Christian scripture is very clear. In Romans, Paul doesn’t mince words about the hypocrisy of sitting in judgment on another . . . when you are doing the exact same things.
Now it’s the Boy Scouts. They have been forced by the court to release the “Perversion Files”: over 1200 reports of sexual abuse by scoutmasters from 1965-85. Admittedly the record is mixed. Some allegations were investigated and some scoutmasters were banned from scouting. Some reappeared with another troop after a hiatus. Hardly any were reported to law enforcement.
When national Protestant denominations meet, there is a lot of necessary but mundane business that goes on. But sometimes something very important occurs and it should be noted. This summer, I've received updates from two denominations that are explicitly addressing abuse by clergy at their national gatherings: The Presbyterian Church USA and the Unitarian Universalists.
This was the front page headline that greeted me Saturday morning in my local paper, The Seattle Times. The quote is from Clarita Vargas, 51, of Tacoma, WA, who was abused as a child at an Indian Boarding School run by the Jesuits on the Colville Reservation. She is referring to a settlement in which 500 adult survivors will receive $166.1 million from the Northwest Jesuit Order.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, was recently interviewed on 60 Minutes, discussing his efforts since becoming Archbishop to address the sexual abuse of children by priests.
Dear Pope: It’s been a while since I wrote to you. Like many people around the world, I’ve been watching your tenure closely, particularly regarding the sexual abuse of children. I want to commend you for your move to establish a tribunal for holding bishops accountable for their actions to protect abusers and stonewall investigations or their inaction to protect children in response to sexual abuse by priests. I also commend you for actually listening to the Papal Commission you established in late 2013 to advise you on these matters.
This month, there was a celebration in Malicounda Bambara, Senegal, of the 10th anniversary of the village’s public declaration to abandon female genital cutting (FGC).
In Queensland, Australia, the government has formally made restitution to individuals and families who suffered abuse as children in government- and church-sponsored institutions. It only took ten years.
The 2,000-year-old, nearly universal practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in Guinea, West Africa, has been abandoned by the village of Lalya and 149 other connected villages. No longer will young girls have their clitorises removed nor will they be forced into early marriage.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States, coinciding with a renewed attempt for New York legislators to ratify the Child Victims' Act (A2872A/S63A). The proposed legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), is being reintroduced after previous failure to pass. It would eliminate the statute of limitations (SOL) for prosecuting perpetrators of sex crimes against children, and would create a one-year window for victims to bring civil suits against perpetrators in cases where the statute has already expired.
A 14 year old child goes to her priest and tells him that an adult parishioner has been initiating sexual contact with her. She asks the priest what she should do. “The child testified during deposition that [the priest’s] advice to her was to handle the issue herself because ‘too many people would be hurt.’ Court documents also say she testified, ‘He just said, this is your problem. Sweep it under the floor.’"
This week’s news that the Paterno statue has been removed from the Penn State campus, the NCAA heavily penalized Penn State with both a fine of $60 million and denied their wins of the football team as well as its future bowl game participation was welcome news.
A small news story hidden deep in the paper caught my eye. A middle school teacher has been arrested and charged with child rape. She has been placed on leave. The boy decided to come forward and disclose after hearing a church sermon which urged victims of sexual abuse to speak up because “the truth will set you free.”
Through the eyes of three families, the documentary All God’s Children (70 minutes) www.alllgodschildrenthefilm.com tells the personal story of the first boarding school for children of missionaries to be investigated for abuse at the hands of the parents’ Protestant missionary colleagues.
What does a pastor do when he discovers that a volunteer youth minister in his church is “sexting” a 15 year old girl in the youth group? As reported in the news, “The West Seattle church's youth pastor went to police immediately after learning of the allegations against Davis, resulting in the 26-year-old’s arrest. Davis was also dismissed from his volunteer position.”
I’m probably not alone in feeling the need for some good news, so I'm happy to share this: In a welcome development, three groups of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis have issued a proclamation addressing child sexual abuse. Over 300 rabbis from the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University have signed the proclamation which outlines in detail their response to the suicides of members of the Orthodox community who were victims of child sexual abuse.
Pastors Daniel and Laura McCluskey from the Church on the Word in Phoenix have been arrested. The pastors were both arrested Tuesday and booked on one count each of failure to report sexual abuse. One victim of incestuous abuse disclosed to them in 2008. The pastors confronted the abusive father who admitted his abuse of his daughter but was “repentant.” The pastors counseled the victim to “forgive” her father and restore the relationship. The father allegedly stopped abusing this daughter (who then moved out) but continued to molest her younger sister.