Michael Moloney and
St Augustine’s Sin of Blame
The creed that grooms, with carnal stainMichael Moloney, 2020
From St Augustine’s Sin of blame,
Makes Christian children fairer game.
Then, self-reproachful prayers ingrain
These fledgling minds, with guilt and shame;
While priests abuse them, in God’s name.
I was raised in a Roman Catholic community. As soon as I could speak, my mother told me what all Christian infants are told, that I was born with original sin and I had been baptised to wash the sin out. Later in life I learned that original sin is St Augustine’s mark of guilt for concupiscence (sexual lust), which to some extent survives baptism. When I started my own family, Augustine’s idea that children were contaminated by the lust of their parents in conceiving them, was hideous and repugnant.
Studies such as that by William Armstrong Percy III, author of Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece (1996), show that sex between men and pubescent boys was common in the time and locus of St Augustine. Originating in Crete in the eighth century BC, what we now call child abuse spread in ancient times, and sodomy was widely practiced by adult men on boys throughout the Roman Empire, as illustrated in art of the period. A fine example is the Warren Cup from the first century AD, a Roman artifact now in the British Museum. The Warren Cup is decorated in relief with explicit images of a bearded man having sex with a young boy. Pre-pubescent sex has never been acceptable. The goalposts have moved forward as societies have become enlightened and today the age of consent is sixteen in the UK. Did St Augustine sodomise infants? He thought infants were imbued with lust. Researching Augustine and his theology I found many echoes of his writings in the recorded testimonies of convicted child abusers.
Attitudes have rightly changed in most parts of the world, but less so for priests according to Thomas Doyle, author of Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse (2006). Reading about the dithering of the Vatican in response to the disclosures of clerical child abuse, I thought back to my childhood, the behaviour I witnessed and the instruction I received in Christian guilt and blame. Existing literature offers unconvincing rationalisations for child abuse, while my recollections of Church drill and doctrine point to an elephant in the ecclesiastical room.
From the time I could hold a pen I have kept a diary in which I scribble anything that catches my interest. Although my notes were never a strict chronological record of events, some of my early journals survive to trigger memories of my boarding school days. These recollections provided a good starting point for laying out the evidence with the authenticity and authority of someone thoroughly involved in the Christian community. With the Vatican decrying critics of the church as ‘Friends of the Devil’, I felt obligated to use my fusion of life experiences to report my observations of the effects of Christian indoctrination of blameworthiness and sin on the minds of susceptible clerics and impressionable young people.
Recovery from inculcated guilt and culpability has been a lifelong journey for me. I hope the insights I can offer will help address negative thinking and assist other apostates who may be disturbed by feelings of guilt or blame. Some ideas are on my Healing page, and you can find further information available at the links below.
Note: Michael Moloney is a precautionary pseudonym.