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Sister Lucia of Fatima once said that our modern time was experiencing a "diabolical disorientation."

That was said in the middle of the last century and in fact the 1960s saw a fantastic infusion of evil into our real, as spirits of rebellion, crime, lust, perversion, pharmaceia (drugs), wayward music, disoriented artwork, the occult, psychic phenomena, pornography -- especially sexual sin -- came flooding into society like a tsunami.

This comes to mind with a major recent study sponsored by the United States bishops indicating that the horrific sexual abuse crisis among Catholic and other clergy involved those who, in the words of one news report about the study, "came from seminary classes of the 1940s and 1950s who were not properly trained to confront the upheavals of the 1960s, when behavioral norms were upended and crime overall in the United States spiked.

We have been saying this for years: that at the root of the sexual abuse crisis was the wave of evil that infected every segment of society and seemed to specialize in wanton sex during the mid-to-late 1960s and into the 1970s, when it virtually became an institutionalized aspect of our culture.

The spirit affected those in seminaries, rectories, monasteries, universities, and convents, and in our view hit with particular force because it coincided with a weakening in the Church's spiritual-warfare components -- notably deep devotions to the Blessed Mother, reverent liturgies (which were in the process of becoming more oriented to priests than to Jesus), and the prayer at the end of Mass to the Archangel Michael. That all joined with a stripping of teachings about exorcisms and mystical theology from seminaries.

We see the result: a satanic infiltration of the priesthood, and in our view, in most or at least many cases, it didn't seem like a case of wolves in sheep's clothing so much as what Sister Lucia said: a diabolical disorientation.

Our clergy was "sorely vexed."

Priests who had no indications or appearances of homosexuality -- nor any waywardness -- were suddenly swept into just that.  Data show that abuse incidents were "highest between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s," the report noted. "Ninety-four percent of the abuse incidents reported to the Catholic Church from 1950 through 2009 took place before 1990," it said.

It was what was affecting all segments of the West. "There's no indication in our data that priests are any more likely to abuse children than anyone else in society," said Karen Terry, principal investigator for the report, at a news conference where the report was released Wednesday, according again to news reports. No doubt: homosexuality played a role; men who were really heterosexual were deceived by the evil one into unmanly inclinations, as the Sixties spirit skewed genders with not just homosexuality but also radical feminism.

Sex? Everyone was doing it -- illicitly. It was the Age of Hefner. It was the age of "liberation." We are still feeling the results -- and in fact they have never waned.

Priests fell to the temptation. We have also warned that some have been falsely accused, and we continue to be suspicious of certain claims that erupt from a person who suddenly recalls abuse by a priest four or five decades ago.

Recently, there have been cases of priests cleared, at least in homosexual cases involving youngsters (it never was actual "pedophilia"). In other cases, priests who initially seemed victims of a persecution have admitted guilt.

It is all a part of what society has been swept into -- a disorientation that has made wrong right and right wrong and good out of fashion and in some cases (see the arrest of pro-lifers) against the law. The clear fact is this: during the 1960s and with increased momentum since, priests and everyone else has been positively surrounded and in fact inundated with lascivious images on the cover of magazines, suggestive news stories, sultry commercials, ribald Super Bowl ads, pounding carnal music, libertine philosophy, lurid supermarket magazines, nudie publications like Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, off-color TV shows, sexy soap operas, tasteless billboards, X-rated movies, sex-drenched Hollywood dramas, online pornography, evocative music,  sex novels, provocative newspaper ads, news items constantly making free sex seem like the new norm, sex-themed Broadway plays, and so forth.

Surrounded by this, of course they were affected.

Everyone was.

Does that excuse it?

It certainly does not. The Church was dramatically behind the curve in noticing the effects and dealing with them; it too was swept up; it made the drastic mistake of wanting to be worldly. It "opened the window" (to use a Vatican II term) to society and we see what came in. We only recently received a horrendous first-hand account of how a priest in Upstate New York serially abused boys -- boys whose lives were no doubt dramatically affected. It is inconceivable to think that such men consecrated the Host. At LaSalette, it was said an apparition of Mary warned about the insertion of evil into convents. It swept over us all. Laymen should be given great credit for knowing the foundation of Catholicism and sticking with it despite what so many priests -- so many -- did.

Yes, some were wolves in sheep's clothing. Some are still out there. Some have been falsely accused. Others hope they will be thought of as falsely accused, when they have not.

It says this to the Church: close the window. Go back to your roots. Forget being hip. Forget modern philosophy.

And it says to society: stop pointing fingers at the Church and start pointing fingers at yourself.

[next: political disorientation]

[see also: Bishops' study concludes scandals were caused by Sixties social upheaval]

[resources: Tower of Light]

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