Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Former abbot warns against dangers of moralising

Pandemic of sex abuse is a ‘religious problem’, says ex-head of Glenstal

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.
‘Lowest of the low’
“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.”
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.”
In Ireland, he says, “we’ve had a huge liberation but the trouble is that every culture – no matter what you’re talking about – they all had a taboo about incest”. That was now gone, he says. “We had a culture here and it was very repressive but at least it was a taboo.”

Nowadays, “every child in fifth year wants a child, and they don’t want a husband either. ‘We’ll get a sperm bank.’ We’ve gone to a stage now where it’s so completely devoid of all notion of morality, everything. It really is a tsunami.”
He says: “There’s a pandemic now of child abuse and incest and actually what people are looking for is that rebirth which is in Christianity . . . Most people are looking for a second half of life, something which will allow them to be reborn and many of them see that in a child or they see it in a younger person.
“What’s so terrible is that instead of actually finding the religious answer to that – which is to do with going to another level symbolically to become reborn – they’re allowing their instincts and their impulses to lead them into crime.”
Psychologically speaking, he says: “Incest is actually calling us. It’s part of mid-life. It’s one of the most experienced fantasies in people’s lives and it’s calling them to the second half of their life. It’s calling them to the rebirth which Christianity and every other religion talks about”.
Raising the Humphries case, he felt the coverage in The Irish Times “was a kind of overreaction, where you’re kind of guilt-ridden or something like that”. Humphries “is a human being. He is destroyed at the moment and he becomes a kind of scapegoat and he becomes the pariah. All of that is wrong in terms of society.”

He felt “we’re not dealing with the situation. We’re actually sensationalising it and making it a form of entertainment.” Instead “of just punishing people and moralising about it and condemning them, it’s a question of making them understand so that they can move on.
“It’s certainly possible. The big, big religious movement of the 20th century was the AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] and the basic principle of that was that you have to recognise what you’ve done.”
A “sympathetic counsellor – that’s what you need to have. Locking people up in prison where they torture one another, that doesn’t do any good at all. They’re pariahs when they come out and nobody wants to have them in their vicinity.”
There has to be “an attempt to reintegrate them to their own humanity and that’s what spirituality is. That’s what the incarnation is about: that we are human beings but there is a hope and that there is nobody without hope.”
In general, “we’ve gone from one extreme to another and we’re using very blunt instruments – a legal situation where one size fits all – for dealing with things which really require very careful and very personal counselling”.
Mark Patrick Hederman will speak on What Ireland needs to nurture its soul at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre, 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 22nd. http://smockalley.com
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


The words of Dom Hederman seem a bit confusing at times - and at other times they are asking important questions.

Some of his statements are very sweeping like:

Nowadays, “every child in fifth year wants a child, and they don’t want a husband either. ‘We’ll get a sperm bank.

I do not think that EVERY FIFTH YEAR wants a baby and wants a baby without having a husband.

In my experience, young girls and woman of that age are very romantic and want to find a young man to love and marry - and perhaps have children with. I don't think that many young girls of this age are thinking about sperm banks?

I think he will anger the parents of fifth-year girls with his generalizations?

He is right in saying that, for most people, sex, money and power are strong motivators. 

Most people want to have sex, enough money to live on - and many people like to have power.

But there is nothing wrong or immoral about the proper use of all three. 

I agree that spirituality is very important for a meaningful life.

But there are other spiritualities than religion?

And, there is no conflict at all between an authentic spirituality and a good and healthy sex life.

I tried to address this topic in my 2005 book - A SEXUAL LIFE - A SPIRITUAL LIFE (still available on Amazon and Kindle).

My chapters include chapters:




I include a quote from a Sherward A. Treadwell:

"Passion between the covers of a book
May come in the form of the undraped body of
Anybody's whore.
Or the naked form of
A man hanging from a
Cross-armed tree
Disarmingly unarmed,
Save for the look of love"

The good Abbot Emeritus is right to point out that sexuality and spirituality belong together.

But not all sexual criminals are lacking spirituality.

Some of them are just bad or twisted men and women.

For instance, all priest abusers had spent six years being "formed" spiritually by the Catholic Church!

