Monday, August 22, 2016

It's enough to make you spit in disgust

What happens when bishops forget what they are called to be?

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

It seems the bishops of the Church of England have forgotten that.

Survivors of child sexual abuse have accused the Church of England of “acting like Pontius Pilate” as a previously unseen document revealed that bishops were explicitly instructed only to give partial apologies - if at all - to victims to avoid being sued.

Legal advice marked “strictly confidential” and circulated among the most senior bishops, told them to “express regret” only using wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers.

The guidance - written in 2007 and finally replaced just last year - also warns bishops to be wary of meeting victims face to face and only ever to do so after legal advice.

It speaks of the "unintended effect of accepting legal liability" for sexual abuse within their diocese and warns them to avoid “inadvertently” conceding guilt.

The paper ... advises bishops to use “careful drafting” to “effectively apologise” without enabling victims to get compensation.

Survivors said it showed there was a culture of denial, dishonesty and “blanking” victims in ways which had heightened their pain and ultimately failed to tackle the roots of the abuse crisis.

. . .

“The approach to survivors is often a corporate model and this document supports that - it shows a church led by lawyers and insurers, you get the impression that these people are really their masters.

“A diocese is deferential to their bishop and the bishop is deferential to a bunch of lawyers.

“The Church will say ‘our hands are tied’ but they are paying the people who are tying their hands.

“They should say we need to stop this nonsense but they wash their hands like Pontius Pilate.

“Every part of this nexus [the bishops, the lawyers and insurers owners] washes its hands of every other part of it but the nexus is joined at the hip.”

There's more at the link.

This is precisely the same behavior exhibited by the bishops of the Catholic Church in dealing (or, rather, not dealing) with the same problem in the ranks of their own clergy.  Cover up, obfuscate, deny, make excuses, utter pious platitudes . . . but never, ever admit anything that might be construed as legal liability.  In fact, order your priests to lie to their congregations.  Tell the people of God that they can trust their modern-day Apostles - the bishops - to "clean house", deal with the problem effectively, even when those bishops are doing nothing whatsoever that will actually accomplish that purpose.  Pious window-dressing will do.

The scourge of child sexual abuse by clergy is still present in every major denomination, and no denomination is taking effective measures to deal with it.  What's even worse, the leaders of those denominations were the ones who permitted a climate to develop within which such abuses could occur.  They defaulted on their duties, and when the inevitable happened, they tried to dodge any blame or responsibility.  They're still doing it.  Nothing's changed.

May Almighty God have mercy on us.



Judy said...

Since the Queen is the head of the Church of England, maybe they need to start bombarding the Queen with letters, could be interesting if the Queen started asking pointed questions.

TommyL said...

Here in the US, I was raised Episcopalian. I didn't leave the church. It left me.

Thomas W said...

Unfortunate but not unexpected. The same thing happens in most liability situations in the United States (and likely the UK), from medical malpractice to working at a fast food restaurant (never apologize, never imply any hint of fault, etc).

The bishops should be pointed to the practice at at least one state university medical school (I forget which) -- apologize and offer to fix things if they might be at fault, fight to the end if they aren't. Many people who are harmed would just like an acknowledgement of fault, apology, evidence things are being fixed, etc.

The sex abuse scandals add criminal liability, and there is justified fear that past actions by officials (possibly including current bishops) could be prosecuted. There is also an obvious push to get money out of the church, but this is amplified by the perception that the church is closing ranks to protect the abusers.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

"Many people who are harmed would just like an acknowledgement of fault, apology, evidence things are being fixed, etc."

The late Al Imhoff, a good friend, said he would accept a letter of apology and $25. He joined a class action suit, he told me, as a gesture of support of the others who suffered. They ended up with a mid six figure each settlement.

My use of his name here wouldn't offend him. He once said his story and picture on the front page of the Seattle Times would be fine with him.

JK Brown said...

In actuality, the bishops are doing exactly their historical purpose. Protecting the church and conserving, if not, increasing its wealth. Clergy as you cite are, in the history of Christianity a relatively new invention. Perhaps only 500 years or so.

TheOtherSean said...

I think you're being a little harsh on the clergy, JK Brown. In the hundreds of years the Church existed prior to Roman adoption of Christianity, there wasn't all that much wealth to be conserving or increasing. And many of the local clergy throughout the centuries, in a multitude of Christian denominations, have concerned themselves with the spiritual, and often the temporal, needs of their congregations. This in no way contradicts the existence of clergy whose concerns lay primarily in power and wealth, especially among higher levels of ecclesiastic authority, such as bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and metropolitans.

Glen said...

What of the souls of the boys (and girls) driven away from the church by ordained clergy seeking sexual gratification? Do the bishops who allowed this to happen truly understand the consequences?

It appears not.

Clinton J said...

Doesn't this just expose the catholic church for what it really is - a machine to harvest the money from the people and manipulate them at the same time.

The mere fact that the catholic church cares more about not being sued that doing what is right makes me wonder why any catholic who cares about doing what's right doesn't up and leave the church!

As a PROTESTant, I will continue to PROTEST against the catholic church... perverts and pedophiles should never be in leadership or protected/enabled to continue in their ways.

TheOtherSean said...

Clinton J, the article in question is about the Church of England, a (nominally) Protestant church.