Monday, September 06, 2010

Kirkepiscatoid: "Oh, you wanted me to GUARD the sheep?"

A brilliant and revealing blog post on clergy sexual abuse and harassment has posted at Kirkepiscatoid.  See the link below the first part of her post.  I urge everyone to read it and pass it on.  There is abuse in the Episcopal Church, as in any denomination.  The only way to fight it is through knowing it happens and often.  It is not always or often the product of affairs but of power-hungry clergy who are too arrogant for tasteful words.  I should know, I'm a victim and survivor of such harassment.  Kirkepiscatoid: "Oh, you wanted me to GUARD the sheep?"

Of those surveyed:
• More than 3% of women who had attended a congregation in the past month reported that they had been the object of clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) at some time in their adult lives;
• 92% of these sexual advances had been made in secret, not in open dating relationships; and
• 67% of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance.
• In the average American congregation of 400 persons, with women representing, on average, 60% of the congregation, there are, on average of 7 women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct.
• Of the entire sample, 8% report having known about CSM occurring in a congregation they have attended. Therefore, in the average American congregation of 400 congregants, there are, on average, 32 persons who have experienced CSM in their community of faith.
--From the Baylor University study on sexual exploitation and abuse by clergy

The recent events in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania with Bishop Bennison's knowledge of abuse perpetrated by his brother, have brought up something that doesn't seem to be, in my mind, told enough. It is illustrated in the facts from the Baylor University survey above.

Eight percent of people in a given congregation have KNOWN that clergy sexual abuse was going on in their parish.

Eight percent. Yes, it's a minority, but it is a noticeable one.

Unfortunately, more often than not, they know and don't talk.

The magnitude of this has just hit home recently for me.

I have been visiting at length with a friend of mine who, I believe, has been sexually exploited by a clergy member in the Episcopal Church in another diocese. What has been rather dismaying to her has been as she has been putting out "feelers" to figure out how to most appropriately discuss and deal with this, it has become apparent in the inquiries that people "guessed who it was"--which means they KNEW this person was walking a little on the shady side.

It's the church's version of "Don't ask, don't tell."

Read the rest here:
Kirkepiscatoid: "Oh, you wanted me to GUARD the sheep?"


Mompriest said...

we say we, churces, want to be places of compassion and hope, we want to "grow", we want people to come and be a part of our community. And then we fail to acknowledge our dark side, the place where abuse takes place in many forms and is tolerated. It's not just CSM but abuse in many forms - parishioners gossiping and abusing other parishioners with cruelity, parishioners abusing their clergy - not usually sexual abuse, but abuse nonetheless - and ALL allowed to remain hidden, not discussed, and secretive. And tolerated. All because we don't really understand what it means to love and forgive - we mistake the heart and truth of those actions (love and forgiveness) for silence and tolerance of abuse.

I'm sorry for your friend, for her abuse, and the added pain of struggling to find a safe way to move forward.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Thanks for the blog shout-out, Catherine, and thanks for your bravery.

I also appreciate Mompriest's comment. One can argue that she brings up the most important thing, the need for this "code of slience" to be broken on many fronts.

Churches are difficult places to break the "code of silence" because we all want to be "nice" at church, right? Not to mention churches have their own rules, their own forms of discipline, and we tend to not think of them in the ways we do secular civil law.

But as children of the light, we need to learn to call the darkness what it is.

Catherine said...

Dear Mompriest, that she is me.

Diego said...

Thank you for sharing this post. The statistics you reported are shocking!
We have problems here in Britain (mainly in the RC Church) about clergy sexual misconduct and it is a sorry affair. I honestly thought that things were a bit better across the pond. Lots of love and prayers! D