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Commentary: Aleister Crowley's legacy

By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion Editor

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- With the $85 million settlement for the victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, a singularly revolting chapter in the Church's 2,000-year history is drawing to a close.

It is all the more disgusting as perverted men ordained to represent Christ at the altar took advantage of the secular society's 1960s dementia to act out their fantasies -- chiefly on adolescents. Equally revolting was the clubby mindset of their overseers, who more often than not simply reassigned offending priests rather than handing them over to secular authorities for trial and punishment.

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But that's just stating the obvious. Fairness demands that one looks for the roots of this massive disaster -- a disaster, by the way, not just for Roman Catholicism but Christianity on the whole. These roots were not "Christian" by any stretch of the imagination. In fact they were distinctly anti-Christian, indeed Satanic, if one analyzes the message of the 1960s from a theological and historical perspective.

It was in the '60s that some Catholic seminaries, especially those in dioceses headed by liberal bishops, earned nicknames such as "Pink Palace" because they gave shelter to fiends while rejecting faithful young men of orthodox persuasion.

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All this is convincingly documented in Michael S. Rose's bestseller "Goodbye, Good Men."

But all this did not occur in a vacuum. It occurred in an era whose motto was "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." This axiom poisoned the Church as it did other institutions. It is worth noting who authored this maxim. It was the British writer and warlock Aleister Crowley, the self-named "Beast 666," whom Somerset Maugham described as the most evil man he has ever met.

Crowley died in 1947. But strangely, his anti-Christian worldview, his advocacy of the most appalling forms of sexual behavior, his relentless, though elegantly penned appeal to selfishness spread two decades after his death.

Check the Internet, and you will find that Crowley is still alive - with the Google search engine producing 84, 000 mentions of his name. Click on, if you can bear it, and you are swiftly linked to Web sites you do not want to know about -- the sites of the Church of Satan, of sadomasochistic, occult, atheistic and other groups which are still flourishing.

The good news is that the spirit of Crowleyism, which presented itself as an alternative religion, no longer plagues American Catholic seminaries, many of which are churning out an entirely new species of strong, manly, committed clergymen - heroes in the priesthood -- as Michael S. Rose reports in his newest book, "Priest" (Manchester: Sophia Institute Press, 2003,185 pp., $14.95).

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The priestly crimes of the 20th century will of course remain a huge blot on Catholicism's history forever, just like the Inquisition. But like the Inquisition, it was overcome, and this strengthened the church. For this Catholics and other Christians owe gratitude to the victims, who brought the scandal to the open.

As this tragedy unfolded, all kinds of advice were given to the church, including the nostrum that Rome should open the ministry to married men; that would keep the depraved out.

As a Protestant, this columnist obviously favors married pastors. In the past, the Protestant parsonage did much to shape the cultures of Europe and North America. But the sorry behavior of many of today's ministers makes it clear that the right to marry is no bulwark against sexual misconduct.

Pastors break their marriage promises, leave their children, and wind up in the arms of other women -- or men, and then expect to be consecrated bishop, calling their new relationships "sacramental."

That's Crowley talk; this is how he described his behavior.

For the Catholic Church, a settlement of $85 million is a terrible price to pay for the Crowleyism that had crept into its seminaries and parsonages. But at least it has now put an end to this aberration.

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Meanwhile, in some mainline Protestant denominations Crowleyism is alive and well -- and celebrated as a virtue, called "tolerance," while these church bodies continue to shrink. It is amazing how evil, blindness and madness have evolved into an alternative trinity.

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