Thursday, September 02, 2010

GUARD the sheep???

I've recently been pondering the possible forms of clergy abuse, clergy boundary violations, and when and whether one should confront the clergy person or speak with one's priest.

So I was pleased to see Kirkepiscatoid's blogpost: "Oh, you wanted me to GUARD the sheep?"

She raises good questions about the sick games some clergy play.

There's no doubt I agree with KirkE that sick clergy need to be reported. But where does one draw the line? The new disciplinary canons in the Episcopal Church are strict and harsh.

Image courtesy of KirkE.

I have wonderful relationships with several priests and deacons in our church, and I don't want them to withdraw because of the Canon IV possibilities. On the other hand, there are some sick clergy out there who need to be brought to discipline.

When push comes to shove, I wonder if I would be among the silent 8% whom KirkE mentions?

Would I have the discernment that is necessary to avoid a witch-hunt? I certainly hope so!


Blogger Point of Order said...

The rules are harsh because the peril is great. They protect the sheep and the shepherd.

9/03/2010 9:47 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

The sad part, Lisa, is my understanding of these situations is that the witch hunt is sometimes misguided. The parish wants to lynch "who called the bishop" more than they want to lynch the clergy person.

If you've never been to the Safeguarding God's People workshop, I urge you to attend. I honestly think it should be required for all vestry members.

I was struck with the subtleness of how the victims in the video had been roped in by their clergy into what they thought was a "consensual romantic relationship." What is sad is it is the unusual victim who can stand to remain in the church. Highly unusual, in fact.

I used to think differently about these "consensual" relationships until I started playing them in parallel as a physician. Would it be appropriate for me to call up someone whom I've signed out their surgical pathology and ask them on a date? "Hi, I am the doctor who signed out your prostate cancer. I saw you come by and pay the bill, and I was thinking we could go to dinner and I'd be glad to help you figure out some things about your prostate..."

Hell, no, that would not be appropriate! It would be taking advantage of a person who just had the diganosis of a serious illness for my own gain and my own needs.

Predatory clergy like to work on the recently divorced and widowed, or some life upheaval that makes them "lonely." If the clergy is also needy and lonely, they can justify caring for their own neediness through "counseling" that person, or "spiritual direction." It is so, so subtle, when you watch the vid in the workshop.

9/03/2010 10:31 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

When the Diocesan appointed investigator finds more evidence and witnesses against the accused clergy, it's pretty clear who is telling the truth. Abuse is abuse. It needs to be investigated and prosecuted, by the Church or the court.

When the victim is found to be telling the truth and there are other victims of the same priest or deacon or lay person, and their are depositions by members of the parish who are willing to tell what they know to be true and it can be proven and verified independently, it is crystal clear.

Those on the outside looking at the situation cannot imagine the trauma of the victim who is made out to be the perpetrator; there is nothing worse that can happen to see the pervert priest or whomever treated as a victim. You have to be the victim to truly understand, my friend.

9/07/2010 10:05 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

KirkE, those who stay with the Church have such a deep love and trust in God that in telling the truth, we really are free. It takes a person of very strong faith to stay. Thankfully I have that kind of faith and it has seen me through more than I could every explain during that time to present.

Does this mean that the other victims do not have great faith or love of God? No. But when you find that one of the other victims was a woman priest and she could not find the strength to file a formal complaint but I told me I had more courage and sense of right than she did. I didn't turn bac nor did I run away...I went forward knowing full well that the way was perilous and yet my God, my courteous Lord and the Holy Spirit never let me waver in my conviction that what I did by filing the canon law complaint was ever the wrong thing to do.

I understand Christ's betrayal in the garden in ways others will not. I stand by my decision to stay in the Church and gain victory of those who would chase me out.

I think I may take the Safe Church training. I am sure it has greatly changed since I took it in the year of my confirmation in the Church, 1996, and that change is due in part to cases like mine.

9/07/2010 10:11 PM  

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