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.