Friday, April 02, 2010

I am appalled...

by the claim that one of the Pope's henchmen has made in a Good Friday service, of all places: that the accusations against the Catholic Church and its leadership are akin to anti-Semitism. "I'm not going to talk about the victims," he said, "because they're being talked about elsewhere. I'm going to talk about how unfair it is that the Church and Pope are being maligned in this way." (my paraphrase of his words)

Here's what the follow-up news item said: "At a solemn Good Friday service, Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher likened the tide of allegations that the pontiff has covered up sex abuse cases to the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism." But within hours, facing a storm of criticism at the comparison, the Vatican felt it necessary to distance the pope from the preacher's remarks."

I have dear Catholic friends and family members who must be cringing at the situation that has developed over sexual abuse by priests over the past many years. And my friend Father Rick doubtless suffers himself every time another accusation is made against a fellow priest, because his profession is suffering.

Whether accusations are proven true or not, the accused person (priest, teacher, pastor, coach) is often ruined personally and professionally. The widespread scandal in religious organizations causes every clergyperson to be viewed with suspicion.

And yet the damage done to victims by that betrayal of trust is, I think, even greater than the damage done to a profession, to a religious tradition, to an individual. There is no excuse for any kind of abuse perpetrated upon a child or adult who trusts the perpetrator. Or who doesn't trust, for that matter. There is NO excuse.

And there is no excuse, IMHO, for pretending innocence or ignorance, for being blind to the damage being done, for shuffling an offender into another position without consequences. I have seen too many times the results of sexual abuse and the way it utterly distorts a person's sense of safety and personal identity.

As I said, I am appalled.

4 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

Unfortunately much of what you are appalled about here occurs within the Unitarian*Universalist religious community itself Kit.

"Less than perfect" U*U clergy and UUA administrators who turn a blind eye to their "imperfections" betray the trust of congregants. I would say that the UUA *pretending* that the intolerant and abusive non-sexual clergy misconduct that I complained about was "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" certainly falls within "pretending innocence or ignorance." The UUA and implicated U*U churches have been, and still are, stunningly blind to the damage that has been done by ALL forms of clergy misconduct, indeed I would say that they have been especially blind to the damage done by non-sexual forms of clergy misconduct. I know for a fact that the UUA is itself guilty of "shuffling an offender into another position without consequences" or at least with minimal consequences.

BTW It is not just sexual abuse that can utterly distort a person's sense of safety and personal identity. Various forms of non-sexual clergy misconduct, along with the typically negligent and effectively complicit responses to such misconduct of the UUA and implicated U*U churches, can harm a person's sense of safety and personal identity too. I don't display a picket sign slogan saying UNSAFE SECT? for nothing. . . Barring unforeseen difficulties I will probably be displaying that sign in front of 25 Beacon Street again later this month.

ms. kitty said...

Robin, I'm limiting your comments about your situation to this one.

Robin Edgar said...

Fair enough Ms. Kitty, but please understand that what I am talking about here is not just *my* situation. It is the situation of many if not most of the people who have filed clergy misconduct complaints against U*U ministers over the last several decades. Do U*Us really think that uugrrl's Speaking Truth To Power blog or the UU Safety Net website would have been created if the UUA was doing an adequate job of addressing clergy misconduct? Quite frankly U*Us should be appalled at the UUA's ongoing failure, if not outright refusal, top provide restorative justice for ALL victims of U*U clergy misconduct.

ms. kitty said...

I will be glad to publish their concerns, if they want to comment, but that's how I'd prefer to handle it, Robin.