It is intriguing that when the topic here is the sexual abuse of children that some would like to silence or restrict that!!!
Why is that?
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  Home :: 2008 January :: When the human soul is left charred and empty
 

When the human soul is left charred and empty

"A child who has been abused needs society to kneel before him or her and bend its ear to the whispers of his or her pain." - Charlene Smith

The insurance company called me the other day. It was time for the annual renewal of the church policy.

"I'd suggest," said my caller, "that you increase your liability coverage and give some further consideration to insurance for physical and sexual abuse."

"You're right," I said, "but it deeply saddens me that the church has to protect itself for fear its staff or congregants are charged with abuse."

"I understand," said our insurance rep, "but the reality is..."

Indeed, there is an alarming reality, an endemic problem within the global institution we refer to as the Church, a problem at times that seems so pervasive, a disease so dreadfully horrible that the once public perception of the Church as a paragon of virtue, and a model of all that is good and noble in society, appears but a distant memory.

Again and again, like some bad dream, the word "clergy" finds its way onto the front pages of our national newspapers, alongside it the words "sexual abuse."

The words should never be breathed or spoken in the same sentence, let alone side by side. The apostolic creeds we recite in the Church remind us that we are a holy universal Church, or should be, but by our conduct we have tragically maligned the name of Christ and invited the just and valid criticism of society that hypocrisy fills our ranks from the top brass to the ordinary man or woman in the pew.

I cannot imagine the unspeakable horror of sexual abuse. I simply cannot conceive of the trauma to the soul, the devastation to the human spirit, the disfiguration of the emotions.

I have never walked in the shoes of a young girl or boy whose innocence has been violated, whose sacred trust in the Almighty and His representatives has been betrayed with a kiss of death, I've never been there.

I remember in my first year of high school, two senior boys grabbing me in a corridor, pulling down my trousers and underwear then laughing hysterically.

never ever told anyone about that for years. That momentary exposure of my nakedness before their laughing eyes was a humiliating assault that left a wound, and crushed the spirit of a rather naive mid-pubescent kid.

As a pastor, and a member of the clergy I wish I could bow at the feet of every little boy or girl now in an adult's body, who has been sexually abused, and weep bitterly for the untold damage inflicted by the clergy.

I say that in full recognition of the fact that often I have been personally aghast and dismayed by my own sin.

The challenge in even talking about this subject is that somehow you can portray yourself as a pillar of virtue. I wish I were.

Yet despite my frailties I mourn for the damage we've done.

I once sat in a jail cell, in the protective custody unit of a facility where a young man was incarcerated.

He had sexually molested a baby. If he had been released amongst the other inmates he would have been dead within five minutes.

Prison justice leaves no room for mercy.

I remember sitting there that day thinking, "How could you?"

At times I fear for the institutional church.

We have been less than candid when it has come to dealing with the sexually abusive in our midst.

Our transparency, or lack of it, has often clearly revealed that we would rather hide the facts and avoid the public scrutiny.

It is therefore no surprise when Hollywood readily portrays the Church in such movies as "The Da Vinci Code," as clandestine, secretive, unworthy of trust, an institution to be viewed with suspicion.

It is also no great surprise when pollsters ask society who they would put most trust in, that the clergy now occupy a position closer to the bottom than the top.

Amidst all this, clergymen continue to be some of the loneliest people in our culture.

The demands placed on their lives are abnormal, and the demands being placed on them in a culture that is increasingly writhing in pain from the impact of stressed out lives, are intensifying.

It is often the loneliness within that leads men of the cloth into sexual aberration.

Most men, and women, who fall, have no accountability built into their lives, no confidante to ask them the serious questions of life, "Did you view any pornography today?"

"Have you considered having an affair?"

"Do you fantasize about anyone in your congregation?"

"Are you lying to me?"

Without accountability, clergy will fall, one after the other like a string of dominoes.

And not only will they fall, but they will leave behind an entangled mess of humanity, broken lives shrouded in a veil of secrecy and shame, men and women, the abused, for whom no amount of compensation will adequately repay the extensive damage done.

"You should increase your liability coverage, "said the caller.

Who would have thought that this recommendation should ever be made to the Church.

I'm sure God must weep.

First of all for the abused, but regretfully, for the state of His Church... oftentimes the abuser.

 
 


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia