This Irish Times piece gives prophetic words from the former abbot of Glenstal monastery. Moralising will not help us understand the wave of sexual harassment and child abuse cases that have emerged nationally and internationally, says Mark Patrick Hederman, former abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Glenstal, Co Limerick.

Instead, he believes we must look at the human passions that connect people such as Harvey Weinstein and Tom Humphries.

“We’ve had three philosophers of the 20th century that decided there are only three basic energies that move us all. One is power, the other is sex, and the other is money.”

While this does not capture the full picture, “it’s a good beginning... The world goes round because of sex, said Freud; or money for Marx, and power for Nietzsche,” he says.

“The church had found that out in the Middle Ages and they said: ‘We’ll put three stops on those three things – poverty, chastity, and obedience.’ So they put vows over them. It was like putting a manhole over the sewer. It doesn’t work like that.”


Fr Hederman, who last year completed his term as abbot at Glenstal, ruffled some feathers in the Catholic Church last week when he appealed to priests to stop calling their bishops “spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits”. Next week, he is giving a talk at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre entitled “what Ireland needs to nurture its soul”.

Speaking to The Irish Times in advance, he says religion is “absolutely essential for us. Connecting with the spiritual is vital to our whole culture now and when it disappears you’re into drugs and alcohol, everything that will block everything, or suicide”. Or criminal activity, he adds.

“With Kevin Spacey and all these people, you get to a point where your whole life is destroyed. Tom Humphries again. We’re all moralising about this and saying: ‘Oh these are the lowest of low.’ The real truth is what were those people looking for? I don’t know but it is a religious problem, that’s what I’m saying.”


This reminds me of a quotem from Canon Andrew White, former 'Vicar of Baghdad': 'When religion goes bad, it goes very, very bad, and only religion can solve it.'


It is not about “judging or condemning – it’s a finding out. And I’m absolutely certain in every one of those cases it’s spiritual. In other words, those people were trying to achieve something at a level which was carnal and which should have been spiritual.”

The idea “that we can all sit and moralise about it and say, ‘Oh they are dreadful’, I mean, that’s all of us. We’re all in the same boat. It’s not as if they are monsters. These are all people and we’ve all got the same humanity.”