When I was an Anglican priest my bishop was the Rt Rev Peter Ball–a charismatic character, he was an elf-like self appointed Franciscan style monk. Bishop Peter had a brittle, little way of speaking, a twinkle in his eye and a beguiling smile. He was a delightful preacher and an impressive and inspiring leader. He was also fond of young men. He ran a program called “Give a Year to God” in which boys who had just left school would take a year off to live together in religious community with Bishop Peter in his country rectory. They’d sleep on the floor, work in the garden, cook their meals and say Morning and Evening Prayer together–doing this for six months before being placed in groups of two or three to live together for the other six months in various parishes helping with youth work, assisting with parish ministry in various ways. It was a great idea and was very popular. Every parish was excited to have the young men living and working with them for six months. The only problem was that Bishop Peter was abusing them. Eventually he was convicted and sent to jail for his crimes.

Bishop Peter’s particularly odious offense was combining the sexual abuse with spirituality. He would suggest to the young novices that they should “Strip naked like St Francis”. This they were to do in his presence. Some of them reported that he would “Bless them” and that he would anoint their genitals with holy oil. This combination of sexual abuse with a spiritual trick of some kind was apparently one of the tactics of Fr Marko Rupnik and the founder of L’Arche Communities–Jean Vanier.

Merging sexuality with spirituality is not the preserve of Catholics and Anglo-Catholics. There have been plenty of Protestant pastors too, who have given a whole new meaning to “the laying on of hands.” Men seduced others in the name of helping them spiritually. Often it will be the advice to a young person who may be sexually repressed: “You just need a good boyfriend or girlfriend. This will help you overcome your guilt and your hangups so you will be free to love God better.” More than once that “boyfriend or girlfriend” turns out to be the pastor or counsellor himself.

The even more insidious mixture of sexuality and spirituality is when the sex act is given a heightened spiritual or mystical significance. This is the sort of thing Rupnik, Vanier and Bishop Peter were involved in. With this type of abuse, sexual union–sexual climax is equated with spiritual liberation and religious ecstasy. In fact, indulging in sexual activity–according to the theory–brings the person into a heightened spiritual state and allows them to enter union with god in an extreme and physical way. If this sounds weird…it is. Not only is it weird, but it is the same theory that occult masters have used for a long time. That’s why occult rituals usually involved illicit sex–not just because they’re swingers and they want to have an orgy, but because when the sexual inhibitions come down, the natural inhibitions toward the dark powers also come down. Put simply, it’s “When you indulge in illicit sex you are opening yourself not only to your partner, but to the demons he worships.”

One of the techniques of sex magic  is “eroto comatose lucidity” and it was explained by the famous British occultist Aleister Crowley. You can read about it online, but be warned–it is pretty nasty stuff.

It is a commonplace among exorcists to report demonic infestation, oppression and possession being the result of “sex magic.”

This is why Cardinal Fernández’ book The Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality is so disturbing–not so much because of its graphic descriptions of sexual satisfaction, but because he was dabbling in the whole sex mysticism-sex magic theories.–the same kind of theories that Bishop Peter, Marko Rupnik, Jean Vanier and others used to justify their misdeeds.–and when used in black magic is a technique of demon worship. What is also disturbing is that Fernandez has not actually repudiated the book and as the head of the DDF apologized and pointed out its error, but simply said, “I wouldn’t write such a book now and I had it removed from circulation.”