Friday, May 04, 2007

Standard procedure: sweep it under the rug

Further proof that the natural propensity of churches - Anglican, Roman Catholic, conservative, liberal, whatever - is to sweep sexual abuse by clergy under the rug so as to make it someone else's problem and avoid embarassment to the church: Child abuse: CofE cops it again (Ruth Gledhill).

Yes, churches have put into place procedures and structures to avoid such failures of the church in the future. But we must remain vigilant and mindful that the instituional church's natural propensity is evident and changes in declared procedure do not imply a change of - yes I will put it this - heart.

Mad Priest comments:
The problem we have in England is that it is impossible to do anything about potential abusers, no matter how obvious it is that there is a high possibility that they will abuse, until they actually commit a crime and are found out. With the security of tenure that incumbents enjoy by law in my country a bishop cannot move a priest to a child free environment without that priest's agreement.It's like a bomb disposal team standing around an unexploded bomb and the commander says, "Well, there's nothing we can do, lads, until it goes off."

In the case at hand, the bomb did go off and the church failed to act. But we do have a problem if the church must remain silent even when there are warning signs that someone might abuse. Worse, we only encourage abuse when we sweep things under the rug.

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