And some of those were Dom Hederman's fellow Benedictine monks!


  1. Never read such rubbish.Has he found what he is looking for?
    A man who was a Benedictine monk—�— you know those monks who have had a rather dubious history—�— now pontificating about spiritualism.
    What utter tripe.....he hasn’t a clue about how young women tick.
    Is he just talking about men when he talks about power.
    Surely he is in no position to be giving talks if he was locked up in a monastery all his life.

  2. Two men being ordained in Dublin today according to the journal.ie

  3. Some very confused thinking in Hederman's remarks. Some of it is correct and some is dangerously misleading. That "Fifth - form girls" remark is exactly the argument we often get put up by the man when we confront a paedophile who has been approaching young girls online. "Society doesn't allow you, dear to have what you really want.. and I am here to rescue you.... 'I is very insidious and deep-seated in the paedophile way of justifying his abuse. The" incest is natural.. "is another common idea that they try to instil in the young person's mind especially if they are a father, brother or uncle to the child. It takes stable and highly trained and experienced Staff in prison etc to deal with paedophilia otherwise they will actually cause damage mentally even to their carers and others with whom they argue and exchange ideas and some adults can be easily influenced. My advice re/Hederman is handle with caution. Big time..

  4. Newspaper articles don't always best reflect a persons views. Things sometimes get ascribed greater or less importance and the context can be lost or misplaced. I don't know, but it strikes me Dom Hederman may have been rather "Freewheeling" with his thoughts, ok if it's in your mind or with other peers, but perhaps not for a journalist!
    It may be more authentic to critique Dom Hederman quoting from his published works.

    I do think he's one of the good guys, like yourself Pat.

  5. MP Hederman is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, packaged in a quandary.

    It was good to see him, nevertheless, deliver a good kick in the rocks to the association of contrary/compromised priests (ACCP).

    I hear there was virtual pandemonium at their AGM with Hederman, when the cranky bunch were told a few home truths.

    The Irish Times, of course, are not reporting what really happened.

    Wee Patsy (by name and by nature) is sticking to Hoban and Flannery’s censored and sanitised version of events. But my sources say it was absolutely great gas altogether!

    Tony ‘do I detect the aroma of burning martyr?’ Flannery was flabbergasted! Hoban was calving!

    Apparently Abbot Hederman told whiney Hoban he was the most negative man who ever drew breath. LOL!

    I wonder is it on YouTube?

    1. Hederman told the ACCP 'a few home truths' at its AGM? Now THAT's what I call bona fide 'fake news'!

      Speaking 'truth' to reality is scarcely worthy of congratulation. Amusement, perhaps; but nothing more.

      What passes for truth purely in Hederman's head is surreal enough to pass for Lewis Carroll fantasy.

    2. Oh don’t be so bloody pedantic all the time, Magna Carta. In any case, you are high up there with him in the fantasy levels. ROFL.

    3. At 10:49
      If you had a fraction of Brendan Hoban’s analytical ability, breadth of reference and literary powers people might be more incline to heefmd what you write. Bile is not an argument.

    4. At 20:13, yeah right. Howiya Brendan! PMSL!

    5. Hoban’s “analytical ability, breadth of reference and literary powers”???

      Ah holy sweet Jaysus.

    6. So, 16:25, we're agreed that Hederman is a fantasist?😆

  6. I'm glad you too found the abbot's comments confusing Pat. It's so full of non sequiturs I began to wonder what planet this man lives on! Anon @ 09:37 nicely sums his fallacies up with the advice 'Handle with caution: big time' Spot on 09:37!
    Take his comment in the seventh paragraph: "Connecting with the spiritual is vital to our whole culture....and when it disappears you're into drugs and alcohol....." Words fail me here so I won't begin!

  7. Yes, there was certainly a lot of verbal diarrhoea that day! - - But I reiterate poster @ 9.37 - - "Handle with caution". Some dangerous tripe amidst the more conventional viewpoints.

  8. Another confused, and dangerously outspoken Roman Catholic cleric who just doesn't 'get' it. 'Get' what? That people need clericalised religion as much as they need a dose of the 'clap'.

    On the developing clerical sex scandals, an Australian priest had this advice for fellow priests, including bishops: 'just shut up'.

    Yes, shut up. The last thing the world needs now are priests who, given the terrible sex scandals that have unfolded, actually believe themselves still a voice of moral authority.

    Abbot Hederman, you mentioned or intimated just three vows: chastity, poverty and obedience. There is a fourth, and, for Roman Catholic clerics, it should rank far above these three in importance: SILENCE.

    Be silent, Abbot Hederman, for all our sakes, but mostly for yoyr own. Because every time a Roman Catholic cleric opens his big 'gob' to pontificate to the world, I just can't help... ROTFL!😅

  9. And we Magna can't help ROTL(DS) -rolling around the floor not with laughter but DEEP DISTRESS at your self absorbed condescension and smartness - and typical racist comments. You must be close now to utter loneliness that you befriend this blog so often. I have more respect for Dom Mark Hedermann than I'd ever give you.

    1. 13:58, judging by the comments thus far, you're the only poster who thinks this way of Hederman.

      What was that you were saying about loneliness?

  10. Hederman is what is known in the highest(and lowest!) echelons of debating circles as a-- -wait for it! - - blether.. He has all three characteristics of a blether. (I`ll leave readers to think them out... I'm sure you won't be far wrong!)

  11. 13 .58
    Please do not include me in your WEE.
    I post often , not lonely and have great regard for MC insight and knowledge
    I’m sure M C won’t lose any sleep thinking of your comments.

    1. You’re in a minority 16:12 because most people are thoroughly sick of the vicious, opinionated, haughty old troll MC.

      Are you his Mummy?

    2. So you know most who post here?

      Imagine knowing anonymous posters!!!!!!!!!!
      Please address the post not the poster.
      Jealousy of M C popularity and his knowledge is rife amongst th e trolls here.

    3. Not his mum, just an admirer..O K

    4. My oh my, it seems that the old troll Carta is gathering a little tribe of mini trolls! ROFL!

    5. There are people who admire MC's insight and knowledge! That's hilarious! For once I am happy to quote Magna himself and say that some commenters here really are stupid if they're taken in by that clown.

    6. There are people who admire MC's insight and knowledge! That's hilarious. I can only paraphrase Magna himself and say that some commenters here really are stupid if they're taken in by that clown!

  12. I wonder when they last had a novice in Glenstal? How does the vow of poverty elide into providing fee-paying education for the rich, instead of opening a comprehensive school for the locals?

    Because it's a nice little earner, convinces the monks that they are doing the labors thing, and it keeps the monks in the style to which they have become accustomed.

    And wasn't the same rent-a-quote ex-Abbot content to be a deacon until the Abbatial election was held, at which time he suddenly discerned a vocation to the priesthood.

    What a cynic.

    1. There may be a canonical requirement that an abbot be a priest?

      Talk is that Hederman is Look Iooking a mitre- Cork, Galway or even Dublin?

    2. There is a canonical requirement for an abbot to be a priest. It isn't that unusual for a monastery to elect a non-priest monk abbot, who is then ordained before his blessing.
      Of course St Benedict himself is thought not to have been a priest - so the statues showing him in full pontificals have got it dead wrong.

    3. (Sigh!!!!) Jesus is the only priest. (If we must use that pointless word.)

    4. Have a read of the catechism.

  13. Is Herdman Irish ?
    Pat was there any comments on the article?
    I’ve overread my article allowances this week.
    I would have thought that people would have been shocked at his article.

  14. They have quite a few novices. Usually the type that are quite socially acceptable.
    What was the Abbot's role in the monk/priest against whom a false allegation was made? That monk is no longer there and was, apparently, dealt with dreadfully.
    The former Abbot is not getting any hat. The current abbot wont be getting any hat either. Another former Abbot (two abbots ago) was earmarked for his native Dublin. Abbot Dillon. He didn't get it either. For all their talk, they're not that well educated from a theological perspective. Most of them did their 'theology' in Glenstal, Ahem. And then were sent for a year or so here and there. An STL in Canon law is like having your leaving cert in theological terms. They're going nowhere, fast.

    1. I think you are right. He's 73.

    2. I used to long for those canon law students to take their turns translating four or five lines in Reggie’s class. I could sit there and nap with my eyes open. Splendid! I understand that one of them became a bishop in New Zealand or some such place.

      So don’t say that canon law students have no value.

    3. My great uncle was once a professor of canon law somewhere in Rome. A humble man (I don't take after him, happily😆), he never spoke of this; I had to learn it from one of his former students.

      Don't underestimate canon lawyers, the genuinely bright ones. My uncle was a polymath, able to converse in many subjects...in Latin.

      He used to hear my confession informally, as we walked along the street. Never baulked once, even when I confessed to... Well, you know.

      Old school, straight, and worldly-wise. But a good egg.

      Once had a problem with the 'Devil's Brew', though. Or so I was told. Hmm

    4. One of the Caldey convert monks praised the Latinity of the old Roman professors while saying their Latin should have resulted in an interdict. Maybe he was thinking of your great uncle too.

      We all have done things we ought not to have, alas!

      Actually I was just being naughty, in the modern sense of the word, of course.

    5. I thought you said you didn't take after your uncle...

  15. Is Glenstal an upmarket grammar school ?
    Where is GLENSTAL?

  16. 19.38
    And how would you describe yourself ?

    With your ‘ my oh my’?

    So you as a daily troll here calls out M C.

    Grow up.

    1. @19:53, grow up yourself ya feckin eejit! LOL

    2. That's a learned, corner-boy reply, 22:48. (Can you spot the oxymoron here?)

    3. No, but we can spot the "ox"

  17. There's an element of wanting to shock. An element of wanting to be in the news. Is that a type of need?
    How could a monk that never spent a day in a parish end up being a bishop. That day has gone. Whatever about in the UK where Benedictines have parishes, they don't in Ireland. The day of no pastoral experience has gone. The days of the Abbot of Glenstal meaning anything has also gone. The scrapings of the bottom of the barrel have begun unfortunately.

  18. @Tom you're mistaken. None of these quotes were taken out of context. It was a 1:1 interview to promote the Abbot's forthcoming talk in a theatre in Dublin. It was like tv promo for the X Factor. Basically, it was done to look for notice and get a few column inches. Do not go gentle in that dark retirement!

  19. There were allegations on sexual abuse in 2014,how did that happen ?
    Why put on a blog about a place like this ?
    Do parents still allow their boys to board there ?

    1. Glenstal is heavily over-subscribed with names down in advance right up to 2027.It is not one of the largest fee- paying boarding schools but punches a little above its weight in sport like Rugby Union and volleyball.

  20. Some of the quotes are not grammatically understandable.
    Don’t know how this interview was conducted,but it read as gobbledygook to me.

    1. And to me.

      More a dazed dander around the labyrinth of Hederman's disordered mind.😆

    2. https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/LSRP.php

  21. Glenstal is a few-paying boarding school which costs around €17,000 "per annum depending on whether the pupil goes home at weekends or not. There is a reduced rate of course for day boys.It is one of those schools which answers your question about good results by quoting to you which Rugby Union matches were recently won and telling you about any rugby players who played on any prestigious teams in later life. You soon get a sense of what is "important" in their eyes...

  22. It's a good early warning sign for orthodox ie real Catholics if a priest/monk is featured in the Irish Times. Up to the late 1960s the paper still had situations vac ads that said "Protestants only", mainly for domestic service, though Jacobs and Guinness were notorious for mostly recruiting Protestants in their Dublin operations.

  23. Very interesting replys here.
    Maybe it was a good idea of yours Pat...to publish this.
    Just hope the boys at that boarding school are safe.
    I certainly would never have wanted my child boarding.
    I was to board, but all the places were gone...so bus it was.

  24. brian redmond japan15 November 2017 at 23:52

    Pat, I think that what the abbot was saying was that sex, money and power are impulses that drive us to try and be more than we are.We are never going to get rid of them, so it's no use putting a lid on them through vows or promises.His solution is a spiritual approach. That's confusing since spirituality has too often been a cover for advancing these desires. Say "mental" instead of "spiritual" and it makes sense. Direct, not suppress, these desires with your God-given sense, and you're on the way to happiness.