Anger management vital for clergy and religious

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti

November 12, 2012

Anger awareness and management are vital for priests and members of religious orders because they are called to be people of dialogue, fraternity, service, peace and justice, and to treat others with charity, said an influential Jesuit magazine.

If clergy and religious don’t have “an adequate integration of aggression, they can become hostile, rigid and obstinate and risk exploding the often delicate and complex balance present in the communities” where they live and work, said an article written by Jesuit Father Giovanni Cucci in La Civilta Cattolica.

“The denial of rage certainly does not lead to a calmer or quieter life, but rather to a potentially more explosive situation; emotions rebel when they are not listened to, when they don’t find an adequate place” to be expressed, said the article in the journal.

In fact, many perversions, including the sexual abuse of minors, are linked to the “dynamic of repressed anger” that often is found together with psychological wounds caused by violence and abuse the perpetrator experienced and never “recognized and worked through,” said the article written by Cucci, a professor of psychology and philosophy at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

The Civilta article cited studies by Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist and clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at The Catholic University of America.

His years at the helm of the St. Luke Institute, a treatment centre for priests and religious with addictions or psychological problems, showed that at the root of many “deviancies and sexual pathologies there is a kind of pent-up rage or rage that has been eroticized,” the article said.