The following is a lengthy excerpt from the book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, authored by Leon J. Podles, Ph.D. Many thanks to Mr. Podles and Charles Eby of the Crossland Foundation for allowing me to reprint this material. (Caution: contains disturbing descriptions.)
Chapter 15: ‘New Errors’
Liberation Enters the Church
…Even in the 1950s many priests studied psychology. Priests frequently deal with disturbed people, and modern psychology seems to offer insights in how to help. Psychology tends to displace theology. Therefore, the Catholic clergy have been exposed to all the trends and fads of modern psychology, including the pernicious ones of sexual liberation. When psychologists were brought in to advise nuns about their rules or to advise bishops how to deal with sexual offenders, disaster has often been the result.
Joyce Milton, who had personal experience with the humanistic psychology movement of the 1970s and 1980s, has exposed its weaknesses in her Road to Malpsychia (a word-play on Maslow’s Road to Eupsychia). Humanistic psychology “emphasized alienation from values based on the authority of revealed religion and a need for the individual to derive meaning through his search for identity and authenticity.” Carl Rogers emphasized that “neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research — neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience,” that is, his “lived experience,” a phrase that is always invoked by those who reject traditional Christian moral teaching. Presidents Higgins and Letson of St. Jerome’s University note that only three percent of young people in England think that premarital sex is wrong and criticize “the Church’s unwillingness to locate itself within the realm of lived experience,” by which they mean the Church’s unwillingness to accept the fallen reality that previous generations called “the world.”
The teaching of Carl Rogers had a massive influence on the Catholic Church in the United States, from which it has never recovered. For Rogers the therapist was only a facilitator (a word that still haunts Catholic meetings) who gave unqualified acceptance (unconditional love) to the client. Rogers, an unbeliever who had been formed in a strict but affectionate Protestant home, wanted everyone to explore and accept his deepest desires. Rogers’s deepest desires were civilized and humane, but not everyone is like him. Rogers unwisely kept reassuring people that they should have no fear about “calling up and unleashing their hidden desires.” The Jesuits wanted to get in on the act. They consulted Rogers’s associate William Coulson and discussed the new concept of the “third way between celibacy and marriage.” Coulson asked what they meant. A Jesuit replied, “It means you don’t have to marry the girl” …