of any sexual education or experience in their own lives.''

Yes, I have often felt very sorry for all those decent, honourable priests, nuns and brothers, the majority, who have lived exemplary lives, devoted to God and to others.

He quotes Terry Prone, who pointed out that history is now repeating itself in the last few years, ''except that instead of innocent children damaged by religious in whom their care has been vested, the victims, this time around, were innocent elderly nuns and priests and brothers and the attackers were the state, the media, the general public - and their own.''

She holds that their lack of media savvy left them defenceless against expertly broadcast expose packages on TV, radio and the newspapers, so they were ''lumped together as, if not collectively committed to perversion, brutality and money-making, at least culpable by association and shared culture''. 

In the midst of so much cruelty and suffering inflicted on innocent children it is as if Mark Patrick Hederman feels it necessary to point out that God is not to blame.

He says: ''I believe that I have a very big responsibility to defend God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in all of this. 

What has happened was in no way their doing;  all these institutions, all these aberrations were the work of human hands. 

There is God, and there always has been God, and there is always the possibility of being in touch with God, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances.''

Sam Haskins Ecology Man

He concludes: ''I have no brief whatever for the Catholic Church in Ireland in the Twentieth Century.

I abhor and detest the inhuman institutions which were created to deal with the 'unwanted' children of our so-called 'pure' and 'unadulterated' vision of ourselves as a society. 

My heart goes out to each and every one of the unfortunate children who were condemned to such inhuman institutions.''

Mark Patrick Hederman's view will shock and offend some and give hope to others.
It will certainly stimulate argument and discussion.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: