Intimacy as a learning task

For many years Wunibald Muller has been researching the topic of "sexual abuse and the church". In his new book, "Hidden Wounds," he describes how sexual abuse in the church can be recognized – and prevented.

"The priest must bring physical closeness in harmony with celibacy."A sentence with explosive power – especially in these times. Wunibald Muller knows that. All too often, the psychotherapist and theologian has been in trouble for saying the wrong things about abuse in the eyes of some churchmen. That was years ago. In the current crisis, he first prescribed silence and concentrated on his work in the Munsterschwarzach Recollectio House. There he cares for priests and religious who feel burned out or who want to prevent precisely this from happening. Talking about feelings, experiencing physical closeness Muller sits in a comfortable chair in his office and explains: "Priests and religious have to learn intimacy, just like any other person. "I need to be able to experience being who I am in a deep, meaningful, and committed relationship with other people." That means talking about feelings, experiencing physical closeness – even if without genital sexuality. Intimacy empowerment is what the psychotherapist calls it. It should already be part of the formation of prospective priests and religious. They have to learn to protect their own privacy and to decide for themselves how close another person is allowed to get to them. "I always have to have the zipper on the inside."This is also necessary in order to be able to show consideration for the feelings of others. Be clear about one's sexual identity Just like every person, a seminarian must be clear about his sexual identity and accept it, including a possible homosexual identity. But how does this go in harmony with celibacy? "I have to admit to myself: Who do I find attractive, who excites me, who do I fall in love with??" Every aspiring clergy person needs to feel the power that sexuality can have. Only in this way is a decision for a celibate life free. "Otherwise, sexuality is in the driver's seat." Trying to suppress this emotional maturation process or avoid it through evasive maneuvers is wrong, the therapist says. Of course, this path could also lead to the realization that a candidate is no longer willing to live a celibate life. Many people who sexually abuse minors are ultimately psychosexually immature, Muller says. They would have difficulty engaging in an equal relationship with their peers. That's why they seek closeness to children. They could not empathize with their victims. Sexuality plays an important role In addition, Muller also emphasizes the ability to surrender: to be able to go beyond oneself means more than just taking care of oneself. Sexuality plays an important role in this. It has this potential for transcendence, the theologian said. It allows merging with someone or something else, he said. Therefore, it is also important for priests to make use of this ability to surrender. For that is precisely what makes up the celibate way of life: A clergyman, after all, renounces marriage and family so that he can give himself in a special way to people and to the cause of God. In order to do this, he must also know his sexuality – a sensitive topic in the Catholic Church. "It is a pity that the potential for transcendence is made impossible when one gives poison to sexuality." Another sentence of the theologian with explosive power.

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